My brake line is lying somewhere along Route 15 in Pennsylvania. This was unknown to me until yesterday afternoon when I found myself at the mechanic for a completely different surprise problem. (For those of you keeping score at home, that's 98273498732983 trips to the mechanic this year.)
I had noticed that my car had been starting a little slower than usual over the past few days, but I did what I do in most situations when an almost-problem presents itself: I hoped it would decide to resolve on it's own. It almost works 100% of the time except for when it doesn't.
So it wasn't the biggest surprise when I went out to move my car yesterday afternoon and was met with a lackluster reaction upon putting the key in the ignition. This was not the result I was hoping for, what with being in the process of traveling quite a bit in the next few weeks. Not to mention, you know, moving. My car is an essential component to all of those equations.
I decided to drive it straight to the mechanic, who, serendipitously, is only located about a mile and a half away. And on the way there I prayed one of the more rational prayers I've prayed over the past few weeks: Lord, I know that nothing comes to me that has not already passed through Your hands. I know You love me and desire the best for me, so please help me to remember that and learn what You might want to teach me as I react to this situation with grace.
Now, this was coming from the same woman whose recent supplications have included exclamation-laden laments and a strong adherence to the anger and denial stages of grief, so let's attribute that moment of clarity strictly to the Holy Spirit at work in my prayers because I've been at work finishing shoo fly pies with a vengeance and that's about it.
I've said it before and I'll say it til the cows come home: if you live anywhere near Rochester, you need to take your car to Sam LoVetro. His staff stopped what they were doing to help me when I arrived, fitting me into an already overflowing schedule with friendliness and compassion. They were quick to diagnose the problem. Just a dead battery! No harm, no foul. They even fixed my delinquent turn signal while I waited. We were just chatting as they backed it out of the garage...
and found a disconcerting puddle of brake fluid underneath.
And that's when they put my car on the lift.
And that's when they showed me that my brake line had decided it was time to part ways and left without so much as a goodbye back in Pennsylvania. (I thought I had just run over roadkill.) (I hadn't.)
And that's when I learned that without a brake line and with rapidly rusting layers holding the underbody of the car together, I would have been destined to hit the brakes...and not have any brakes to hit.
And that's when I saw God's grace clearer than ever.
Had it not been for the dead battery, perceived problem as it were, I would never have known that I was heading toward impending doom. My brakes could have gone out as I was pulling into a parking space...or they could have gone out as I was unable to come to a stop at a busy intersection. What seemed at first like a useless problem to pile on top of a growing list of useless problems ended up being a blessing - one I didn't even know I needed.
I think God's grace in my life right now is just like that: a future blessing I don't yet know I need. My current unemployment is a perceived problem. My need to move back in with my parents because I don't have a place to live is a perceived problem. Having no idea what to specifically do next is a perceived problem. But these problems all deviate from my human perceptions. They have nothing to do with God's vision. I know that somewhere up ahead, as a result of these so-called problems, is a blessing I don't yet know I need.
If there's anything I've learned about God, it's that He will not hesitate to put me in a situation I don't want to be in if it's for my ultimate benefit. He's a good father. He doesn't flinch when I resist or withdraw or throw myself into a fit of teenage belligerence. He will do what needs to be done to make me into the person He created me to be. He will invest in me, even when I protest. Even when it appears to be a sacrifice. Even when I'm unkind and undeserving. Especially then.
Sweet, undeserved grace under protest has marked my entire 8 year journey in Rochester. I've never wanted to be here, but I've always needed to be here. And while thus far I've entered this new chapter in a similar fashion of kicking and screaming (I'm a stubborn, slow learner), I'm going to try to quiet down. Because I have no reason not to trust that the God who has so faithfully and lovingly provided for me in the past will continue to provide for me in the future.
Lord, I know that nothing comes to me that has not already passed through Your hands. I know You love me and desire the best for me, so please help me to remember that and learn what You might want to teach me as I react to this situation with grace.