With wet hair and a crumpled dress thrown over my tee, I ran down the stairs. Grabbing my purse, makeup bag, and Charlie’s flip flops, I hurried him out the door: “We’re late! It’s starting in two minutes!” Even though I had just showered, I was already sweating from the humidity and was debating about just canning the whole thing. Is it even worth going now?
We had just returned from the beach the day before (no complaints!) but the house was a wreck. Luggage everywhere, last night’s dinner dishes still on the table (I know… gross), a dishwasher that needed unloading and a sink full of dirty dishes waiting to be loaded. Re-entry into reality is always a beast, but I was still thankful for the opportunity to even have a re-entry.
And so this morning Charlie and I were headed out the door to go to our last Mommy-Charlie study of the summer. It’s a study called Stuck. I wanted more than anything to be at the table this last day with the ladies I had gotten to know the past eight weeks. With our varying summer schedules, it was rare that all of us were at the table each week, but I at least wanted to be there to say goodbye to whomever was, to exchange contact info, and to be filled and re-charged by the last lesson of the study: Unstuck.
So after pounding on our door for one of the kids to let me back into the house because I had forgotten my car keys (!), Charlie and I were on our way. But I, a disheveled sweaty mess with wet hair and no makeup, was still having an inner debate about even pulling out of the driveway. We were going to be 25 minutes late. Charlie would have to walk in late again, and I hated to do that to him again; there is a pattern here. But I really wanted to get Unstuck today… so we pulled out of our neighborhood and onto the main street. Isn’t that what God wanted me to do? Go to the nice air-conditioned church building to hear His word and have fellowship with the ladies… and get Unstuck?
Apparently not. God had other plans for me this morning.
As Charlie and I were rounding the bend toward the road that would take us to the expressway, there he was. His silver van with the hood propped open: STUCK. How appropriate for this morning. One after the other, cars passed by him. He was in their way. He was keeping them from getting where they were in such a hurry to go. I was in a hurry, too. But something made me roll down my window, even before his beckoning eyes reached mine. “I don’t have cables,” I disappointedly explained to him.” That would be my way out. My way of getting back into the hurry that I was in this morning. But before I could even finish my sentence, I saw that he had already hooked up cables to his battery. “I just need a second,” he said, “just a tiny second.” Charlie was watching. What would Mom do? Since the child knows me fairly well :), I’m pretty sure he already knew.
So I pulled over. I edged as closely to the right as I could, trying to get out of the rush of everyone around us. We were stopping traffic. At 9:30am, we were holding up all of the cars trying to get to their important destinations. After earnestly thanking me, we had a brief exchange:
“I just dropped my son off at school. Trying to get to work now,” he explained.
“Your son at Ballard?” I asked.
“Yeah, football. He’s a freshman but already playing varsity.”
“Well, I was on my way to Bible study, but I decided this would be better. I was late, anyway…”
And with that, we began our work together, trying to get him Unstuck. But the location of his van in the lane wasn’t ideal, and the cable was too short to reach. We really would have to block traffic briefly to reach one another. One failed attempt after another… and I was even calling aloud inside my car, “C’mom, Lord. You got this. Start this man’s car! PLEASE!” Cars were honking. Drivers were glaring with frustrated and angry faces. But he defended me. He was kind. He was stuck, but that didn’t keep him from being kind. “People can be so mean,” we agreed. Made me mad, quite honestly. People can be so mean.
But despite our repeated tries, my car just wouldn’t start his. He was soaking wet with perspiration. “What will you do now?” I asked. I offered to take him to work, but he said he’d get his boss to come pick him up. I hated that it didn’t work out. I felt for certain that I had been put there this morning, in all of my hurriedness, just to help him. Just to help someone else get Unstuck. Not me, but someone else. I wanted that for me, selfishly, I guess. But I wanted it more for Charlie. An example that kindness pays off–you can tie up ‘good deeds’ with a nice bow and be on your way. But that’s not how it turned out.
I reluctantly pulled off, out of everybody’s way. But I didn’t want to leave him there, still stuck. So I turned in the opposite direction of where I was originally headed and parked in the adjacent bank lot. Meanwhile, he began pushing his van by himself down the 5-lane road. For a pretty decent distance he was alone out there, pushing two tons of metal down the road–until another kind man parked his car in the lot and got out to help him push. He had more powerful cables, a bigger engine than mine, and he was able to start my new friend’s van.
So here he is. Here’s my new friend, Jacobe. Here is the man whom God sent to teach me a lesson this morning, while I was on my way, in a hurry, to attend a Bible study in a nice, air-conditioned church.
So at the end of the day, big air-conditioned churches are sometimes not where God places us. At least not for me this morning. God’s work is right in front of our faces most of the time… are we looking for it? Or are we more consumed with the fact that we didn’t blow our hair dry how we would have liked, or put on our makeup and jewelry, or arrive at our destination looking like we had it all together?