Many are the Plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.
Christmas can be a very chaotic and busy time for all of us. I was really excited for the month of December as I had recently resigned from my overwhelming job and was going to take a couple of months off to decompress and re-prioritize my life. It was a couple of weeks before Christmas and the malls were packed. I had just enjoyed a great lunch with a friend and I was going to enjoy doing some shopping. As I was on walking to my car to drive to the mall I was on the phone with a friend giving her some advice on how to deal with a situation at work, telling her to do what she thought God would want her to do. Was her actions going to shine God’s light and give him the glory? Even though the situation may not be fair to us we as christians are responsible for how we respond to those situations. Philip Yancey said in his book Vanishing Grace, “the issue is not whether I agree with someone but rather how I treat someone with whom I profoundly disagree. We Christians are called to use the “weapons of grace,” which means treating even our opponents with love and respect.”
I hung up the phone and proceeded to drive over to the mall. People were waiting for others to walk to their cars so they could take their parking spot. I was patiently waiting for a parking spot and just as the people pulled out a truck zoomed around me and took it. I was furious and proceeded to be not so nice to the person who just stole my spot through my windshield. My heart was pounding. I was so angry and I then sped off to go find another parking spot. Ten minutes after I had just given advice to my friend on how we need to show God’s love, here I was screaming at this man who stole my spot. I did not show God’s love in that moment, but God wanted to teach me a lesson.
Out of all the stores in the mall this person ended up in the same store as me, and not only in the same store, but the same section of the store. So I circled the store a few times and got all of the items that I needed except the toaster. I needed a special toaster and he was still there. I knew that if I went over into that section I would open up my mouth again and the things that would come out would still not be so pretty, so I decided I would just come back to the store another day. I go to get in line and who do you think comes strolling in line right after me? That’s right, the man who stole my parking spot. Out of the six lines that were open he chose my line. Why couldn’t he just leave me alone? I eventually go to my car and start to make my way out of the parking lot and I keep replaying this whole situation through my head. I knew I shouldn’t have reacted the way I did to him, but HE STOLE MY PARKING SPOT!! As I am trying to rationalize my behavior and trying to make it ok, I am waiting to turn out of the parking lot, but there is a truck waiting for someone to let him in. I get up closer and it’s the same man?! At this point I am talking very loudly to God out loud in my car and asking Him the purpose of all of this, and I quietly hear Him whisper to me, show my love and grace to him as I have shown to you. Ouch, that hurt. My heart softened immediately and I waved him in. He said thank you and we went our own way.
I had my own plan that day. I wanted to enjoy the day shopping, and I wanted to remain angry and justified with how I dealt with the situation, but God wanted to teach me something. He wanted to show me that I needed to treat people with the same grace that he has shown me. So I got to thinking, how often do we not show the grace of God to others? How often do we get inpatient with employees at stores and servers at restaurants? Do we give attitude when we have to do something we don’t want to do or do we serve others with a gracious heart? I know I am guilty of not living a gracious life. I want to take this year and work on showing God’s grace and love through my actions. Will you join me? Let’s pour out God’s love and spread his good news through changing our hearts and attitudes as we go out into this world day in and day out.