It was Friday morning. As usual the store was packed. I only needed two items, and stood in line. My leg had been bothering me so I was with my cane. And then came the typical Israeli, with maybe 5 items, pushing ahead of everyone, and me, saying something like, “I was here” or “I work here” (I wasn’t sure which).
It took me a minute to let it sink in, as she clearly noted my cane… I had to change the way I was standing to allow her to pass through. My first thoughts were, let it go… and then, almost without thinking, I turned to her and in a nice, quiet voice, “Thank you that you are more important than a person in line with a cane.”
I have to admit, I don’t know which surprised me more, that I said it… or that I said it so nicely. She turned and gave me a nasty look. And then I added, still with a nice voice, “Since you are so important, why don’t you push ahead of the woman in front of me too?”
And then she let loose yelling, cursing, and swearing at me… and all I could think was why did I say that? I knew better… She began to wish that all my illnesses would be 10 times worse, that I would be cursed in every way… and suddenly, finally, I felt angry. I caught myself thinking, May God bless you with two canes instead of my one and as I thought it, I felt a strong NO in my heart. Don’t you dare… you’ve already gone too far.
I was wrong
And I realized that I should have said nothing. She continued to rant at me, as people behind me tsked, and everyone looked at me as though I was the trouble maker here… And truth be told, I was. This is Israel, where there is always someone who thinks they are more important than someone else and you just learn to let them through. Otherwise, it can turn into a screaming match that won’t stop until someone backs down, and that someone will not be the one who jumped ahead of everyone…
I couldn’t understand why not one person stood up to her. She so clearly had NOT been in line. Usually, when someone leaves and will come back, they tell the person ahead of them, so then the next in line is told, “There is someone ahead of you,” and you know it already.
But the way she cursed me, made me feel horrible, like she had unleashed evil in my direction and as I finished paying and walked to the car, I asked for the Lord’s protection… and realized this woman too needs a savior. Then I had a thought… what if she did accept Jesus, and then we met? What would she think? What kind of example had I been? No I’d not been long suffering, or patient, or kind. I’d been angry and sarcastic… And worse, what if before the throne of God, she accused me? Yes, now I can repent and be forgiven, but I was still wrong. Two wrongs do not make a right…
And I thought about the “blessing” I had wanted to curse her with…
By now I’d gotten back to my car, driven to the car wash, and was going to get gasoline. But I was distracted, disturbed, unhappy with what happened, and with myself. And so, as I parked next to the gas pump, I didn’t notice I was too close, and banged a front tire into the bordering metal curb around the tank. I backed up, filled up with gas, and then looked at the tire. A huge hunk of rubber was hanging lose from it.
I remember thinking to myself, I guess I deserved that… I suppose that woman would be happy… and then remembered that there was a tire repair shop behind the gas station… fortunately.
I drove over and was told that because of the wear and tear on the tires, I would need to replace both front tires. How much? NIS 600 (~$165). I sighed, and gave thanks for an unexpected income tax return… now close to gone thanks to a few other unexpected needs, and now this.
A tired tire
I sat down, feeling thoroughly chastened, and wondering, what now, when the mechanic came up to me, holding one of the tires he’d just removed from my car.
“Lady,” he said, “I just thought you’d like to know you really needed to change these tires… actually, a long time ago. Its good you came now when you did….” Apparently, they were rather old by tire standards, and weren’t too safe.
That caught me by surprise and suddenly I saw everything in a different light. Yes, I had spoken out of place and had not behaved… but if I had not been distracted I probably wouldn’t have banged up the tire and I had a long drive planned for the next day… perhaps, in a strange way, that woman’s “curse” had saved my life!
And then I realized, Oh Lord, return what she meant for evil for good. Bring salvation her way… and if I have the opportunity and see her again… I can apologize… but bless her, don’t curse her… bless her.”
Somehow, sitting there as the mechanic finished changing the tires, I felt suddenly blessed. I asked the Lord to forgive my selfish attitude, and found myself praying for someone whom I may never meet again. Yet God answers prayer, and I do hope I see her in eternity.
This was a moment in my life I am not proud of. I’m not even sure why I’m sharing this with you. Just an excerpt from a typical day in my life, and a close-up view of how I can be so good at failing to represent my God well to others. But then, as I think of you, I wonder, do you have similar moments you are not proud of? Somehow, since you too are human, I think so.
Perhaps, in sharing this moment of humanity and a window into God’s grace shining on me, I can encourage you to see those same windows of God’s grace shining into your life, despite the failures of which you are so aware.
May we be encouraged to trust the truth of scripture:
7 But if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say, “We have no sin,” we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
[1 John 1:7–9 HCSB]
P.S. If you are wondering why I chose this picture to go with the post, its because sometimes I feel like this tree, closed in on all sides, how can I ever hope to do what is right, yet God in His grace still works in my life… that green is HIS life in me… not me!