I was on my way to church yesterday with one of my coworkers. Because I get rides now. Because I don’t have a car. Because it was wrecked. We discussed this.
I hate asking for rides, I really truly do. It makes me feel needy and incapable. But it was either suck it up and ask or miss out on church. So I sucked it up and got a ride with my coworker who happened to be working with me the night I wrecked my car. What happened was that I had to run to Harris Teeter to get change for the register, and I wrecked my car on the way back. We discussed this.
So, on the way to church, I felt the wave of regret I’ve been feeling a whole lot lately since the car thing, and I started rambling. “You know what, Taylor. There’s a Starbucks in Harris Teeter. I was really really thinking about grabbing you some coffee when I went to go get that change. I really was. Except then I decided not to, because your parents wouldn’t like me if they knew I was supplying you with caffeine late at night when you have school the next day, and also that maybe would have been irresponsible or something, buying coffee on the clock and all. And then I thought about getting you a cookie, but then that was also irresponsible I guess. But freaking, if I would have bought you the dang coffee, I wouldn’t have been behind the guy who caused the wreck and I would have a car and not be broke and I’d still have a life.” I then proceeded to laugh a whole lot, because that’s my natural response to everything anymore, especially to the things you’re not supposed to laugh at. Taylor thinks I am on drugs probably.
So we’re sitting in church, and Pastor Steven (As in Furtick, as in the one who gets picked on on the news a lot. I like him though. A whole lot.) starts talking about fears. And how we have to put our faith in God, as opposed to our boats. Because, one time Paul was in a shipwreck, and he had his faith in God, and not in the boat. Because that boat didn’t do a thing for him once it wrecked. It was God who held him and protected him in the uncertainty of the storm, and it was God who was still with him once Paul and the other passengers lost their resources. Because God was his foundation, not that boat.
At this point, I was starting to get emotional. Because my car was called “the boat” a lot. And that freaking car that I hated so much symbolized so much more than I realized. That car was my freedom, it was my life. My life feels like its on hold because that guy’s gone. I put all of my expectations and passions and dreams in it. And with it gone, and with all the money I’m being forced to hand over because of the whole ordeal, I feel very much shipwrecked and drained of all of the resources I relied so heavily on.
But it got worse. Then Pastor says, I kid you not, “Maybe you wouldn’t be so afraid in life if you could see how God is protecting you. You don’t know what He’s doing. For all you know, God protected you from a car wreck. You might have avoided a car wreck this week because you got someone a donut or something, I don’t know.”
I made some sort of outburst, probably, and I might have either cried or laughed a lot. I don’t remember. All I remember was thinking, “No, it was a coffee. A freaking coffee. I wouldn’t have gotten in that wreck if God would have told me to get the coffee. He could have stopped it. I would have my freedom still. My dreams wouldn’t be put on hold right now.”
But He didn’t.
My first thought: How do we come to terms with a God who lets things happen, things far worse than a stupid wreck? My second thought: No. He didn’t. And that’s okay.
Here’s what I think. We have this tendency to try to tack meaning onto every rough thing we face in life. Like, “God’s putting you through this to make you stronger.” Clichés like that. But maybe there just wasn’t meaning in it. Maybe it just happened because it did. Maybe God had nothing to do with it happening; it just happened, because that’s life. People are stupid and they do stupid things. That’s freewill, which God has given us. So I think we are wrong to try to ask God why He would let something happen. Because it would be against His nature to take back man’s freewill to make things go how He wants them to. He still has a hand, of course. But we live in a world of brokenness. So until His Kingdom comes, there will be brokenness.
But just because He isn’t the cause of something doesn’t mean it’s meaningless. Because no matter what happens, He has promised to never leave. And we can find peace in making Him our foundation, regardless of what He does or does not allow. Because He never promised to protect us from troubles in this life, but He did promise to protect our souls. So our souls can thrive and grow regardless of what stupid things happen. And that makes the risks we take worth it, I believe. Because we can be secure in knowing that our hiding place is in Christ, our unshakable Savior. We don’t have to rely on unstable resources that are bound to fail us at some point or another. We have Jesus, who has our souls, and is worthy of trusting ourselves over to. And so He can use anything, anything at all, to teach us this. Or remind us of this. Or whatever.
This was really basic, I know. I’m still just kind of angry I didn’t buy the coffee. Or that an angel did not come from heaven and point me in direction of Starbucks or something. But at least I’m at peace with God allowing things, even when He has the capabilities to protect us. Because my soul’s covered and I’m going to get so close to Him as I have to trust Him even more during this time, and it’s gonna be great.