This morning my coffee came to me tempered with Sweet-n-Low instead of good old-fashioned sugar. I’m not on a diet and have no problem with sugar, we were just out of it this morning and this seemed to be the proper (best) solution. Sweet-n-Low is nasty despite what others will tell you. It leaves a bitter aftertaste which to me is unpalatable. You might like the stuff and if you do, bless you. But I stand firm by my claim. I gave up my attempt to drink the coffee and poured over half of my cup back into my wife’s cup. I took the remainder and put it on the floor for my dog, Tink. (she loves coffee) She sniffed the cup, took a tentative sip, and then looked up at me with her ‘C’mon Man!’ expression of disgust.
As I left the house on my way to work I noticed my seat belt was not latching as it should have been. I stopped in the driveway, screwdriver in hand, and attempted to rectify the matter. This feeble attempt on my part was met with very little success; I managed to latch the seat belt, but not with me actually ‘in’ the seatbelt. My anger grew as I realized it would mean another trip to the dealership, and I had been there only a week before for routine maintenance. It’s not a big deal, but it means arranging a ride and hoping that the repair will be completed by the time I get off work. More than once, even for something as simple as a scheduled oil change, I have found myself waiting for the job to be completed at the dealership when I arrived after work. As I tucked the seat belt back into its holster, I drove out of the driveway to the accompaniment of a dinging chime warning me that my seat belt was still not fastened. Sigh.
So far, it had been an inglorious start to my day, and it only became worse. At an intersection, I stopped at the sign like the good, law-abiding citizen that I am. A car was approaching and had the right-of-way, so I waited patiently for it to pass. At the last possible instant, with no prior turn signal, the car turned down the road I was on. I was bothered that I had waited maybe seven or eight seconds for the car to pass, that was bad enough. But what really got me bent out of shape was the driver. She made eye contact with me and I guess she saw the pained expression on my face, so she smirked at me. Seriously, I saw it.
For a split second I reverted to the old ways and a time when following the Lord was not a part of my creed. My hand began sliding up from my side to the window, middle finger beginning its extension to what would have invariably become an obscene gesture aimed at the smirking driver. As the chimes continued to ring, reminding me that my seat-belt was still not fastened, I caught myself and merely frowned my best look of contempt at her. As I furrowed my brow and shook my head at the impolite driver and quickly looked the other way, I was thankful once again that the Holy Spirit was there to remind me of Whom I belong to and what I am supposed to be. As I pulled out onto the highway I asked the Lord to bless her with the ability to properly use her turn signals in the future and to give her a great day while He was at it. But I don't think I was very sincere about that second part. I grimaced as I thought about the morning up to that point, and wondered what could possibly happen next.
“This is a test Lord, right?” I began our conversation, driving on Highway 11 with the seat belt chimes growing louder with each passing moment. Outside the rain began to fall and I noticed for the first time how dreary the morning appeared to be. Dismal, even. I had arranged my daily schedule at work to meet with three different salesmen from three different companies, although none of their products interested me or were something I could use to make our operations more flexible or run smoother. I had grown weary of putting them off and figured I’d run them through at almost one sitting. Maybe I could at least get a good cup of coffee in the office before they began arriving.
As I got out of my truck in the parking lot, one of my employees met me. He’s had a tough life. Prison, broken marriages (plural), financial issues – you name it, his problems read like a grocery list. “G’morning!” he told me, and he smiled. It was a huge smile, a contagious smile. It was a smile that he, with all of his problems, had no business sharing with me. How could he smile? Or better yet, how could he smile and mean it? I thought about that as I crossed the lobby and made my way to the stairs up to my floor, and I knew that this was what I was meant to understand this morning. Coffee is not important. Seat belts can be repaired. I cannot allow my mood to hinge upon the actions of other drivers. Weather patterns change almost hourly. Salesmen come and go and hearing the word ‘no’ is probably not uncommon for them.
I, too, have a lot to smile about. Life has been good to me. God has always been there for me, even when I didn’t take the time to notice Him and what He was doing in my life. Family, check. Wife, perfect. Job, agreeable. Despite the problems of the morning, through the smile of another I was reminded of the inspired words passed down to us through the Apostle Peter, “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.”
He cares for me. Even when I am not at my best. What is even more amazing to me is that he wants me to cast all of those silly cares of mine on Him.
I’m going to do my best to remember this on those rough mornings in the future (which are sure to come), and to try and remember this without a reminder from Him to do so. I’m thankful this morning. So very thankful.