Once upon a time, I was traveling cross-country with my collegiate volleyball team. It was bone-achingly late when we trudged over to the rental car counter to pick up two vans I’d reserved four months prior.
“Vans? What vans?” the rental-car-man said one too many times as I held out a fully-paid contract for two 15-passenger vans reserved for THIS EXACT DAY AND THIS EXACT TIME THAT IS EXACTLY NOW.
“Look. I can’t help you, lady,” he said. All I know is that I don’t have any vans available for you and your team tonight. I need you to move along.”
And then I called him a Jackass.
Who am I when life says: “I know you were expecting your Very Important Thing to happen in this particular way but – sorry not sorry – it’s not going down like that today?”
If you become icy, pushy, or spectacularly rude when your well-laid plans are unapologetically thwarted, I know from experience that it’s difficult to remember who you really are: You are a son or daughter in whom Christ dwells.
This means that Christ goes with us throughout his entire kingdom. He is with us, for example, as we wander the darkest, most remote, and farthest-reaching ends of an unfamiliar rental car garage at two-thirty in the morning.
He goes with us as we stalk the economy car aisle in a murderous rage.
He is with us as we lead our weary people through a chilly concrete wilderness, knowing they have a really big game the next day; a very important game; a game that could make or break a coach’s entire season. Yes, Christ goes with us even there.
As God’s daughter, I don’t get to choose the times or places I’d like to best image him in his kingdom. He is with me, even when the screaming steam from my white-hot frustration hides his face and drowns his voice.
Christ is with us when the wheels come off. Christ is with us when the piled-high wagon of cow manure hits the fan. Christ is with us even as we consider hurling themselves across a rental-car counter to commit justifiable homicide.
So who am I when the day begins to unravel, sour, or spin out of control?
Who am I when my Very Important Thing isn’t handled with the appropriate care or consideration I believe I deserve? Who am I when I’m disrespected or discounted? Who am I when I experience less-than-satisfactory conditions out in God’s kingdom?
I am a daughter or son in whom Christ dwells, and I go with him throughout his kingdom as his own image. Not because I am very good (clearly) but because He is.
So when the day goes off the rails and I respond by acting like a princess, a martyr, or a royal jerk, I’ve forgotten an essential Christian truth: I live in the kingdom of a God who loves me [and also the rental-car-man] and is caring for me [and also the rental-car-man].
Sadly, I acted no more like a “Christian” that night than the insufferable boob of a rental-car man did. We both behaved very badly, but I can assure you, I behaved far worse. In fact, had there been a competition to see who could act LEAST like a child made in God’s image, I’d have won the gold medal, hands down.
Could it be that both of us – me and the rental-car man – in the consuming dark of our own personal frustration, had temporarily forgotten who we were?
It’s no stunning achievement to be considerate of the less-than-considerate when I’m rested and ready; when others are aware of how important This Thing is to me and take appropriate action. It’s easy to offer heaven’s shalom when everyone acts respectfully and in due alignment with my expectations.
But it’s almost impossible to remain peaceable when I’m wretchedly wrung out and under the gun. Less so when a person who’s able to help seems unwilling, indifferent, patronizing, or worse, to take sadistic pleasure in my frustration. I need God’s help.
Who are you, “Christian”, when Life says: “I know this matters to you, but – sorry not sorry – it’s not going down like that today”? Who are you when the white-hot steam starts to scream? You need God’s help.
You are a son or daughter; an image of God; a person in whom Christ chooses dwell.
Shalom to you and yours, Christian, because you have God’s help. Not because you are always or especially good, of course, but because He ALWAYS is.