Are you ready for story time with Jill, the part of the show where Jill tells you a silly story from when she was young? Okay… honesty moment, the story I am about to tell is true… at least as far as I remember it. I asked my mom and she didn’t recall this incident. So, there is that. Perhaps then it isn’t real. Maybe the event wasn’t anything worth her remembering. Or a third option, I was such an incorrigible child that this story pales in comparison to all the other things I’ve done. You pick.
This story starts when Jill was 6-8 years old. Picture included for context and maybe so that if you see how cute I was you might forgive a little bit of the absurdity of what I’m going to tell you about myself. I think the bunny ears really accentuate my adorable little kid face, don’t you? Okay, enough with the distractions and back to story time.
This story started on a night before we were supposed to go to my grandparent’s house. And, like any good grandchild, I liked to visit their house. There were fun things to explore, grandma had candy and cookies she’d share, my aunt and cousin lived there too and we liked to play… you probably know how I felt that night: Excited.
Now here’s the thing: at some point I went out to the car. I’m not sure if I was helping mom put things in for the next day or I went out there with another purpose. But what I do remember is the gas gauge. I remember it well because things were not as they should have been and what I saw that night threatened my greatly desired plans. That gas gauge, you’ve probably guessed, was on empty.
And I was concerned. How could we get to grandma’s house if the gas tank was empty? So I went and asked pestered my mom about the situation. I’m not sure what she said exactly, but it seems she told me it was fine, we would have plenty of gas to get to grandma’s house.
But my need to know would not be so easily satisfied.
The more she insisted we were fine, the more I fussed. After all, the gas gauge was reading empty. Even in my little 6-8 year old mind I knew that a car needed gas to work and ours clearly didn’t have any… the gauge did say empty.
My need to know, unsatisfied questioning, and control issues quickly turned into a tantrum.
The thing is, as I’m sure you’ve already figured out, there was something I didn’t know… something that was critical to understanding the situation. My 6-8 year old self had no idea that the gas gauge only read empty because the car was off.
My relentless questioning, my angry attitude, my tantrum throwing… completely unnecessary. My mom had the situation under control. But it didn’t look like it to me. Her answer that we had plenty of gas went against all the evidence I’d observed. In my reasoning concluded she was wrong and things couldn’t be worse.
All that stress I caused myself, completely unnecessary.
If only I had realized I was 6 and I had no knowledge compared to my mom when it comes to how cars work and the whole gas gauge situation. If only I had trusted that my mom would take care of me. If only I stopped thinking I had to know it all, understand it all, control it all…
But I didn’t.
Truth be told: I still don’t.
I might not throw temper tantrums at my mom the same but God and I sure have similar conversations. And maybe you can relate.
Does life look a little empty?
Maybe like you’ve blown a tire?
Have you gotten in a wreck?
What about when the trip takes longer than you’d like?
There are times that our reaction to life circumstances looks a whole lot like my 6 year old self throwing a tantrum. All those years ago I was wrong, so very wrong.
We aren’t so different today. Sorry to say, there is a lot we still need to learn and trust is a difficult thing. Whether we go through life’s most difficult moments like Job and wonder why this is our fate, look to the future as Moses did to see the Promised Land only from a distance, find ourselves like Peter ready to fight with swords as Christ calls us to submit to the most unlikely like Peter and the disciples, desire to be found worthy to sit at Christ’s right hand and be taught a humbling reality like James and John, look on incredulously as Jesus does the impossible with a few fish and a couple loaves of bread, or walk through our daily life completely unaware of the presence of God with us like the two on the road to Emmaus… there are so many times when we face a choice with God like I did with my mom:
Will I place my faith solely in what I can see and choose to trust only in what I can understand?
There is a reason Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” and Proverbs 3:5 instructs, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”
These aren’t mere platitudes to make us feel good or witty words to put on our wall.
Will I live by them?
We each have to choose what we’re believing in… and we have to be honest. It doesn’t do us any good to pretend. But how do we know where our hope lies? Sometimes it is the things that make us mad, scared, disappointed, hopeless… the ways we strive for fulfillment, understanding, peace, recognition, security… the times we feel lost, abandoned, uncertain that reveal in what we’re truly placing our trust, hope, joy and peace.
It seems that the moments we feel farthest from where we need to be, well, we actually may be the closest we’ve ever been. Because when we come to the end of our strength, our patience, our peace, our hope, our understanding… that is right when we can finally get out of the way and let God be God as we submit ourselves ever-more to Him.