My car getting hit by a bus. The first time didn’t do it. Getting hit by the guy in the parking lot of my insurance company didn’t do it. Having surprise open-heart surgery at 40 didn’t do it. My wife getting hit by a truck didn’t do it. Getting hit by a different bus for the second time didn’t even do it. What did do it was a truly inconsequential event that was choreographed to strip the scab of frustration from my injured spirit.
It wasn’t the car or the driving, the heart surgery or my wife’s accident, although those things all played a part. It probably started a little more than three years ago with a case of culture shock that took me by surprise. We heard the call of God and moved to rural Paraguay, South America.
For the last three and a half years, daily circumstances have been chipping away at my spiritual exterior. The inability to communicate well, the isolation, a totally new way of life and different foods all weighed heavily on me. Add to those difficulties in ministry, several instances where we were taken advantage of, and a handful of legal matters in a system we don’t understand, and you have an epic portion of frustration mounting.
I went to God virtually by the minute. I was pleading for what I thought would fix the situation. I kinda missed the part about His will and all that entails. My petitions seemed to fall on deaf ears. Where was He?
On this day I found myself elbow deep in the door of the car. Yes, the very car that a few hours earlier was the target of extreme bus prejudice. The passenger door would not open from the inside or the outside. This was not the fault of the wreck but of the 15 year-old car. After 2 hours of work, sweat, and demi-curses, I was ready to put the door back together again.
Wait just a minute, I’m no idiot. I always check my work before I wrap it all up. Smooth as silk. The door opened like new from the inside and the outside both. So I screwed the door panel on and moved all my tools from the floor to the box. That’s when it happened. I shut the door for the first try after finishing.
The sorry piece of crap would. Not. Open. It wouldn’t open from the inside. It wouldn’t open from the outside. Nothing I did could cause the passenger door of my car to budge.
That’s the thing that did it.
The helplessness and frustration began, at first, as a slow roll. It quickly gave way to a full-blown boil. My morning spent wasted over a hit-and-run bus accident came crashing in my mind. The prayers for healing for my damaged heart that went unnoticed surfaced. The fear and pain I unsuccessfully tried to stave away from my wife came roaring by. In a split second this minor irritant caused a fracture in my control through which so many of my disappointments with God flooded out.
With my head spinning in aggravation I did what I thought was right, I prayed. That’s when it happened. I opened my mouth and the first words I heard myself say were:
“I just don’t trust you anymore God.”
Silence. It crashed through my mind what I had just said.
It wasn’t a curse. It wasn’t a yell. It was a calm, matter-of-fact statement. A statement that wasn’t tainted with the lie of Christians don’t say these things. It wasn’t filtered through the pressure of what if someone finds out I feel that way. What exited my mouth as an indictment against God became incriminating evidence against me.
At hearing my own voice betray my heart I had to find a place to think. Why would I say that? It was true, I don’t trust God. I used to, so what changed? He didn’t, so it must have been me. My initial feeling was,
“You keep pulling the rug out from under me and I’m tired of it. I’m tired of you jerking me around. You said you would be there.”
I am so arrogant. To think, I was telling the Creator of All things that I was tired of His presence in my life. I found that in review I trusted God when He was in agreement with me. I trusted Him to stay in His little Sunday religious box and have no comment on the things outside of His specialty. I would call Him when I was in a jam and needed something fixed.
That worked pretty well as long as I maintained a fairly stale Christian walk. If I stayed superficial and didn’t get to far from my safety net of friends, family and church my trust for God “soared.” The problem was I took Him at His word and moved out of the country to be a missionary.
When I got off my agenda and onto His, things started getting out of my control. I had to believe God had my best interest in mind. I didn’t. I trusted Him enough to go all-in and move to South America but not enough to give Him top-billing in my life. I still wanted Him to “run things by me.”
In a moment of emotional vexation I was provoked by trial and the truth of my heart washed to the surface. Now, by God’s grace I get to cope with my busted trust and place Him back on the throne of my life.