Today I went to the elementary school to pick up three second graders—two of them belonged to me and one was coming to our house until her mom got back from Anchorage. Now, the parking lot at our elementary school gets pretty crowded at the end of the day. There are busses filling up and getting on their way. But, there are also a whole lot of parents there to take kids home or to various after school events. There’s soccer and dance and girl scouts and boy scouts and church functions and hikes and all sorts of stuff. With the rain of the past few days, I’m sure most of the activities were going to be inside ones.
Because the parking lot can get a little hectic with all those vehicles trying to leave at the same time, I find it easier getting out of the lot if I back into a spot first; you know, so I can put out straight and get on my merry way.
Now, something you need to know about me. I am not a very good parker. I’m a fine driver. But I seem to have an inability to pull into parking places in a manner that is anywhere close to straight. I’m almost always within the lines. But, really, I should do better. It is not uncommon at grocery stores and shopping centers to pull into a spot and have my wife comment about my parking job. And the grief she occasionally gives me is totally justified.
So, today I backed into that parking space at the school and—lo and behold!—it was straight. And (as I mentioned) I even backed in! This is a little thing. I know it’s a little thing. It’s just a minor accomplishment. And yet, for a brief moment (OK, for about 15 minutes) I actually felt good about myself was emotionally patting myself on the back all because I backed into a parking space—something people do all the time. And I confess that I actually played out in my head how I was going to recount my parking job to some of the parents I knew that I’d see up at the entrance to the school. I was going to tell them, “I feel like I’m God’s gift to parking.” I might have even pointed to the car and how straight it was between those lines and how the job I did made it so much easier for cars to pull in to the left and right of me. It’s PARALLEL!
But I didn’t say anything.
I got sidetracked in my hunt for my kids.
Yet I will say I did admire that parking job as we made our way back to the car. I didn’t tell the kids, though. They wouldn’t appreciate what a good job I had done.
All this is to say that I was pretty proud of myself over such a little thing.
This got me thinking.
Here I was today, briefly elated, momentarily proud, all because I did something that would normally not be noticed by anyone at all. How many people around me, each and every day, are doing the ordinary stuff of life…but doing it well. They are making me a strong hot americano, just the way I like it. They are bagging groceries without putting the cleaners next to the bread and cereal. They are asking how they can help when they see me running around before worship. They are grooming the dog so he looks dapper once again. They are providing great customer service. They are teaching our kids dance or music. They are making us our Subway sandwiches.
Perhaps they don’t think of themselves as “God’s gift” to whatever task they are accomplishment. But what would it look like if I recieved what they did with that understanding, giving them praise, thanking them for a job well done and thinking of them as, in fact, God’s gift to me at that time, in that place, for such a simple task as this? Perhaps, to be a little tongue in cheek, they would have a little extra spring in their step and a little song in their heart. Or, at least, they would feel proud.
James 1:17 tells us: “Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heaven.”
Who is God’s gift for our lives today?