It’s those little things that slam me backward into feeling like someone’s leftover trash, that leave me feeling worthless as a Christian, with nothing to offer. Maybe it is because when the little things hit, I think I should be able to control them and me. When the big things come, I know instantly I have no control.
A couple of months ago, I wrote the first part of the story of my lost wallet. That was not a little thing. It was a huge thing. I’d lost it at the pier in Pismo Beach just at the beginning of the 6 week period of Spring Break rotations, with thousands of people coming to spend as much time as possible at the beach.
God and I were regular companions; bible study, prayer, gratitude journaling all continued. We hung out together through the day and night. I prayed for friends who were struggling, wrote notes to encourage, got outdoors for exercise, and went to bed earlier. I chose trust over fear, prayer over reaction, and knew God was with me in all those little things as He had been That Night When I Lost My Wallet. If you missed the first part of the story, you can read it here.
I just knew God would return my wallet. As far as He was concerned, the wallet wasn’t lost, it was waiting to be recovered. I was calm, and although I dreaded telling Ron because he already felt miserable, I knew God had a plan. All was well, a bit confusing, but well.
Ron said he felt a momentary twinge of freak-out as I told the story, but it was gone quickly and replaced with the same kind of peace I continued to feel. We agreed I should call the police to see if my wallet had been turned in to lost and found. That done, and with no positive result, I began creating a list of what was in the wallet, collecting phone numbers to call in the morning and de-activating or canceling whatever I could online. Because I was certain my wallet would be returned, I felt almost hypocritical about canceling my bank card. Yet, I didn’t want to presume God’s choice of timing.
The next morning, as soon as I had good light to search, I went back to the Pismo pier. There weren’t many people out, so the area was pretty easy to cover. First I looked in the parking lot, then out on the pier where I had walked the night before, and finally back down on the beach beneath the pier. I moved to the high-water line and searched in the dips around the pier pilings, under and around clumped seaweed, but there was no sign of my wallet. Climbing back up the steps to the pier and parking lot, I began to ask people if they’d seen my wallet. I met Crazy Larry and Dr. John, one homeless and one not, both very kind. Then there was the lady who wanted to be sure I’d taken the proper safety steps, more of a problem solver than a listener. I wanted to escape long before she finished questioning and lecturing. Whew! The result of the search was clear, no wallet!
Ron wasn’t well enough to drive; his lack of balance, vertigo, nausea, and migraines were an instant disqualification. Friends from out of town were coming to visit for a couple of days, and I’d planned to buy groceries the night before, that is, before I lost my wallet. With Ron’s debit card in hand, I bought the items on my list and hurried home to continue preparations. As I went from errand to errand, I continued to ask God’s protection and His will, as well as thank Him for whatever result He had in mind.
Of course, we told the tale of my missing wallet to our friends and prayed again for the safe return. After a meal highlighted with stories and laughter, our friends left for their hotel. A final check with the local police about whether my wallet had been turned in was met with another negative, so Ron and I went to bed. When I have a problem, my mind usually keeps buzzing after I slip into bed. This time I quickly fell asleep.
Having invited our friends to join us for breakfast the next morning, I was busy in the kitchen when I heard a knock at our door. Ron and I shouted a jolly, “Come in!” to our friends, but the only reply was another knock. Knowing our friends aren’t quite that formal, Ron opened the door and greeted someone who asked, “Does Joni Gerking live here?”
That had my instant attention. “Yes, I’m Joni,” I responded as I moved hurriedly to the door.
“Are you missing a wallet?” the man asked.
At my affirmative answer, the man said he had it in his car outside. I followed him out to his vehicle, met his wife and listened to his story of finding my wallet at the beach early Friday morning. The gentleman and his wife often visit from the valley and enjoy finding lost items with their metal detector, then returning the treasures to their owners. He and his wife had even found a wedding ring and been able to find the couple who lost it.
The man gave me my wallet and asked me to check to be sure everything was as I’d left it. Although I didn’t feel the need, I knew nothing would be gone, I checked it for his sake. Yes, my drivers license, debit card, insurance card, and all the other things were inside. They were barely damp, the man told me, and remarked it was a very good wallet. The man and his wife were uncomfortable taking the wallet to the police and had some trouble finding me, but were finally successful and wanted to deliver it in person.
My tongue tripped over itself as I tried to thank them and gently tell them I knew God had protected my wallet for me. I wanted to ask their names and address, to send a note thanking the couple for their kindness, but they were moving out of the driveway and down the road. I stood and waved and inwardly thanked God for sending His angels to find and deliver my wallet.
When our friends arrived for breakfast, we told them they had missed seeing the angels that morning. As we asked God’s blessing for the food, we also offered heartfelt thanks for His protection and care.
I’d tried several times to write the rest of this story, and each time I got stuck. I’d thought the second part would be easy to write, because the first half of the story had easily poured into the blog. But it just wouldn’t come out. I couldn’t figure it out. After all, it was a true story, my personal experience, non-fiction.
The writing block was only one of several little things; a minor—but persistent—infection, a surprising relationship problem with a friend (now resolved), sleep interruptions, and a whole cement mixer full of everyday life episodes. The little things take me out.
Maybe I think I should be able to handle the little stuff. As I wrote earlier, the big things are way too big for me to consider fixing. The little things sneak up, sneak in on me and before I know what I’m doing, I’m already headlong into the mud.
I did fine without air conditioning on the trip we made to Stanford in the middle of the unseasonal heat-wave. I tried to recharge the A/C, but could not. I called to borrow a car for the journey, but the air conditioning on that car was broken, too. So, I asked God to either provide a vehicle with air conditioning or help us deal with the heat. He helped us deal with the heat. The temperature was over 110 degrees in the car, (I didn’t want to know more at the time) and God took care of us. I did great. But when we got home and our door would not open because the lock was broken, I felt angry and abused. I was far too hot and tired to mess about with little things like broken locks.
Yes, we were able to get into the house with the help of friends— and a locksmith. Thank God for friends who come to support us, listen, commiserate, and laugh with us!
“Let go of your concerns!
Then you will know that I am God.
I rule the nations.
I rule the earth.”
Psalm 46:10 God’s Word Translation
This is the thing. To reword a quote from Robert Frost, I still have miles to go before I’m through. I’m still learning to give up my concerns to God. He takes care of me in the big things and the little things. Whether I remember to turn things over to Him right away or half way through or even close to the end, He loves me. God is patient with me; He never walks away. He knows I’m more like a two year old than I want to be, struggling to do it myself. He reminds me to let go and relax into His love.
Shout triumphantly to the Lord, all the earth!
Serve the Lord with celebration!
Come before him with shouts of joy!
Know that the Lord is God—
he made us; we belong to him.
We are his people,
the sheep of his own pasture.
Enter his gates with thanks;
enter his courtyards with praise!
Thank him! Bless his name!
Because the Lord is good,
his loyal love lasts forever;
his faithfulness lasts generation after generation.