A Time Of Gratitude

O Lord you have examined my heart and know everything about me.  You know when I sit down or stand up.  You know my every thought when far away.  You chart the path ahead of me and tell me where to stop and rest.  Every moment you know where I am.  Psalms 139:1-3

It was an extremely cold November day in St. Louis, and I was bundled head to toe in a plaid, wooly winter coat, fuzzy gloves, tall black leather boots, and a red woolen cap.  All that was visible was the tip of my frozen nose and my blood-shot eyes weary from hours of studying for final exams.

It was mid-week service night and I was the piano player at church. It was necessary to get out on this cold, snowy evening and make the twenty-five minute trek to the assembly or the poor saints would have to do the hymns accapella. As miserable as I was, I didn’t want the Lord to have to endure such an assault on His divine ears.

I drove through the snowy, winding roads from Webster University, through the little town of Kirkwood, before finally reached highway 44, when I noticed my car was pulling hard to the left. The undeniable struggle of a flat tire was not a welcome problem for me on that cold, dismal evening.

I pulled the car to the side of the road and sat there for a long while, not sure what to do.  Believe me–I had never changed a tire in my life, and was in no mood to learn in the freezing cold, being more given to high heels and frilly blouses, than lug nuts and motor oil. Cell phones were not available in those days and it’s not very often you find a pay phone neatly parked on the side of the interstate.  So, I did what seemed the only logical thing to do–I prayed!  Long and hard, fast and furious, I asked God to help me figure out what in the world to do about the flat tire.

Thoughts of being found frozen and snow-covered in my car shadowed my mind, but I had to push those growing fears aside.  I sat for nearly an hour hoping a police officer would see my hazard blinkers and come to my rescue.  Where’s the knight in shining amour when you really need him? I usually only had the honor of meeting my soldier in blue when I was ignoring a stop sign or exceeding the speed limit, (unfortunately, a common occurrence in those years).

I knew I didn’t deserve to have my prayers answered. I couldn’t blame God if He left me out there on the highway to freeze to death.  Even though I had faith in Him and considered myself a Christian, I’d certainly made some blunders.

In those times of need when we call on God, it’s our sins that run through the mind like a motion picture in living color–reminding us of our unworthiness.  At that moment, all I could think of was what I’d done wrong- the lies I told, my lack of kindness and compassion, the blatant and rebellious choices I knew were against God and His word–they all ran through my mind while I sat in a cold car with a flat tire on a snowy evening.

Another hour passed and I knew the service was over and the hymns sung without me. It’s amazing how insignificant one can feel all alone in the cold. I was beginning to feel pretty sorry for myself when the headlights of a car, pulled up behind me.

My heart began pounding so fast I could hardly catch my breath. I was excited that someone had finally come to my rescue and at the same time, frightened because I didn’t know the identity of my rescuer. I opened the car door and frozen snow and sleet blew into my face as a large man in a heavy brown coat approached me.

“Looks like you have a flat there, M’am.”

“Yes, I do, and I sure hope you can help me,” I replied, the anxiety and the cold causing my voice to shake.

I saw your car on the side of the road as I was driving east, and felt like I should turn around and come back to help you.  I’m not sure why I did, because I’ve never done this before, but I just felt like I had to.”

Without another word he popped my trunk, pulled out the spare, jacked my car up and in twenty minutes had my tire changed.

I didn’t have a dime in my pocket or a dollar in my wallet to give this wonderful man, but I thanked him profusely and offered my fuzzy-gloved hand to him in appreciation for his kindness.  He just smiled at me, shook my hand and returned to his vehicle.  I watched as he drove away and asked God to give him a special blessing for his amazing compassion on such a miserable night.

As I drove away, all I could think of was God’s mercy and His love for me, in spite of my shortcomings and mistakes.  Why did He value me so much?  I knew it wasn’t justified.  I hadn’t earned His favor, and never could.  And yet, He loved me just the same–as though I was pure and perfect with no fault.

O Lord you have examined my heart and know everything about me. (And evenso, you love me still.) You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my every thought when far away.  You chart the path ahead of me and tell me where to stop and rest. Every moment you know where I am. (Even in a car with a flat tire by the side of the road.)

In those times when I doubt my worth and wonder if my life will ever amount to much, I think back to that snowy night by the roadside. That’s just one more reason to be grateful for God’s boundless love and compassion toward me.  I’m grateful His love is not predicated on my accomplishments or my failures.  But rather, a free and priceless gift from the One who knows everything about me and still calls me His own.

©2008, Tamra Nashman

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