Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Days in My Life

Some time ago I put together a booklet called ' Days in My Life '.  It contains actual occurrrences in my life through which I have experienced the teachings of God, and some of the poetry that I have written as a result of those experiences.  One of these articles I called ' The Space '.
 The Space
I had been to a prayer meeting at a local church fellowship, where much of the theme had been about patience.  I came out of the meeting with most of these thoughts fresh in my mind.  My friend and myself decided to go to the supermarket, and on the way we met a man that  used to live near me.  ' Hello ', I said, and was about to say ' I was only talking about you the other day' when I remembered that the ' talking about you the other day ' was a neighbour of this man telling me that the man and his wife had parted.  I did not want to embarrass him so I said nothing.  We had a very pleasant conversation and I went off feeling quite pleased with myself at being so tactful.
After visiting the supermarket I dropped my friend off at her house and proceeded to go home when I suddenly remembered that I did not have any bread in the house.  I wanted the bread from the bakers in the middle of town but did not want to pay sixty pence car park fee, fo I thought that I would park at the edge of town in a street that had free parking for an hour, which was a rarity as most streets had double yellow lines.  I decided that the walk back to the bakers was better than paying the sixty pence car park fee, which was nearly the price of the loaf.
When I arrived at this particular street there was just one space left empty.  I was about to pull into it when I noticed a lady who was just driving out of a pub car park into the street, which was a dead end, in order to come out onto the main road.  'Oh ' I thought, ' I'll let her out and then pull into the space. '  I then also noticed a car that had been turning at the top ot the street.  This disturbed my peace a little as I thought he might be going into what had already in my mind become ' my space '.  Then guilt crept in and I thought ' Well he was in the street before me, and if he was going to go into the space then he would be entitled to it.'  Then the thought crossed my mind that he had already passed the space, being at the top end of the street, so maybe he was the previous occupier of the space, and was just turning around to come out onto the main road, after which I could drive into ' my space ' as it was now firmly established in my mind.
Smiling faces and courtesy were all around, with the lady waiting to come out of the pub car park into the side street, with the man who had by now turned at the top of the street and was facing me preparing to come out of the street, and with myself waiting to go into the space after they had both come out.
Suddenly the happy picture became distorted.  There was a large car pulling into the street alongside me. 
' Can't he see me waiting to go in and these two waiting to come out' I thought.  'Beep ', I gave him a gentle attention catcher, pointing to the situation inside the street, and waited for a response.  the only response was his slowly moving into the street.  ' He's trying to get into my space!'  My peace had disappeared and anger was shoving its way in.  ' Beep - beep!' Now much louder attention catchers, and twice as many.  He turned to me with a look that said ' I'm half in now, I might as well go '.  Feeling a threat in the fact that he might have to pull into the space to get out of the way of the other two cars, and that there was nothing I could do about it, suspicion and frustration joined anger in the void left by vacating peace.  He drove past the space however, and tucked himself into a turning area at the top of the street.
I felt a twing of guilt at thinking that the man was out to steal my space.  He might not even have noticed me waiting at the entrance of the street.  He might have thought I was a parked car.  After all, I had left the centre of the road free to allow the two cars to come out.  I began to feel ashamed.  Suddenly, another car entered the street from the main road, this time with a woman driving it.  I beeped the horn and pointed out the situation once more, but she proceeded to try to enter the street.  Now guilt and shame were the first to leave, and frustration and anger ballooned to such a size that there was no room for anything else.  I pulled out into the middle of the road to prevent this new ' space stealer ' from entering the street and immediately tried to get into  the space, which was in front of the car I had been waiting behind.
Afraid that this new driver might drive into the space instead of me, I did not pull foreward enough to allow myself to be able to reverse close enough to the curb so that the lady in the car park could get past me.  After several futile attempts, with an audience of the man waiting at the top of the street, the lady waiting in the car park, the man tucked in the turning area, and the lady waiting behind me, the lady in the pub car park motioned to me that if I moved forward past the car park entrance, then she would be able to get out and I wouold be able to park my car in the space.  Shame returned as anger and frustration diminished in size.  Suspicion edged its way in as a reminder that mayve the lady behind me would move into the space as I pulled forward, but I realized I had no alternative.  I pulled forward and the lady came out of the car park and drove out of the street.  There was no sign of the potential space stealer, and I reversed slowly into the space.  By now there was not room in my mind for anything except shame and humiliation.  Frustration and anger, along with ridiculous suspicion, had been pushed out by these far more powerful spirits.  I lowered my head as the man who had tucked himself in the turning area pulled into the pub car park, probably where he'd always intended to go.
Where was my Christianity?  If the Lord had appeared at that very moment and asked the righteous to step forward, probably everyone in the street including those in the pub would have been more entitled to respond to His call than I would have been.  Righteousness is born in thought, wickedness takes residence through action.
Jesus says ' I desire mercy, and not sacrifice '.  Mercy overlooks injury to self, sacrifice is something given in order to gain something else.  True discipleship will incur loss to self before any gain is achieved.
Not wanting to embarrass my ex neighbour, and wanting to park in the right place were right things to do, but these acts had become smug self righteousness in the light of my latest actions.  I should have been more concerned about the space that housed the spirits than the space that housed my car.
I sadly went for my loaf of bread and thought about the spiritual bread the Lord had already offered me in the prayer meeting, the words on patience.

Lord help me to listen when I hear You speak
Create in me a spirit that is lowly and meek
That I should be a ' doer ' Father of Your precious word
And not just walk away forgetting all that I have heard

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