Read and Respond: #LentChallenge

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Tuesday morning, after my husband and the boys walked out to the garage, after they were supposed to be backing out of the driveway and on their way to the bus stop, my husband walked back in.

“Can you take the boys?” he said, clearly a little frazzled. “The garage door is broken.”

“Sure,” I said, grabbing my coat and purse and heading out to tell the boys the news. But before we could take off, Steve realized that he wouldn’t be able to pry open the heavy gargage door by himself now that the spring had sprung in two. So, with me on one end, Steve on the other, and our eldest running the wall-mounted door opener, we pushed and arranged and dropped and pushed and lifted and raised the thing open far enough to get the van out.

As the door closed again, I knew our garage wouldn’t see the light of day until we had spent at least a couple hundred bucks. Little did I know, fixing the garage door was just the beginning.

Later that same evening, driving home from a day with my mom and nephew playing at the park, reading books at the library, eating at Dairy Queen, and making more paper airplanes than one aunt could fly, I felt something rumble in my right front tire. The rumble was followed by the burning smell. And the burning smell was followed by the wafting smoke. Thankfully, I was able to stop when I pulled in the driveway.

I got out of the car to see what had happened, and the metal gadgets just behind my tire were glowing red. Glowing red! That’s not supposed to happen to brakes, especially brakes that were just replaced last October.

By the time I had gathered my things and walked into the house, I was convinced I needed a new car. I worked hard to hold back tears as I told Steve about the rumbling and the smoke and the glowing. “Oh, and my keys fell completely out of the ignition while I was driving today,” I told him. “I was driving down the road, and I bumped the keys, and they went flying through the air onto the seat. And the car just kept going.” He shook his head. We probably needed to have that fixed, too. A couple hundred bucks for the garage door suddenly seemed like a bargain.

I went to bed restless, woke up at 3:30 a.m. worried about how we would pay for all the repairs, and then, Wednesday happened.

During breakfast, our youngest son, upon hearing me talk about getting the car towed announced that “everything is breaking.” And though it had been 70 degrees on Tuesday, the rain turned to sleet and the sleet turned to snow just before Steve and the boys had to step outside to get into the van. The garage door wasn’t fixed yet.

With them on their way, I settled in to work from home since I clearly wasn’t going to drive an hour to the office with glowing brakes. About 20 minutes into my morning, my computer froze. I tried closing down the folders. I tried relaunching the program I was working in. Finally, I tried logging off and back on. That’s when I noticed the modem had gone black.

“Seriously?” I asked no one in particular. After all the usual attempts to get back online, I called the cable company to be notified that service to the whole area was out. For at least three hours. So, after calling my boss to make arrangements to work in the afternoon instead of the morning, I tried switching over to some of the freelance work I do. Then, the power went out.

“Great! I can’t handle one more thing,” I seethed out loud, this time hoping that maybe God was listening. Because I really was at the end of my rope. After just a few seconds, the power came back on. But I was done.

I grabbed my Bible and decided that since I couldn’t do anything else, at least I could get my daily New Testament reading for the #LentChallenge out of the way while I waited for the internet to be restored. Plowing my way through Mark, I noticed how very similar it all sounded after having just read through the book of Matthew in the previous few days. The healings, the parables, the disciples, the Pharisees — not only did they all make repeat appearances, but the exact same stories were retold from another perspective.

Particularly, the stories of the miraculous feeding of the 5,000 and the 4,000 caught my attention. Well, not exactly the stories themselves, but what came just after that.

The Pharisees were there arguing with Jesus, testing him with their requests for a sign. In a move that seems nothing short of exasperated, Jesus gathers the disciples together, heads to the boat, and takes off back across the Sea of Galilee. On the boat, he starts talking about the “leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod,” clearly warning them about the deception and hypocrisy of the Jewish and Roman leadership. But rather than really hearing Jesus and his teaching, the disciples assume it’s a passive aggressive attempt to blame them for forgetting the bread.

“Why are you talking about bread?” Jesus asks them, just hours – or at most days – after he just turned seven loaves into a banquet for 4,000. “Don’t you get it? If we needed bread, I’d get us bread.”

Poor, silly disciples, I was thinking to myself as I read. They really DON’T get it.

Then, just like that, I realized: I don’t get it either. I’ve survived cancer four times; I’ve been paralyzed and fully recovered four times; I didn’t get married for the first time until I was 42; I’ve moved to a brand new city and a brand new life 8 times since college; I’ve had car accidents and family problems and job stress and financial problems more times than I can count. And not one time have I endured any of those things without Jesus, not once has he failed to help me grow and mature through the trials.

And now, a broken garage door, a burned out brake, and a dropped internet connection are too much to handle? No way.

I sigh. I smile. I feel the heat of conviction turn to a warm comfort in my soul.

I get it, I say to the God who made me. I’m glad you’re here.

__________

AUTHOR: Mark
TITLE: The Gospel According to Mark, The Bible
WHERE TO GET IT: You can read the whole book online in multiple versions at BibleGateway.com.

AUTHOR: Margaret Feinberg
TITLE: #LentChallenge
WHERE TO GET IT: Visit Margaret’s blog for more information about the #LentChallenge to read the whole New Testament during Lent. It’s not too late to get started.

Photo by bagaball, via Flickr, used with permission under the Creative Commons License.

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Charity Singleton Craig

Charity Singleton Craig is a writer, author, and speaker, helping readers grow in their faith and experience true hope in the middle of life’s joys and sorrows. She is the author of My Year in Words: what I learned from choosing one word a week for one year and coauthor of On Being a Writer: 12 Simple Habits for a Writing Life That Lasts.


  • Margaret Feinberg ,

    I love this, Charity! Thank you for sharing your heart. I’m glad He’s here too.

  • Diana Trautwein ,

    Megan is onto something here. It IS the little things that pile up and bury us! Beautifully written, Charity. Hope all those littler things are settling down a bit now – it’s so weird how they come in waves like that! Been there – too many times to count.

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      Charity Singleton Craig ,

      Diana – Yes, all is well. We are a little poorer and the garage door is still broken, but we are feeling better about it all!

    • Megan Willome ,

      I think it’s the little things–especially a bunch in a short time like you wrote about here–that undo us. When the stakes are high (cancer), we often rise to the occasion. When the stakes are low, the lowest parts of ourselves are revealed.

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        Charity Singleton Craig ,

        Megan – I do believe you are right. It’s amazing how the little things can just undo me. Thanks for being here.

      • Steve Craig ,

        Very interstering!

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          Charity Singleton Craig ,

          Steve – And you were there saving the day yesterday! We go the car back today. Just a little poorer, but otherwise mostly unscathed!