Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Parking Ticket

I saw it as soon as I walked out of Angela's apartment,  the piece of paper secured beneath one of the windshield wipers on my green minivan.  Oh no!  I had been in there no more than ten minutes, just enough time to help her finish getting the kids ready for school and to grab them a quick breakfast to eat on the way.  I had never parked in that spot in all the years she'd lived there, even though it was directly in front of her place.  But I'd been in a hurry that morning and when pulling in hadn't thought much of the blue lines that set this particular parking space apart.  I just knew it was close and I was running  late. All these years without a ticket, and it had to be now.  I read the charge and then the amount I was going to have to fork over.  Eighty dollars.

It had been a difficult few months.  I had flown to New York in February to see my father who was not well,  never dreaming he'd die while I was there visiting.  During this same time Larry had become very sick and was losing a great deal of weight, becoming weaker by the day.  He was seeing several doctors and having every kind of procedure imaginable, even being tested for cancer.  But up til now we were still without answers.  On top of all this, we were going through some personal problems with a couple of our  kids.  One situation was especially serious, involving money and the courts.  I was worn out, frazzled.   And now I had this stupid ticket.  I knew that paying the fee wasn't going to break us, but it was the last of an accumulation, the proverbial straw that was about to break the camel's back. 

I mulled over that ticket for several days and finally determined that I was going to City Hall to fight the charge.  Sure, I had parked illegally. One time. But my record was stellar, and hopefully they would see that.  I'd go to that office that handled all the court fees,  promising it wouldn't happen again,  and ask if they would consider letting this one go.  So on Wednesday, the only day one could contest a ticket, I headed to town after finishing up my morning music classes, swinging by the church first, asking my ailing husband if he'd go with me for moral support.  He did.

As we approached the office, I was surprised to see such a large number of people already there, sitting on benches, standing in the hall or waiting near the window for their turn.  I looked at Larry disappointed, we were going to be here for a long time.  Suddenly, out of the office door came a young, slender, dark-skinned woman holding some papers. "I've been waiting for you," she exclaimed.  Then without warning she reached over and snatched the ticket out of my hand.  "This has been taken care of," and without another word quickly turned and went back through the door, closing it behind her.   

Stunned,  Larry and I walked silently back down the hallway and through the outer doors.  It wasn't until we were outside that we turned and looked at each other. "What just happened here?"  he asked.  I shook my head, bewildered. And then I started to cry.  God had taken care of my ticket!  And in that moment He spoke these words to my heart.  "If I can take care of your parking ticket, don't you think I can take care of these other things, things of much more importance.  Like your husband and your children?"

There were still several difficult and challenging months ahead for us.  Eventually Larry would find out that the infusions he'd been receiving for his Rheumatoid Arthritis had caused a horrible, almost lethal reaction in his body.  With a change of medication, his strength and weight came back.  And somehow I got through the rest of the stuff as well.  Yes, it was hard, even painful at times. But I was never again overwhelmed by the events that were happening in my life.  How could I be?

There are still times when hard things happen, scary things.   Like when the disciples were terrified of the storm, of drowning, even though Jesus was there with them, sleeping in the hold of the boat.  They woke him up and asked him if he cared.  Seriously?  So he asked them right back why they were so afraid.  They had just seen him do some amazing things, like feeding thousands of people with a couple of fish and a few rolls.  Geesh!  And then he asked them why even after all that, they still didn't have faith, how they could forget so quickly what they had seen and experienced.  But I probably shouldn't be so hard on those guys.  I do the same thing at times, especially when I am afraid.  Then God scolds me and reminds me of what He's done before, and asks if I trust Him to do those things again. 

By the way.  I'll never know for sure if that young woman who took care of me was an angel or not.  Larry had been at that office several times over the years and says he never saw her until that day and never saw her again.  But that isn't the most important part of this story anyways.  What does matter is that my Heavenly Father was concerned for me then and still is today.  And that means that whatever storms may come,  He still whispers, "If I can take care of a parking ticket, won't you trust me with the rest?"
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