Years ago I was running errands in downtown Anchorage. I drove up to a local business and parked at the curb to run in. The street was on a steep hill, and as I pulled in behind the next car, I realized that I had made a serious mistake.
The car I was driving was one I had just bought for a song, and I was only driving it out of sheer necessity until I could get something better. It had real problems. One of them was a particularly pronounced problem with the parking gear. The gear was essentially not there; it had no braking effect when it was engaged. The car had to be parked on level ground or it would roll. It really shouldn’t have been on the road at all, but the alternative was unthinkable. Anchorage is a city with a great geographical expanse and has a zero public transportation system. If you want to get anything done in that city, you have to drive.
As I pulled behind the other car on that hill, I realized that I was already so close to its bumper that I had eliminated the perfect solution to the problem, which was to turn the wheels into the curb to prevent the roll. Now I could turn them as sharply as I wanted and I was still going to hit the other car.
So there I sat, my foot on the brake, unable to move, watching people coming and going while I was trapped. Naturally, the driver of the car in front of me wasn’t showing up to get me out of the mess. All I could do was sit there and keep my foot on the brake.
I began to realize that this was a very bad situation indeed. I have always been a very impatient person. I hate being immobilized. Waiting is tolerable to me only when I know that some kind of reasonable progress is being made somewhere, somehow, a process that is going on as I wait. But being in limbo is absolutely intolerable.
Finally I realized that I had to start making some noise or I was going to be there all day. I began calling to the people within earshot, and sure enough a twenty-something gentleman came over and agreed to help. He left and returned in his truck, whereupon he began tying a length of rope to his bumper.
But as I looked at the rope, I saw that it was thin and frayed in places, and I questioned whether it wouldn’t simply break, sending me crashing into the other vehicle anyway. I asked him as much, but he dismissed the thought and continued with his work.
“No really,” I insisted. “I don’t think that thing’s going to hold. I’m afraid to trust it.”
“Listen to me,” he said confidently, “I’ve towed plenty of cars, and I’m telling you it will be fine.”
But the problem was that I had heard too many people give me this kind of sincere and confident assurance only to watch it come to disaster anyway. The more I looked at that thin, pitiful little length of rope, the more I knew that it was going to break. And of course it wasn’t this gentleman who would be on the hook for the repercussions, but me.
So I started calling out to others for a tow rope. I can still see the scene to this day: here was this guy, laboring, uncoiling rope and tying off bumpers while I dismissed him and called for a tow rope. He tried to tell me twice, “Listen, I’ve got you covered. You’re out of here. The rope’s not going to break.” But I only yelled the louder, and the poor guy just kept doing his work with an annoyed light in his eyes.
The rope didn’t break. The guy pulled me out of there and I was saved from hours of unproductive inertia. In retrospect, I regret that I wasn’t able to trust him. In spite of my right to judge the situation for myself (as the stuckee in the event of a mishap), I know that it must have been painful for the guy to be helping someone who gave no credence to his judgment. He knew what he was talking about. My distrust must have looked and felt like total ingratitude to him.
I wonder if that’s how God feels when He’s working things out in our lives. If anyone ever knows what’s what and has a situation in hand, it is Almighty God. And yet so often I do anything other than trust His handling of my problems. What I so often see is insufficient means and unacceptable delays. I always think I know what the indicators of success are and what they look like. It is often only when I’m out of options that I turn to God and stop trying to control the process.
I want to learn to trust Him more. He has way too much credibility for me to be relegating him to last resort.