This passage from Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands sprung to mind after the events of this weekend and astutely reflects the story of my life as well. If you don’t have time to read the whole passage, make sure to read the last two paragraphs for the conclusion and lesson.
A humbling example from my own life took place on a Wednesday night. I was driving home particularly exhausted. I love to cook and find it relaxing, so I stopped and bought the ingrediants for a traditional Cuban meal. I could hear the meat searing in the pan, and I could smell the wonderful combination of tomato, garlic, cumin and lemon. I left the grocery store tired but happy, thinking about how much my wife would appreciate the meal, since she was born and raised in Cuba. I was thinking about how our children love black beans and rice, and how they would appreciate me as well. The vision of a happy family and a relaxed dad made me smile as I drove into the garage.
But I was not even out of the car when my daughter greeted me and said she needed a ride downtown (nearly an hour round trip) right away. I couldn’t believe it! I could already feel my emotional temperature rising. I was not yelling, but I drove her downtown in silent irritation. On the way back I gave myself the “this always happens to me” speech. A few blocks from home, Luella called on my cell phone to tell me she had to see someone on her way home from work. She suggested that I not wait for her for supper. She also asked me to run to the store because Darnay, our high school son, didn’t have a thing for his lunch the next day. With my wonderful Cuban meal decaying in the trunk, I drove past our house to another grocery store. This time I was not a happy man! I flung the lunch items in the basket and when I got to the checkout line, I was quite irritated at the elderly lady in front of me who couldn’t find a pen to write her check.
I finally arrived home an hour and a half later to find Darnay standing in the door with a paper in his hands. On the paper were the exact specifications for a scientific calculator he needed for math the next day. Before he could get another word out of his mouth, I exploded. “What am I, the delivery boy for the world? Do you have a clue what my day has been lik? Whatever happened to really learning math, instead of learning how to use a calculator that does it for you? Is this what I am paying for at that school of yours?” I walked into the car, and he followed – at a great distance behind me.
Waiting outside the store, I examined my shattered hopes, wishing someone would pay a little attention to me, and angry with the people who had gotten in my way. I suggested we pick up a couple pizzas for supper, drove home in silence, stored the ingredients for my Cuban meal, and went into the living room to sulk.
Don’t miss the point of this story. My anger was not caused by the people and situations I encountered. My anger was caused by completely legitimate desires that came, wrongly, to rule me. by the time I finished shopping for the Cuban meal, I was holding the desire for a relaxing evening with a closed fist. But God had another plan. He had arranged to give me an evening where I could serve him by serving my family. He gave me the blessing of giving, the joy of laying down my life for others. Yet I did not see it because I was ruled by my own desires. Beneath my war with people, the war for my heart was raging. (82-83)