Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Small Potatoes

            Burdened with overstuffed handbag, rolling suitcase, and ukulele, I maneuver around the front door and manage to pull it shut behind me. At least the sun is sort of up and it’s not raining. I safely cross the compacted snow and ice separating me from my car, unlock it, and stow the suitcase and ukulele in the back seat.
            Finally in the driver’s seat, I start my car. Only it’s not my car. My car was making a funny scraping sound and went to visit a mechanic. This is my husband’s car. It’s newer than mine, runs smoother, and the Sirius XM radio comes in clearly all the time. But I don’t like it. If I were in my car, it would already be warm. A brilliantly conceived Christmas gift from my sons a few years ago, a remote starter, means I happily press a button and the car starts and warms up while I frantically rush around inside for a few more minutes.
            Today, the hub’s car is cold. Jack Frost decorated the front windshield and vandalized the rear windshield. My hub’s pristinely empty car has no ice scrapers. He must have moved them to the rental he’s using. My ice tools went to see the mechanic with my car. So I must wait for the wires in the back window to melt the ice. I’ve always wondered why the auto designers don’t put wires in the front. I must wait for cold air blowing from the cold heater to melt the cold ice on the front windshield. 
             I’m going to be late for school.
            As small patches of clear glass appear, I run the windshield wipers in a feeble attempt to spread the warmth. Finally after an hour, or maybe five minutes, there’s more clear glass than frost and I start driving. There’s still not heat. Also the car doesn’t quite fit my body. I sit on a thick cushion. The seat is so far forward to reach the pedals that my knee bumps the steering column.
            I turn on my hub’s superior Sirius radio and I can clearly hear more drama about the White House staff. Ugh. The stress of the presidential campaign and election and aftermath and inauguration and aftermath just won’t go away.
             I turn off News and choose Symphony. Some intense pianist is beating the keys in a stress-elevating staccato rhythm. Ugh.
            How do I find Sirius’s Christian station? How do I get out of Sirius and find WGRC, my local Christian radio station? I need Don and Dave’s badinage in the morning. I need encouraging music. I need Luis Palau. All available by pressing button 4 on my radio in my car which is at the mechanic’s.
            After ten miles, the car is finally warm, but still silent. I try to remember an encouraging song I can sing to myself. A few lines from a back-in-the-day song emerge, “Reach out to Jesus; he’s reaching out to you.” I sing with my croaky morning voice and more lines come.
Is your burden heavy as you bear it all alone?
Does the road you’re traveling harbor dangers yet unknown?
Are you growing weary in the struggle of it all?
Jesus will help you when on his name you call.
He is always there, hearing every prayer, faithful and true.
Walking by his side, in his strength we hide, all the day through.
When you get discouraged and you don’t know what to do,
Reach out to Jesus; he’s reaching out to you.
            I come close to remembering the words. I sing it several more times to myself and to the Lord.
            I remember my favorite passage from the Message paraphrase of the Bible.
So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever. 2 Corinthians 4:16 – 18

            The more serious NIV renders the verse, “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”
            It’s popular nowadays to call this kind of stuff “first world problems.” While women in other parts of the world are walking miles to get water and carrying it on their heads back to their village, I feel put out because I have to drive my hub’s VW instead of my PT Cruiser.
            But I prefer the very American idiom, small potatoes. The stuff I’m facing this morning is smaller than small potatoes. It’s smaller than a tater tot or a single shred of hash browns. 

            Thank you, Lord, for reminding me.

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