My daughter attends a charter school downtown that I drive her to and pick her up from every day. Yesterday, I did some grocery shopping, then headed straight to the school to pick her up even though I was going to be forty minutes early. Since I was so early, I shut the car off after getting into the carpool line and kicked on my Kindle. Forty minutes later, as kids starting pouring out of the school, I cranked the car and… nothing. Not even a flicker of power, other than the orange CHECK ENGINE light glaring at me… the “your car is so dead” light.
As I searched for the roadside assistance card, started making phone calls, and texted my husband who was just about to board a flight to Texas, the chaos of kids running down the sidewalk and cars careening around me died off. My daughter and I were suddenly surrounded by the eeriness of a quiet school ground… in downtown… with boarded up houses across the street. It was going to take an hour and 15 minutes for the tow truck to arrive.
“Dear Jesus, please keep up safe…” the prayers went up.
Within 5 minutes a police officer pulled up in the carpool line right behind me, followed by a second and a third patrol car. Within ten minutes, four officers had apprehended and handcuffed a man, put him in the third patrol car and drove him away. The first and second patrol cars however, remained onsite, right behind me, in the carpool line… for the next hour. The first patrol car pulled away from the line directly behind the tow truck as it pulled into the line – quite literally, he followed the tow truck through the line and passed him by as the truck pulled over to help me.
This is amazing grace.
But let’s be real about this. This is clearly amazing grace by the way I told the story. How many of us, when we see a police officer roll up behind us, say to ourselves, “Praise God. Help is here!” Possibly my first reaction to the scene was not to see God’s grace at all? But to say, “Oh crap,”? To start plotting what I would say to the officer when s/he knocked on my window? To start explaining why I was loitering on a school ground? I actually almost completely missed the grace. Once I had the relief that the officer was not there for me, I put the whole thing behind me. But then it struck me; this WAS God’s answer to my prayer.
Are there places in your life where you have missed God’s answer to your prayer?
I invite you today to take stock of your prayers and the recent events of your life. See if you can map them together; see if you can identify something that felt like a problem, annoyance, frustration, as actually an answer to a prayer. I’m learning more and more how to let go of my vision of what answered prayer looks like and see the ways that Jesus is actually answering them. I hope you will find yourself shocked, as I was, that the answer is right in front of you.