Dust moments

My mood was as gray as the rainy day. I thought I got up on the right side of the bed, but a series of small frustrations throughout the morning pushed me to the edge of tears more than once. I made my way to an afternoon appointment safely and was looking forward to a stop at Starbucks afterwards. Sadly, there would be no tea and pumpkin bread for me.

Nothing happened when I tried to start my car . . . absolutely nothing. There are so many things we do without really having to think about them – starting a car is one of them. But when no humming of the engine resulted from my mindless procedure, I began to look at each component of the process. Finding nothing wrong with my method and making note the lights were working indicating the problem most likely wasn’t a dead battery, I gave up and called the car dealer. A service advisor talked me through a few more attempts to start it, to no avail. I’d have to have it towed.

As I awaited the arrival of the tow truck, I did my best to stave off a full-blown pity party. I exhorted myself with truth: “It’s a car.” “It can be fixed or replaced.” “This isn’t what you planned, but you’re not in a hospital with a friend who’s undergoing her last-chance chemo treatment”, which is exactly where one of my dear sisters in Christ was at that very moment. [1]

The tenuous calm I’d talked myself into was short-lived. As the tow truck driver loaded my car, he told me he’d already picked up five of the same make and model that day. In describing what was most likely wrong, he went as far as to say, “Get it fixed and sell it.”

My mind was in turmoil. I like my car A LOT, even though it’s almost 8 years old. It’s sleek and fun to drive. I was hoping he might have been embellishing the situation a bit, but some Googling that evening confirmed a defect so prevalent one consumer group has been pressuring the car maker to issue a recall. So far they’d only extended the warranty on the faulty part to six years, which did me no good. Furthermore, the repair was a pricey one.

Still preaching truth to myself – “We’re not supposed to worry. Trust God for the details!”[2] – I went to bed praying I’d sleep through the night in spite of my troubled mind. Alas, I woke up around 3am and try as I might to pray myself back to sleep, I was still awake when my alarm went off at 6:30am. I listlessly made my way through my morning routine, wondering how I’d ever have the energy to care for my three grandchildren all day.

As I was preparing to walk out the door, my phone rang. My service advisor called to let me know my car was ready to go, repaired at no charge to me under a recently-issued recall. As I thanked him and hung up, I dissolved into tears of gratitude . . . and remorse. Once again I was praying, this time asking God to forgive me for worrying and trying to piece together solutions in the wee hours of the morning. And just as quickly, I felt my Father’s embrace and his sweet assurance that he knows I’m dust.

IMG_2930Psalm 103 is one of my favorite chapters in the Bible. Verses 13 and 14 are especially dear to me: “As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers we are dust.”[3] Even though I’ve walked with the Lord for over 40 years, I still have anxious times of hand wringing, speak words I later regret, behave in ways unbecoming a daughter of the King. I’ve come to refer to such episodes as my dust moments.

IMG_2929My devotional reading that night included these insights from James Packer: “There is unspeakable comfort in knowing that God is constantly taking knowledge of me in love, and watching over me for my good. There is tremendous relief in knowing that his love toward me is utterly realistic, based at every point on prior knowledge of the worst about me, so that no discovery now can disillusion him about me in the way I am so often disillusioned about myself, and quench his determination to bless me.”[4]

As two tumultuous days drew to a close, my Father wanted to make sure I got the message: “Don’t be so hard on yourself. I know you are dust and I love you anyway. I always will.”


[1] Please see “Thrashing about, epilogue” (Archives, February 2016) for more thoughts on keeping things in perspective.

[2] Matthew 6:25-34

[3] NIV translation

[4] James Packer, “Your Father Loves You”, March 8th, Harold Shaw Publishers, Wheaton, IL, 1986.

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