by Shaina Bolin
Saturday was the first beautiful, warm day we’ve had around here for a while. I had just had lunch with some friends across town and had picked up the kids from the sitter’s. I merged onto 40E and immediately knew something was wrong with my car. It was rattling and wouldn’t rev up; I just couldn’t get it to go. It just got worse the further I went, until the whole thing just locked up and died. I pulled off the interstate and tried to stop my car, but the brakes didn’t work. So I put on the emergency brake and turned the car off.
The kids were worried, scared, and had both started crying. Traffic whizzed by us at break neck speeds and I frantically called 911, and then was transferred to a towing company, with whom I lost connection. Bad time for my smart phone to lose usually reliable coverage. I cried hard for a few minutes and then started saying over and over, “Everything is going to be ok. Everything is going to be ok.” I had the kids say it with me and it became a mantra that they continued while I made phone calls and prayed and waited for help to arrive. It was a scary situation; one that I always fear will happen to me and then hope never does. But it did.
The Message version of Revelation 1.8 says, “The Master declares, ‘I’m A to Z. I’m the God who is, the God who was, and the God about to arrive. I’m the Sovereign-Strong.’”
This is a God who is always about to come on the scene; his presence alone usually changes something, whether it’s emotional circumstances or literal ones. He’s always making his grand entrance at the party, into whatever is happening. And whatever is going down at the time, he’s not surprised by it. Also, his hands aren’t empty; he’s usually bringing something that’s needed. At least that’s what I gather: God is always at the ready.
So, what does this mean when my car breaks down and I’m stranded on a busy interstate with both of my kids? In the worst of circumstances, it’s so easy for me to forget that my circumstances change, sometimes from minute to minute, but God does not. Circumstances matter, don’t get me wrong; life is hard and can be really shitty most of the time. But it’s not the final say.
I feel like I go through a progression when my circumstances take an unexpected turn for the worst. It goes a lot like Naomi’s progression in the book of Ruth:
“Don’t call me Naomi; call me Bitter. The Strong One has dealt me a bitter blow. I left here full of life, and God has brought me back with nothing but the clothes on my back. Why would you call me Naomi? God certainly doesn’t. The Strong One ruined me.”
Then later, “Why, God hasn’t quite walked out on us after all! He still loves us, in bad times as well as good!”
At the end of what we know about Naomi’s story, she has helped Ruth get married and has a new baby grandson upon whom she dotes, and I picture her like any grandmother with her grandson—proud, happy, in semi-disbelief at the love she feels and how blessed she is. Her circumstances changed for the better in that situation, and although we don’t know how the rest of her life played out, I’d imagine that she experienced setbacks, probably loneliness, and definitely more circumstance changes. Hopefully, she was able to enter different circumstances with the experience of how God came through for her before; and that’s where I feel like I am right now.
I’m experiencing a shitty circumstance, but God has come through for me before. And I feel pretty strongly that he will this time too.
There’s this poem from Rumi that I love so much:
In your light I learn how to love.
In your beauty, how to make poems.
You dance inside my chest, where no one sees you.
This reminds me of the work unseen…the work God is doing all the time, that half the time I don’t even know about because I’m so wrapped up in circumstances or I just can’t grasp a bigger picture. I have to believe God is moving at all times, working at all times, or else I might just stop and wallow in my own brand of craziness. I believe this right now: that he’s working his mysterious magic where no one sees and that his provision is always arriving. This gives me hope that the current circumstance doesn’t get the final say. This is something I feel like I have to fight for when things happen unexpectedly and feel so out of control.
And I’m not stranded on the side of the road right now. Instead of crying my eyes out because I hate the circumstance of a car breakdown, I’m finding myself humbled and moved to tears by the grace I’ve received, by people who stopped just to check, by the seemingly random way God saved me and the kids on Saturday, and by the experiences I’ve already lived through that confirm that, “all shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.”
I don’t know how I’ll pay for my car to get fixed. I don’t know if it’s fixable. I don’t know how I’ll get to school this week or get my kids to school. All I really know is that God is the God about to arrive. He’s always arriving, whether it’s with miraculous money explosions, people who love me and are willing to help, creative solutions to seemingly impossible problems, or simply by just being near to me. Knowing this and believing this means that I believe I’ll be taken care of and that enables me to enjoy what’s right in front of me—the sunshine, the warmth, a walk to the downtown library—regardless of what else is happening.
|Shaina Bolin is an art student at UT and is a single mother to two children. Shaina is learning what it means to hunt for God amidst writing papers, attending classes, checking elementary school homework, and changing diapers.|