Sunday, January 30, 2011

A Week's Descent

When it rains, it pours.

I have never been of the mind that those who would follow after the way of Christ would never fall, but I would (subconsciously, at least), expect things to land better.

Let me outline my past week...

1. Tuesday. 9:00pm. At stop lights, my truck starts acting strangely. It lugs down to about 500rpm and the cab shakes like you are sitting in a diesel truck. The check engine light is on and flashing intermittently. I take it into the shop on Wednesday morning.

2. Wednesday. 8:00am. There is no hot water to our building. Landlord calls later to let us know that there has been a gas leak and there will be no hot water for at least 2 days.

3. Wednesday. 11:00am. Shop runs a diagnostic on the truck which reveals one of the cylinders in misfiring. Inspection of the spark plugs reveal that they are corroded and need to be replaced. There is a rubber boot that hold them on the engine and this has begun melting. Estimate: $200, 5 hours.

4. Wednesday. 5:00pm. After completing the spark plug replacement, the cylinder is only working at around 10% compression. Further inspection reveals that there is a bent valve in one of my cylinders (effectively giving me a 7-cylinder engine) that would have eventually caused enough friction for the piston to fuse into the cylinder. New estimate: $2000, 1 week.

5. Wednesday. 6:30pm. Decide not to go to class in Pasadena.

At this point, Alyssa and Lisa came over for dinner with Dayann, as she has made plans to spend the evening with some girls while I was going to be in class.

During our prayers before dinner, I asked for the perspective to see this obstacles as opportunities for the grace of God to become more integral to my understanding of the world and myself.

6. Thursday. Still no hot water.

7. Thursday. 9:00am. Further inspection at the garage reveals that I will need to have my engine removed and the cylinder re-bore. Apparently, there is a manufacturing issue with this generation of Ford engine that leads to issues like this. Estimate: $3200, 2 weeks.

8. Friday. 8:00am. I go into my office at work (as I do every morning) and find that I cannot open basic programs, such as Word, Excel, Firefox. I turn off the computer and reboot, but there is no life beyond the initial, blue, Intel screen. I call our tech guys who come in and after running a check on my hard drive find that it is no longer spinning. My hard drive acts as the server for all of our office documents.

9. Friday. 10:00am. I receive a phone call from the credit union informing me that my loan request had been denied due to too many loan obligations. After inquiry, I discover that they had processed my request as an unsecured loan, even though I had explicitly specified that we would use our vehicles as collateral. I must begin the process over again, communicating via voice mail with the processor. As of Friday at 5:30pm, I was told that I would be emailed confirmation of my new loan application. I have not received any email. Dayann is leaving for Atlanta on Tuesday for a week to work on a project for national taxonomy committee and won't be around to sign any papers.

10. Sunday. 6:00pm. Upon disembarking from the home to attend a lecture by an author highly respected in our community (Shane Claiborne), I discover that the back tire of my scooter is completely flat. I am now stranded at home, as Dayann is at church for the next hour. The only way to get my scooter to the shop to fix the tire is to use the truck.

I have so much to be grateful for. A full-time job, health, a wonderful wife, supportive family, academic success, and a caring, faithful community. These are the dispensations of grace that I experience as we go through difficulty. I prayed on Wednesday for this opportunity to grow deeper into the dependence upon God's grace and that is what I am able to do.

I do not believe that God sends these things to happen, but that life simply happens around us (both good and bad) and we are left to choose whether to respond in a way that uncovers the grace of God in our life or that obscures it deeper. In comparison to so much of the world-- Egypt and Southern Sudan come first to mind-- my problems are minuscule.

(I take up the keyboard again, 3 days later)

I am grateful to have people in my life who I can lean on and share what is happening. Yes, I can spew on a blog and receive some catharsis, but I have people who I can go deeper with and talk about how this is really affecting me. I am especially grateful for those people.

Today, I had a friend from Life Group stop by the house after work to see me (Granted, I was in Pasadena at the time, but it is the thought that counts!) and a friend from back home text me randomly to encourage me. I was also forced (due to the geographic distance to Pasadena) to carpool with the TA for my anthropology class tonight and now I know that difference between Symbolic Anthropology and Cognitive Anthropology and I will be able to pass the class! My head is also spinning with new directions to move with my thesis proposal.

Also, on a more pragmatic note, I have been shown the people in our life who love us and want to show us that tangibly by lending us money. I know that they don't have it coming out of their ears, but what they do have they give.

This situation is far from over, but I have to be grace-full with the faithfulness that we have seen. And in the words of Brother Joel: "I am going to be an overcomer!"

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