I’ll be Grateful.

People break down into two groups. When they experience something lucky, group number one sees it as more than luck, more than coincidence. They see it as a sign, evidence, that there is someone up there, watching out for them. Group number two sees it as just pure luck. Just a happy turn of chance. I’m sure the people in group number two are looking at those fourteen lights in a very suspicious way. For them, the situation is a fifty-fifty. Could be bad, could be good. But deep down, they feel that whatever happens, they’re on their own. And that fills them with fear. Yeah, there are those people. But there’s a whole lot of people in group number one. When they see those fourteen lights, they’re looking at a miracle. And deep down, they feel that whatever’s going to happen, there will be someone there to help them. And that fills them with hope. See what you have to ask yourself is what kind of person are you? Are you the kind that sees signs, that sees miracles? Or do you believe that people just get lucky? – Graham Hess (Signs)

My wife likes the band Casting Crowns, a lot. We found out they would be in Tallahassee back in the fall and like a child anticipating Christmas, Jeni began marking the days. I wanted to take her, but money’s short, so about a month before the concert I began to specifically and privately ask God for tickets.

Every time one of their songs came on the radio I asked God to encourage Jeni with those tickets. The closer the show date came, the more I doubted, both my prayers and my motives. Did God really hear me? Did he care about silly tickets when people were starving? Was I only “praying about it” because it was for Jeni where I would just buy them if it was for me?

A few days before the show, Jeni reemphasized her desire to go. I told her of my spiritual and marital dilemma, and she felt we shouldn’t press the matter. I felt even more guilty. Last Saturday (concert day) rolls around and still no tickets. Finally, at about 4:00, I crack. I rounded up a pair of babysitters and told Jeni we were going. My justification was a $50 Visa gift card I’d received at Christmas – technically, the money wouldn’t come out of our budget.

Ticketmaster wouldn’t let me buy tickets so close to showtime, so we had to stop at Wal*Mart. We were on our way at about 5:20, arrived about fifteen minutes later, and after a ten minute deliberation settled on the cheap seats, because they only cost $53. We left Wal*Mart at about 5:55 and headed to dinner. Not five minutes later, as we pulled into the restaurant the theme song from Jurassic Park began playing from my cell phone.

My friend, Jake, was on the line and told me he was just given four free tickets and hoped Jeni and I would go with them. I believe my exact reply was, “You’ve got to be kidding.” I told him our situation, he told me they would keep looking for someone to go, and Jeni and I sat down to dinner, seasoned with second guessing. Why didn’t I trust God? Why am I such a spiritual buffoon? When will I learn?

We arrived at the civic center and Jake still hadn’t found any takers, so we sold ours – a mother and daughter bought them for $40. I did some spiritual and economic gymnastics to show Jeni how we actually came out ahead, make way for Ryan Lou Retton. We spent $53, but $50 was on the gift card so it doesn’t hurt our budget. We spent another $20 on dinner, plus the $3 from the tickets for a total of $23. We just sold the tickets for $40, resulting in a $17 cash flow increase. Yahoo! (I’m thinking about running for congress)

The show was  fun, and Jeni rated the whole night a “10.” But the reason I shared is to see if there’s any spiritual truth to learn. I’ve concluded there’s no formula for prayer to be derived. I’ve also concluded there’s no benefit in second guessing myself. So, was there no spiritual merit at all? Then it hit me, just be grateful.

But now the question was, and is, to whom should I be grateful? I was glad Jake thought of us, glad that family gave him the tickets,  glad our baby sitters came at the last-minute, glad that mom and daughter bought our tickets, etc. I was grateful to each of them, but I think God deserves thanks too.

This is why I opened with the quote from Signs. Some might thank “their lucky stars” after experiencing something like this, but I believe God exists and He loves us. The Luck Stars Crowd say my faith is silly, a crutch, or illogical, and that’s there prerogative. And maybe I am wrong, and maybe it was simply a cosmic coincidence, but I believe it was God reminding us that He cares. I won’t thank lucky stars, because there’s a loving Father to thank who provided a blessing, and a lesson.

If you’re interested, this is a new song Casting Crowns played at the show, I think it’s a beautiful story. Just Another Birthday

One comment

  1. I can relate to your struggles. I remember one day I was just hanging by an emotional thread and I cried out to God like a little girl, “I just need a little kindness today!” I sighed and sat down and read a little devotional and the one liner thought at the end was about God’s kindness. Hope flickered for a moment, but was nearly snuffed out by all my “rational” thoughts: “Oh yeah, God put it on Ken Boa’s mind, about a month ago, to write this down, just so I could sit down today and read the answer. Sure.” But the flicker kept waving and I realized that I could choose to believe or not. That was a turning point for me in seeing God in ways I had never seen Him before. I, too, am grateful.

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