Having the unexpected luxury of free time in the middle of the day I decided to go food shopping in the shuk. The shuk is the Jerusalem market where one can find an infinite variety of fresh fruits and vegetables and quite a colorful variety of humans as well. I very much enjoy shopping there, experiencing all of the sights and smells. I didn’t have my shopping cart with me so I put everything into my backpack. When I got to my car I just dumped it all into the trunk. I closed the trunk, opened the door, got into the driver’s seat and…Where were the car keys? Oh, no…I put them down in the trunk. Let me explain that when the car was new we used to be able to adjust the lock to be able to open the trunk either with or without a key and we always left it unlocked, so I got used to that. Then something happened recently that for some reason it became impossible to leave it on “unlock.” It only opened with the key.
And here I was with the trunk locked and no key because the key was locked inside the trunk. What was I going to do?? Get a locksmith to break the lock? Call the garage? I can’t believe I did this!!
After my initial panic and ranting about this I surveyed the parking lot for someone who looked like the sort who might be willing to help me. Before long a macho-looking guy came by who in my estimation seemed intelligent enough and probably willing and eager to help a damsel-in-distress. I explained the situation to him. “Can you help me?” I asked. “Sure” he said. “Do your back seats move forward?” “Yes, they do” I told him. Then he said, “Here, hold my sunglasses a minute. I’ll get the keys for you.” He moved the back seat forward, reached in and got the keys.
I felt pretty stupid for not thinking of this myself but boy was I grateful!
We’ve become accustomed to one of two illusory perspectives on life. Either we think the results are in our control and we’re fueled only by our own power or we think God is taking care of things and we don’t have to do anything.
I’m reminded of the story about a man who lived by a river. He heard a radio report of an impending flash flood. Instructions were given for the whole town to evacuate immediately. Instead of getting out of there like everyone else, he prayed to God saying “I’m a religious man. God will save me.” As the waters began to rise he looked around for a tree to cling to. A motor boat came along and the man in the boat said, “Quick, get in my boat and I’ll save you.” The man refused, saying “God loves me and God will save me.” As the waters continued to rise he climbed up to the roof of his house. While sitting on his roof a helicopter hovered overhead and the pilot called out, “Hurry! What are you doing here? I’ll drop a rope down for you to climb up.” “No thanks.” said the man. “God is going to save me.” The house was swept away in the floodwaters and the man drowned. When he got to heaven he said to God “God, why didn’t you save me?” God said “What are you doing here?! I sent you a radio report, a motor boat and a helicopter. I tried to save you but you didn’t listen.”
There is something more profound in this flood story (and in my story) than just the message that God helps those who help themselves. God’s help comes in mysterious ways. What is mysterious about the help in this and in anyone’s story?
The physical world is permeated with spirituality because God is intimately connected to the world He created.
Therefore spiritual processes of love or compassion come through material channels. Help is there if you open your eyes. God doesn’t send down car keys from heaven. But He does send a macho guy, so you’ll ask and then get the help you need.