the parking lot

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The parking lot was jammed, wall to wall cars. It took me five minutes just to back out of my space. I was finally shown mercy by the 30th car that finally stopped to let me back out of our spot.

Once we were out of the space, it was slow going. The main exit way in the parking  lot was packed and not too many souls were willing to give up a position in line to let any other car in front of them.

When we finally got onto the main exit way of the parking lot I could see the fury in the faces of the drivers behind me as I let cars into the lane in front of me. Just another typical day in that parking lot…

I dread that parking lot sometimes… Unfortunately, I have to deal with it twice some days. As I was picking my daughter up later in the day, I showed up a few minutes early, hoping to avoid the rush of traffic in that horribly mannered parking lot.

God smiled on me that day and gave me an open parking place close to the exit. As I was waiting for my daughter to come out I spotted him. He must have made an early exit or ducked out a side door and moved like a rabbit to beat the crowd trying to get out of the parking lot.

Who could blame him? After all, it’s a parking lot like any other in a crowded city. It’s a dog eat dog, look out for number one, it’s us or them mentality. Maybe his wife was sick? Maybe he was trying to get home to watch a football game? He probably got there early and needed some lunch? Who knows?

God knows…

God knows the heart of all of us, including that associate pastor I spotted in the church parking lot, where some of the rudest, mean, and inconsiderate drivers navigate their vehicles on Sundays. The pastor might just want to get out so he doesn’t have to see the behavior of his people.

As I sat waiting for my daughter to finish up the youth service she was in, I watched the typical traffic in that lot and dreaded my turn to try and back out into an unyielding line of cars.

A man who looked to be in his early to mid-thirties pushed the small wheelchair, where his mentally and physically handicapped daughter sat comfortably. The man looked different than the majority of people in that parking lot.

He had a gentle smile on his face, was walking at a comfortable pace, and was very tender with his daughter who looked to be around 6 or 7 years of age. He stopped his daughter’s wheelchair, opened the car door carefully, examining the space to make sure the car door didn’t cause any neighborly door damage to our two cars.

He then gently lifted his daughter who couldn’t help him at all, and sat her softly into the backseat of their car and buckled her in. Then the man left the car door half open due to the heat while he folded the wheelchair and fit it awkwardly into the small trunk space.

The man finally closed the door beside his daughter who was almost next to me as I waited. As the man walked back around his car, with a sweat beginning to show, he still looked pleasant as he slid in and started his car.

Right then my daughter, whom I hadn’t noticed approaching from behind, opened our car door and got in. The little girl on the other side of me, not much farther away, would never have that same luxury…

The man smiled and waited patiently for me to back out first. He showed more compassion in that parking lot than anyone else I’d seen navigate that parking lot, including me.

I had the man and his beautiful brown hair and brown eyed daughter in my thoughts as I waited for the main exit road to pass. I wasn’t too surprised no one would stop to let anyone else merge in as I sat several cars back.

If this is how the majority of my fellow Christians conduct themselves on God’s day immediately after hearing God’s word spoke and taught, what must they act like outside of church on the other days of the week?

Interesting how the man with the heaviest cross to bear managed to show the true heart, love, and actions that should mark all of us. My disapproving attitude and lack of patience piled on top of legalistic actions only make the parking lot an even bigger spiritual mess.

I do believe that you can tell a lot about a person by the way they conduct themselves in traffic. Actions always speak volumes…

It’s people like the man and his daughter I don’t even know and what he showed me with his actions that show the hope of God in all of us…