When They Prayed
FROM THE BISHOP DAVID GRAVES   I chose the theme of our 2023 Annual Conference session, “When They Prayed,” based on Acts 4:31: “And when they had prayed, the place in which they ...
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But Grace said

June 22, 2019

Before leaving for a lengthy trip I went to a crowded gas station. All pumps were filled, so I pulled my car to be second in line. Our two cars were facing head to head because my fuel tank was on the opposite side from hers. No problem. I’ll just wait a bit.

A bit turned into several minutes, and I watched as the young woman continued looking down at her lap. She never looked up.

“She’s probably waiting for the one in her passenger seat to return from paying.”

“Or maybe she’s counting her change and will get out and pay soon.”

Neither. She continued looking down, and now I had waited a good five minutes. I decided to get out and go knock on her window.

“Hi. I’m wondering if you are finished getting gas and if you could pull out so I could pull in.”  A smile adorned my face.

She looked up, mirroring my smiling face with her unhappy face. Uh oh.

“I will move as soon as I finish texting,” she said flippantly. “Besides, there are plenty of other gas pumps. Go to one of those.”

I believe she inherited her disgusted look from Adam when he looked at Eve and said, “See what you’ve done! See the price we now have to pay because you took that one piece of fruit?”

The fact that I needed gas seemed somehow my fault!

The other pumps were still full. I walked back to my car, and I have to be honest. I was not thinking sweet cookies, yummy ice cream, and peppermint candy thoughts about her. I was thinking frogs, snakes, alligators, bears, lions, and wolf thoughts. And, it would have been just fine with me if any of those animals had shown up just then. In her car.

Questions popped in my mind. Should I ask the store clerk to tell her to move? Should I start honking my horn? Should I…

At that time, Grace began to stir inside. Oh no! I really wanted to handle this one without Grace. Can’t I? I don’t feel like Grace right now.

But Grace said, “Pray for her. Think of what she may be going through personally. Understand that her life might be difficult, and maybe she is barely holding on to the little confidence she has left. Perhaps she just had a fight with her husband. Maybe finances are low. Bottom line … she is too overwhelmed with life right now to be nice. Too burdened to be thoughtful.”

I wanted to disagree. “I’ve had a few hurtful things happen myself, Grace. You never saw me acting like that, have you?”

“As a matter of fact, I have.”

I never realized Humble Pie had such a salty taste.

Grace said, “I’ve seen you be pretty selfish, B.J., especially when things didn’t turn out like you wanted. I’ve seen your ego swell when what I wanted to swell was Me in your life. I’ve actually heard your heart thinking thoughts similar to what this young woman is thinking.”

Once again, Grace won. I started praying for my twin in the car ahead of me.

Grace, grace, marvelous grace. Thank you for once again coming through to teach me a lesson.

Eventually, she pulled out, never acknowledging me. But, if Grace is right … and she always is … she had too much on her heart to be nice.

I should know. Twins usually think just alike.

The Rev. B.J. Funk is associate pastor of Central UMC in Fitzgerald. Email Rev. Funk at bjfunk@bellsouth.net.

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