Fun fact for you all: I pray for parking. People think it’s weird, but I don’t care. Even my friends who pray often laugh at this habit. Whatever, it’s still what I do.
I started in college; circling the upper lot of student parking, almost late to curfew, like some weird version of Cinderella who had to park her carriage and run home before the clock strikes midnight. It was a habit that stuck with me as I moved to Los Angeles. My fellow Angelenos get it. It can sometimes take just as long to park as it did to drive to your destination. And even then, it’s not abnormal to have to pay for parking and then walk several blocks to where you are going. Also, parking at my apartment is no laughing matter. Some mornings, I contemplate taking an uber from my apartment to wherever I was able to find parking the night before. I haven’t stooped to that level yet, but I’m not ruling it out as an option.
So I pray. As I drive to dinner. As I drive to church. As I drive to the grocery store. As I drive home. Sometimes it’s a conversation and I actually talk with God. Sometimes it’s simply a quick “come on, Jesus” as I pull onto my street. But I pray.
And you know what? I often get great parking spots. Some people might think it’s just a coincidence, but I don’t. I see His love at those points of provision. I see Him working in the moments that a car pulls out of it’s parking spot right by the restaurant I’m going to just as I pull up. But what about the times that I don’t? What about the times that I have to park six blocks away? What about the times that I have to spend a ton of money on valet because I’m running late and there were no spots anywhere? Or the times that I do get an awesome parking spot, but come back to a parking ticket? Do I see God’s love in those moments?
It’s so easy for me to believe that God loves me when things are good. When He answers my prayers. When my friends are encouraging me. When I’ve gotten enough sleep and I haven’t messed up yet that day. It’s so easy for me to see God’s presence in that empty parking space that is there waiting for me.
But on the days that I wake up too late to eat breakfast, have to walk too far to my car, and hit all red lights on the way to work. On the days that seem to stretch on forever. On days when I feel like I have nothing left to give. On the day that my doctor calls me and says I might have a mass in my lung. On days when I feel forgotten. Do I see God’s love on those days?
Not always. But if I don’t see it or feel it, does that mean it’s not there? Fortunately for everyone, this is not one of those hypothetical “tree falls in the forest” situations. We are talking about an ever-present God. Psalm 139 says that there is nowhere we can escape Him. I encourage you to read the whole chapter, but I especially love verses 11-12.
Psalm 139:11-12 (HCSB)
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me,
and the light around me will be night”
even the darkness is not dark to You.
The night shines like the day;
darkness and light are alike to You.
Habakkuk 3:17-19 (MSG)
Though the cherry trees don’t blossom
and the strawberries don’t ripen,
Though the apples are worm-eaten
and the wheat fields stunted,
Though the sheep pens are sheepless
and the cattle barns empty,
I’m singing joyful praise to God.
I’m turning cartwheels of joy to my Savior God.
Counting on God’s Rule to prevail,
I take heart and gain strength.
I run like a deer.
I feel like I’m king of the mountain!
Psalm 22:1-5 (MEV)
My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?
Why are You so far from delivering me,
and from my roaring words of distress?
O my God, I cry in the daytime, but You do not answer;
and at night, but I have no rest.
But You are holy, O You who inhabits the praises of Israel.
Our fathers trusted in You; they trusted, and You did deliver them.
They cried to You and were delivered;
they trusted in You and were not put to shame.
And on the days when everything goes wrong, the days that I do actually have to take an uber to where I parked my car the night before, on the days where my emotions are taking me over: I will praise the Lord.