I went out of the house night before last for the first time in two days. Happy to report that I wasn’t sick. Instead, I was still in recovery mode from my four hour drive home (that usually takes 25 minutes) due to inclement weather. It was straight gridlock all over the city, and when I turned into my driveway utterly exhausted from the ordeal, I went inside our home and vowed to remain inside in an attempt to recover what was drained from my veins. During my long drive (or standstill) home, I witnessed cars spinning out of control, accidents and a beautiful display of human kindness. But my mind would not let me forget what I witnessed in my own car. I started my journey home on a little less than half of a tank of gas. Would I have appreciated having more? Most certainly; however, I did not have the resources, and on a normal day (which is what I was expecting), the gas I had in my tank was more than capable of getting me home. Yet, when the snowflakes began dropping in heavy rotation, I felt as though I was forced to just do the best I could, with what I had, to get home.
During my four hour drive, a miracle occurred in my car. I watched the needle to my gas tank decrease to “e” with the light in full brilliance, only to witness the dial increase to where it was when I began my journey. This happened hour after hour. It was cold outside, and I learned to run my radio, heat and defroster sparingly. Each time I watched the needle decrease, I would pray and watch the needle move in the opposite direction to my benefit. I laughed, I cried, I praised and I prayed, thanking God for his attentiveness to my situation and for increasing my capacity.
Many lessons were learned along my journey home. God increased the capacity of the gas in my car to stretch and sustain what was there to get me home. But beyond that, he increased my capacity to believe the impossible. There is no scientific explanation suitable for what I witnessed – but there is God, who requires no explanation for existence and ability to do exceedingly, abundantly, above all, I can ask or think. Yet, there remained an even greater lesson wrapped in Mother Nature’s fury, increasing my capacity to love.
Being stuck in traffic with many people who assume that their destination is more important has the potential to humble you or bring out your ugly. My mother says, “One monkey don’t’ stop no show, and it takes a good one to slow it down.” Let’s just say that there were a lot of monkeys on display during my journey home. People were definitely in survival mode, and the characteristics that accompany such do not resonate with positive community engagement. Now, I don’t mean to discard the good samaritans who I witnessed (and experienced) along my drive, but clearly there were many more monkeys (than good samaritans) with agendas by which the safety of others was not an item to be enacted. Regardless, God’s Word compels us that we are to love our enemies and pray for those that persecute you (Matthew 5:44). We are to further owe no one anything except to love each other (Romans 13:8). Oh and my favorite, keep loving another earnestly, as love covers a multitude of sin (1 Peter4:18). The Lord allowed me get home; safe, unharmed and in the car. I didn’t have to abandon my vehicle, as many others did once I began watching the news recapping our state of emergency. I thought God’s reminders of love were for those who I concluded “knew no better” while driving, and instead were displays of ignorance and most assuredly, fear for experiencing something unknown or typical for our region. I had no idea that my real capacity to love would be challenged yet again within a few days.
In contemporary times, people refer to others who do not support them, or have ill will against them as haters. That’s a colloquium more associated with my children’s generation, so I will instead refer to them what the First Lady of my church growing up in Chicago, Sister Sweetie Mae Johnson referred to as, “Satan’s imps.” I’ve had one assigned to me personally more than a decade. Every so often it rears its ugly head with monkey business. Over time, as the Lord has allowed me to mature, I’ve handled my response in a Godly manner. Yet this time, I felt like the weather situation. It caught me off guard. And although I thought my spiritual tank was full, I realized my capacity was low. Immediately, my warning light illuminated. I was in danger of spinning out of control. I suddenly forgot that other people could be harmed, (my husband, my children, my mom, my other family, friends, etc.) because my only concern was my own survival. I’m grateful that God did not abandon me like a car that ran out of what was needed to go on. The Holy Spirit began to remind me of love. And in the battlefield of love, one must increase their capacity – despite the opposition.
I didn’t flatline. I don’t put up post-its around my home for resuscitation. Instead, I had to move the needle myself. I entered into worship. I played my music, those songs that center me and remind me of the fact that I am an imperfect person serving a perfect Savior. I repented. I got in my Word. I played my recorded sermons. I danced. I reminded myself of who I am, and more importantly, whose I am. I answered the call to love. And, once again, I asked God to increase my capacity to do so. I am reminded that the only way one’s capacity is increased is through the testing.
The Department of Transportation did not know how strong their systems of response were until the storm hit. Employers that previously did not have an emergency plan in place will most certainly commission a committee to create a manual of procedures. Family emergency funds will emerge as a result of the inclement weather to support the collection of food, flashlights, gas money, etc. for the next time. And, me and my sis, Kay have determined the precise items needed for one’s survival in a vehicle situation such as the one we both experienced on Alexander Drive.
You see, testing brings about preparation. So, I have to ask myself, what can I do daily to increase my capacity to love? And just like a good plan, its nothing without action. So, be on the lookout for expressions of my love. I hope you will join me or better yet, show me! As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., said, “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”