Friday, April 4, 2008

Entry: An Ordinary Morning

An Ordinary Morning
By Debbie Roome

It was an ordinary morning. I’d risen at dawn and our garden and swimming pool were wreathed in ribbons of mist. Somewhere down the road, a rooster was crowing and the sounds of traffic hummed on the nearby highway. I was living in South Africa at the time and owned a toy shop in a mall close to home. Through persistence and perseverance I had forged links with the management of a large chain of toy/baby shops in South Africa - including the Toys-R-Us brand - and on this day I had an appointment with their CEO. Their offices were in the industrial area of Durban – about an hour from where I lived - and I travelled down there every couple of weeks. It was an arrangement that suited us both as I would purchase their samples, shop soiled goods and end of lines that they were clearing out.

I needed to leave home by 8am to make my 9 O’clock appointment and to begin with, all went well. I organized lunches for my five children and got them off to school; I fed the dogs and cats and took out some meat to defrost for dinner that night. I was almost ready to leave when the phone rang; a customer asking about a particular toy. Precious minutes ticked past and soon it was nearly 8 O’clock. To my immense annoyance, the phone rang again as soon as I replaced the receiver.

Five minutes later, I was ready to go but the keys to my van had disappeared. My mood deteriorated as I rushed through the house, muttering and complaining as I pulled aside cushions, looked under beds and emptied out my purse. I can’t remember where I found them but know I was angry and frustrated as I finally twisted the key in the ignition. Then I noticed I was almost out of gas. How could I have forgotten to fill up the night before?

It was 8:20 by the time I left town and hurtled down the highway trying to make up the lost minutes. My van was old but we kept it as it was ideal for carrying stock. Unfortunately, it had done a high mileage and had been giving endless problems. My husband, Kevin, prayed every time I took it down to Durban and called often to ensure that all was well. His concern was understandable as the road was dangerous and trucks and cars blatantly disregarded the speed limit. It was also a hotbed of criminal activity - hijackings were common and if your vehicle broke down, you were a sitting target for criminals who would rob you of your mobile phone, cash and cards, jewelry and would often injure you in the process. Neither of us were happy about the situation but at that stage, we had little choice.

I was praying as I hurried down the road, but they weren’t prayers of praise and thankfulness. Instead I was grumbling at God. “Why did you let those people call? Why did you let my keys disappear? Why didn’t you remind me about the gas last night? Don’t you know I can’t afford to be late for this appointment?” Outside, the scenery rushed past in a blur. Much of the mist had dissipated under fiery sun rays and hills rolled to the horizon, yellow and dry. In places, amber flames flickered in the distance and the sweet smell of burnt grass filled the van.

About twenty minutes after I left home, the mist began to thicken again. I was approaching a small town by the name of Cato Ridge which is notorious for fog. I slowed down and as I turned a corner I was immersed in a thick rolling cloud. The cool grey mist was mixed with smoke and visibility was very poor; the sun was reduced to a pale suffusion of light.

I was driving carefully but even so I had to slam on brakes as figures appeared in the mist, waving their arms and gesturing that I should pull over. Before me was the scene of one of the worst multi-vehicle accidents the area had seen in years. Shrouded by mist, about twelve vehicles were sprawled across both sides of the highway. Some were crumpled, some had flipped onto their sides, a truck straddled the centre meridian and people sat on the grass, resting their heads on their arms. Behind me, the faint wail of sirens penetrated the gloom and I realised the pile-up had happened only a short while before.

It was a half hour before the police got the traffic moving again. In that half hour I watched and listened. I saw paramedics drifting like shadows between vehicles and saw people being lifted into ambulances. I heard the police saying it was a miracle that no one had been killed. I watched as the accident scene was photographed and marked out and then I worked out what time I would have passed through that section of road.

If I had left home when I wanted to, I would have been right in the middle of the pile-up. Suddenly those little annoyances were transformed into something completely different. An answer to Kevin’s prayers. The protection of a Loving Heavenly father. The mercy of God to one who didn’t deserve it. It was an awesome revelation and one that changed my perspective by 180 degrees.

I made the rest of the trip with a vastly different attitude; repentance, thankfulness and joy replaced grumpiness, agitation and anger. I felt deeply humbled yet also grateful that God loved me enough to bypass my tantrums. Not only that, I was able to reschedule my appointment for later in the morning and it actually suited them better as the CEO had been delayed in another meeting.

The lessons I learned that day have stayed with me over the years and although I still get flustered and annoyed, I have learned to relax and trust that God is involved in all that I do. Not every frustration is sent to protect me; more often they are sent to teach me patience, trust and tolerance. Being human, I still overreact sometimes but God is faithful and in moments of anger and annoyance, I feel His Spirit tap me on the shoulder. “Remember that day?” He whispers. “Look for me in mundane, the ordinary and the small. I am with you in each step of daily life.”

It was an ordinary morning but ended up as an extraordinary day.

Submitted by
Debbie Roome

1 comment:

Delia Latham said...

What a beautiful affirmation of God's love and care! Too often we forget - in the midst of the trial - that God has a reason, but He always does. Always. More often than not, it is for our protection, whether physical, spiritual, emotional...whatever. And when His purpose is revealed, He is glorified in it.

Thank you!