God often speaks to other people. To me, not so much. And yet ten years ago I distinctly heard God. Don’t worry, it was not an audible voice like those muttering homeless guys hear. It was ten words that took shape in my mind on the night after my eldest daughter’s wedding. It was a promise from God: “I am going to bless you and increase your house.” I wept for joy. But the days and weeks turned into years, and still no grandchildren were forthcoming. It wasn’t until seven years later that my eldest daughter informed me that Cindy and I were going to be grandparents. Luca was born on September 5th. He is now three years old and the lad has been more of a blessing to me than I can articulate. He has become more precious than career, a comfortable retirement, possessions, you name it. In short he is more precious to me than me myself.
A week ago my youngest daughter informed me that she is pregnant. Then last Friday my eldest daughter told me (via text) that she is also pregnant, again. My cup runneth over. My wife, Cindy, has nearly lost her mind with excitement and utter joy over the soon-to-be additions to our clan.
We are an immediate satisfaction society. But God does not act on our timetable, no matter how often we pray, beseech, plead, or throw a tantrum. I can’t stress that enough: God DOES NOT act on our schedule. We either have faith that he knows when and how it is best to bless his people, or we don’t. Ten years ago I was forty-nine years old. Back then I would not have appreciated grandchildren as much as I do now that I’m knocking on sixty and the things I once thought so important have faded into the background. The place I’m at has freed me to be completely present when I am with my grandson. He gets my undivided attention. So will the grandchildren who are on the way.
If God makes you a promise, he might deliver right away, or you might have to wait for it . . . a long time. With the benefit of hindsight (a skill I employ with expert proficiency), ten years ago I was not ready for grandchildren. In the church, we often hear it preached that God’s timing is perfect. That isn’t just a trite slogan to help us develop the admirable character trait of patience. It is a reality that must work itself into our faith. So why does God reveal what he intends to do and then he makes us wait, sometimes for many years? I don’t know, but I have a theory: he does it so we can see how much he has helped us grow and prepare for receiving his promised blessing. In other words, so he gets more veneration than he would if he’d simply given us the blessing right away. And that’s very appropriate.
My daughters have always made fun of my driving. They say I drive like an old man, slow and careful. I believe there are advantages to driving like an old man. (No, I don’t get a senior discount at Kragen Auto Parts.) One advantage came into focus after my eldest daughter had our first grandchild. Suddenly, both my daughters realized that I am by far the safest driver in the entire family. They became quite vociferous about the aggressive and nerve-wracking driving habits of other adults in the family. In short, if other family members didn’t repent and change their driving habits, grandpa Grady would be the only one allowed to transport the grandchildren by auto. (Without even trying, I have achieved most-favored-grandparent status . . . unfathomable!)
I believe one of the primary sources of bad driving is the spillover of our frenetic society and its selfishness into our driving ecosystem. There is enough anonymity on the highway to allow us to view other drivers as idiots and jerks. In a way, it’s like posting anonymous snarky comments on internet articles. Even though I drive like an old man, I occasionally get irritated at the driving faux pas of others. But when I drive to church and someone I recognize from the congregation cuts me off or tail gates, I bestow grace and let it go. Not so much when I’m out on the open road vying for the best place in traffic among pagans and strangers. (My hypocrisy remains.)
I have often observed drivers, including Christians, cuss out other drivers for traffic blunders then turn around and make the exact same mistake as the person they cussed out a few minutes earlier. Do as I want not as I do, right? Hypocrisy happens with greater frequency when grace is not extended by the person wronged. (Some call it karma . . . but not me.) And by the way, given the abysmal state of driving etiquette in America, it is not a good idea to put Christian bumper stickers and symbols on our cars (unless we drive like Saint Ignatius behind the wheel).
Another explanation for bad driving is the fact that new drivers get training on the mechanics of driving, laws of the road, and basic courtesy. But a deep sense of courtesy can’t be effectively taught in driver’s education courses because it is a character trait a person has been raised with, or not. Driving courtesy is related to the Biblical imperative that we think of others more highly than we think of ourselves . . . even on the road. Still, it’s hard not to judge others harshly and place them below us.
Recently, I read the most intelligent and insightful observation about our flawed methodology when it comes to judging. I wish I could recall the author’s name, but here is the observation: “We judge others based on their actions, we judge ourselves based on our motives.” I’m just sayin.’