The cold, damp day grew colder and wetter as the rain fell steadily when I went to make hospital visits. When it comes to church, cold and wet days often have a direct correlation on the number of people who show up. More rain and cold tends to equal more parking places. That wasn’t the case at the hospital that day, however. I pulled into the parking deck looking for a place to park hoping I wouldn’t have to park outside so I could stay moderately dry. I had only been in the deck a matter of seconds before I knew parking places would be scarce. At another entrance to the deck, I noticed a car drive out toward the outside parking while another car drove in ahead of me to look for a place. As I scoured the rows of parking places on each level, following a few cars doing the same, I quickly surmised that I may need to weather the weather and walk in the cold rain. So after one round through the parking deck, I skirted out to the outside spaces.
Full too. Row after row. Lane after lane. I had never been to the hospital where there wasn’t at least a place or two outside, but that was the case that day. After two passes through the outside lots, I said to myself, “Well, I guess I could pass back through the deck one more time and see.” About that time, a thought hit me. I should pray for a place to park. My wife makes a habit of praying for parking places. A couple times a month, she will tell me of her prayer parking adventures when God answers her need for a place to park for her and my son to get in at the grocery store or some other place. Me? Well, I’m often a stubborn man. I don’t need to park that close. I don’t have a halfling tagging along who needs to stick close by on the walk in to the store. Did I mention that I’m a man? You know, that kind of person who doesn’t like to “need” or “‘rely on” someone else to solve my problems. It’s often just this type of attitude that hinders me from praying for parking places and such. But I was getting desperate. I had been driving around and around and around eating into an already busy day. So I decided to pray about it.
Quite instantly, as I offered a prayer for a parking place, a lady climbed into her car right in front of me in the parking deck on my pass back through it. The timing was nearly seamless. In the exact moment I finished asking God to provide a parking place, she got into her car and turned her back up lights on. With as much speed as that prayer reached heaven and received an immediate answer, the Spirit of God whispered to my heart, “I care about parking places too.” Then the convicting edge of that truth pierced a good bit more deeply. God wants us to need him for parking places.
You see, we often know we need him for the big stuff. We are anxiously praying about the biopsy appointment to determine whether or not we have cancer. We lay sleepless at all hours of the night pleading with God to bring back our prodigal, or restore our brother’s marriage, or save our drunken dad. We seek God’s protection over our child’s first trip to college. We pray intensely for discernment about a crossroads with our career. As believers, we know these types of challenges require the kind and gracious care of God. But it’s the little things that sometimes booger up our faith more than the big ones. Parking places. Five dollar expenses. Homework assignments. Neighborhood conversations. Radio selections. Dessert choices. When we assume many of these small decisions are in our realm of control not requiring our inquiry of God, we tend to take the middle-level issues we face and keep them under our control too. Cable or satellite? Or neither? Do we increase our giving to our church this year? Two week family vacation? One week mission trip? New car or used one?
Do you realize that God cares about each one of these choices you and I face? The big ones, the small ones, and the in between ones. He wants us to bring everything to him.
6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
When the Bible says “in everything” it really means exactly that. God wants us to pray about everything. Does that mean God will always give you a parking place right when you pray for it? Nope. Will he write in the sky the brand of dog food you should buy? Probably not. But he urges, even commands, us to bring all of our concerns to him in prayer so that by our doing so, we may realize deeply and regularly that God cares about our needs and concerns more than we do. And in the process of pulling us to our knees about everything, he’s growing our faith and confidence in his wisdom, provision, and guidance each step of the way.
I had the chance to share this story with my church last Sunday. This week, a deacon told me he was looking for a parking spot and decided to pray because he remembered what I had said. Within 5 seconds God provided one. Why? Because he cares about parking places, and everything else too! I plan to keep praying for parking places. What about you?