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Gratefulness and Sharing the Blame

September 14, 2005

Yesterday I was working on a bathroom remodel. Doing my cleanup, I discovered that the shop vac was quite full, and so endeavored to remedy the situation. Since all of the trash is going straight out the window and there were no cans or bags, I broke down the vacuum and started to do the tap-tap-tap move out the window to knock the filter clean. About 43 seconds after I thought, ‘I sure hope I don’t drop this filter into the trash heap below,’ I heard a thud and realized that the 5-inch plastic disc was, in fact, not attached to the filter.

Without too much emotion, I made my way down the stairs, out the back door, and up on top of the trash heap. My initial hope that the critical piece would be laying right on top of the three-foot pile began to fade after a few minutes, and I started gingerly pulling the pile apart, setting pieces of nail-infested trim off to the side as I balanced on top. I emptied a cardboard box and moved it off to the side. Still, I kept standing up tall, informed by many similar experiences that the thing had to be right around here somewhere. Surely, I wouldn’t need to reorganize this whole dissonant pile of wood and plaster and tile and dust. I tip-toed my way to the very end of the pile, and peeked into a dark corner, and saw a familiar plastic disc.

“Thank you.” Those are the two words which I heard come out of my mouth.

I don’t know that I had prayed for God’s help in finding the thing. While I’m not too proud to do so, I try not to invoke him for every little concern (particularly those which are the result of my own knuckle-headedness), as it seems a tad selfish. But at the same time, I guess I unconsciously thank him for things which turn out well: perfect parking places, good cups of coffee, quick commutes, having the printer work when I’m desperately trying to get out the door.

I suppose that if I were consistent, I’d blame him for the things that don’t turn out as well, but that doesn’t seem fair, either. I mean, is it really God’s fault? And besides, doesn’t he have much larger concerns to deal with? Infinite intelligence and power aside, I’d hate to have him parallel process an oppressed family in Sudan with my dead battery, or my inability to remember how to take apart a shop vac (which I’ve done many, many times before).

I know that he numbers the hairs on my head, and that he is even more concerned about me than he is about a sparrow. Maybe I’m being bull-headed and overly independent with my division of labor. And I’m probably being unfair in my thankfulness vs. blame balance sheet. But I’d rather not be so bold to pray about my parking place in a city where kids are starving.

Am I selfish, or selfless? Am I faithless, or faithful?

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3 Responses to “Gratefulness and Sharing the Blame”

  1. kate says:

    I dunno, Mike. If you come up with the answer to this one, let me know. I have waaaaay more questions about prayer than I do answers.
    I do think God cares about that stuff. At least, when you lose something in the trash. The parking spot? *shrug* But why should it be different? And, so many times when He seemingly doesn’t answer those prayers, I find that I had something to learn — about patience, or priorities, or something — in the result.
    So, my comment is fairly pointless. Just wanted to say, I hear ya.

  2. sonja says:

    I think it’s the attitude of gratitude (if you’ll pardon the awfulness of that alliteration) that is the heart of it. It’s not that God is actually responsible for the parking space, or the vacuum filter, but it’s that we are able to give thanks for all of our circumstances AND in all of our circumstances that’s at the core of it all. If that makes any sense at all??

  3. kate says:

    That does make sense. Very wise.

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