Sweetwater Presbyterian

Small in size, Big in Faith and Love

Devotion February 22, 2017


You know those strange little things that happen to you in your life and they affect how you think of things or how you do things for the rest of your life - even though the situation is completely different from the original thing that happened.  I’m not even talking about great traumatic events but just something that happened and you just can’t get past it…..
Case in point:
Many, many years ago when I was an instructor for a college, I did what college instructors did which was carry around my standard professor briefcase that I would bring into class and put on the desk and clip open the clasps and open the brief case, get out the proper text book and some papers and my lecture notes, lay those on the desk, close the brief case by clicking the little clasps, lift the brief case and put it on the floor by the desk.
It was a class by class ritual and pretty standard for college instructors to do…. and I of course wanted to be on the cutting edge of college professor etiquette so I felt this ritual was an imperative part of the classroom experience!
Every day, after my last class I would judicially pack my briefcase to take home.  Papers I needed to grade, books for lessons I need to prepare and whatever other supporting materials I may need including the all important grade book - that book that had the list of all my students and all the grades they accumulated over the course of the term.  I was a quiz and homework aficionado so every student had lots of grades to average together to get the final grade for the course.  My grade book was a very important part of my work!
I like routine and every day I would do the same thing.  Pack the briefcase at home with books and papers and whatever I needed, carry it to my classroom, use it to carry my important stuff as I went to different classrooms during he day, pack it up before I left to come home, and carry it home!
I drove a station wagon then and I would open the back gate of the station wagon and there  I would stow my brief case as I drove from the school to home. There was a Kroger’s on the way from the school to our home so often my ritual would include stopping at Kroger’s to get groceries.  I had three kids then (and a husband and a couple dogs and cats) so there were always groceries we needed! Having the Kroger’s on the way home was a blessing and a curse - it meant that stopping when I really needed something was pretty easy but it also meant that stopping when I really didn’t need something but just wanted it was pretty easy as well…..
On this one day I had stopped at Krogers on the way home and did a good deal of shopping and put all of the bags full of groceries in the back of my station wagon with my briefcase which I had pushed to the back so I could put in all these newly purchased groceries.  Off to home I went.
The house we had then did not have a garage so it was all parking on the street.  I had parked enough to unload groceries that I knew exactly where to park as to optimize the opening the back of the station wagon, going through the back gate, through our yard and into the back door which opened to the kitchen.
Now we lived in a fairly safe neighborhood and a thousand times I had done the same thing…. opened the back of my station wagon and left the back open as I made my several trips through the back gate and through the back yard and into the back door and into the kitchen.  It would have been really difficult to close the back each trip with hands full of groceries….
So on this one day as I was doing what I always did, unloading my groceries with the back of the station wagon open with nary a thought of anything going wrong because I had done this exact thing a thousand times…..
As I came out of the back door of the house on my way back to the open station wagon knowing  that all I had left to bring into my house was one more grocery bag and my brief case, I see a car speeding off down the road and as I reached the station wagon I quickly realized that this speeding off car had grabbed the brief case out of back of my station wagon (for some reason they didn’t take the one grocery bag left which to this day I remember had various bathroom items I needed - shampoo, soap and such and which was probably worth more monetarily than the briefcase!).  
I was beside myself…..How could anyone be so brazen to just pull up beside a car that was obviously being unloaded not knowing when that unloading person my return and take something like a brief case?  What did they think they were going to find?  I am sure they were quite disappointed in what they did get unless they really needed a Microbiology book and lesson plans - maybe perhaps they would grade all the papers for me and bring them back?????  
In God’s great providence, I had just that morning made copies of the grade book because we were required to turn copies in with our mid term grades…. (My students would be very disappointed thinking all their grades were gone!)
Of course this was not that big of a tragedy, everything in that briefcase and the briefcase itself was easily replaceable, but it was very traumatic in its own way.  To this day, I will not leave the back gate open when I am unloading anything.  Doesn’t matter where we are - we can be in the most secure location possible - but I still will not leave that gate up…. It has been probably 30+ years since that occurrence…..
So how have the things of God changed your life?  How much has God done for you; how many times has God given you what you needed when you needed it - sometimes physical things, but most often love and grace and comfort and peace; feelings we truly need at times in our lives?  As a simple stolen briefcase has affected my entire life, what God has provided for you should affect your life just as much!  
So take some time and look back over your past years and see where God has been there; see how God has been active in what was going on; see where God has walked along side you; 
You will be amazed and your life will be changed as you realize that as God has always been there for you, he will continue to be there…..
And I will still close my back gate each trip when I unload my groceries!