On Saturday, May 7, I was at a Caribou Coffee working on a presentation for my church family in Minneapolis about my summer plans. In a valiant attempt to clear out my fridge and pantry before leaving, I had been on a steady of diet of cream of wheat and oatmeal for the past several days, and was looking for a little variety. I was being very careful with my finances, but I decided that a vegetarian burrito from Chipotle was a healthy addition to my dietary needs.
I placed the order for the burrito, but their stir fry peppers and whatnot weren't ready for a few minutes, so I said I'd wait. I decided to download a few things real quick. ...Do I admit what I was downloading? Okay, I will. Adventures in Odyssey episodes. I recently came across some old ones in my itunes and discovered that they put me to sleep very quickly. This comes in handy with my erratic sleep schedule.
Anyway, I had my ipad out. I went through the line, filling the burrito with everything they would allow. As I prepared to pay, the lady behind the register told me the burrito was on the house due to my wait time for the peppers. I was thrilled. And rejoicing. Maybe it's just me, but I saw God's hand in that small experience. I've been trying to be a good steward with my money, for the sake of the summer, and I saw this as a tremendous affirmation and blessing! I was smiling widely as I set my ipad down to pack my burrito in my bag. I strode out to Wilberforce and rode home. When I was home I made a quick phone call, read a text message, and went for my ipad so I could listen to some music. My ipad wasn't in my bag. It didn't take long for me to remember setting the ipad down at the restaurant, but I was struggling to remember putting it back in my bag. I ran to Wilberforce and sped (speed being relative, here) to Chipotle. It wasn't where I set it on the counter. I spoke briefly with the management there and they said they could check later to see if their cameras picked anything up.
I went home and dumped my bag out. Of course it wasn't in there. For the minutes between realizing what I had done and finding out it was gone I was frantic. I knew what my summer plans were for the ipad. I knew that it was a seemingly indispensable tool for the summer, as well as for my daily life. Seemingly. After returning home I went to my knees in my living room and prayed. I didn't know what to pray. Do I pray that I get it back? That didn't seem right. Could God have something to teach me through this? Most assuredly. A few weeks earlier my car had been broken into. That really didn't bother me, because my car is expendable. It's a blessing, to be sure, and God is keeping it running. but if it sprouted legs and walked off, I wouldn't lose a minute of sleep. But my ipad? I 'needed' that.
I was a little surprised to see my scooter still sitting outside the next morning. I scrambled to put my notes together for Sunday morning in a red notebook, and made my way to church. God had put joy in my heart. I called my mom (it was Mother's Day) and told my parents about it. I was excited. Maybe God was going to show me that I really can function as a human being and a follower of Christ without a computer! This is going to be such an interesting summer! And it was one of the TWO things I thought were critical to my summer's success! HA!
As I shared with my church my vision for my summer ministry, I mentioned as a disclaimer that my ipad, with most of my notes, had been stolen the night before. In the afternoon I concluded my Marine Corps and settled down to do some studying and reading.
I received a call from a family that they had something for me, if I had the chance to come by. So I did. When I arrived, they told me that they looked at each other when I mentioned my ipad being stolen, knowing exactly what the other was thinking. They seem to have a knack for that. They related that to me as they gave me a box. It was a sealed box that contained a brand new ipad. They had bought it several weeks earlier but hadn't bothered to open it yet. They insisted that I take it, and I accepted it, dumbfounded. This was not what I expected. God's lesson was supposed to be that I can function just fine without my precious little electronics. Right? I think that lesson remained, but there was a new lesson I saw.
I don't think I seemed very grateful when I received this gift because I didn't feel like I deserved it. That's where I received a lesson in grace. God's grace is undeserved, and yet is is lavished upon me every day. It wasn't even 24 hours and I was holding a newer, better ipad in my hands, graciously given to me despite my unprecedented absentmindedness. I felt like I hadn't even suffered long enough for my mistake. John Newton had it right, I think.
I mailed it to a friend I had sold my computer to a while earlier and he was able to upload almost everything I had on my previous ipad onto the new one and had it mailed back to me two days before this trip began. Every blog you have read, every email you have received, every photo you have seen, it has all been made possible by this ipad. Naturally, I am typing this very blog on it right now.
This was one of the first great provisions by God's hand through his people for this trip, and as you have read in the past weeks, it certainly hasn't been the last. Just today again some tremendous blessings were bestowed on us by people I don't even know yet.
It is a joy to write about and remember these blessings. I don't want them to fade with time. Rev and I intended to document every way God has worked in this trip, but it has already been innumerable. Should've known. We would be writing more than we would be riding. Oh, that was a pretty clever sentence... :)
So, I praise the Lord for the undeserved blessing of the ipad (it is no longer 'mine'), and I honor the family that was so encouraging and eager to be used as a blessing.
I've had the first line of the doxology rolling around in my head for some time now..
"Praise God from whom all blessings flow"