It was a dead-air kind of evening; one that wasn't hot and wasn't cold. There was no wind. She'd just come out of Wal-Mart with her two children in tow. God, how she hated Wal-Mart! Yes, the nausea-inducing lights, the football field size of the store, the clientèle who never seem to have mastered the art of pushing their carts on the RIGHT, or actually, any side rather than parking them diagonally in the middle of an aisle. But far more annoying than those problems came at the end of every trip to the store...the 20-minute long checkout line and the demand from some underpaid, overworked employee that she show them her receipt on her way out the door. She'd solved the receipt-at-the-door problem by having her son hand the receipt to the doorway dingbat. She'd managed to hang onto patience the entire 2 hours she was in the store, looking at every toy aisle imaginable and trying to help her children find what they wanted to buy with their birthday money. She'd found the yarn and knitting needles she needed.
All this after she'd spent a solid four hours with her husband and kids, cleaning the back yard. She was exhausted, her feet were killing her even though they sported sneakers, not heels. The cart full, the doorway dingbat satisfied that she hadn't stolen anything, she pushed the cart toward her car, which had been parked miraculously close to the entrance. And then, WHANG!! The cart stopped dead. Thinking she'd run over something, she attempted to back up. Nothing. She tried forward again...no dice. Sadly, she hadn't run over anything. No, the stupid electronic wheel lock had come on. She looked around...there was no yellow line, the traditional marking for such nonsense as locking carts. She was a mere 50 feet from the door. And then, her son saw it. "Look, mom! There's the line!"
And there it was. Maybe three feet long, and near the end of a dark alley on the side of the Wal-Mart store, mixed in with the traditional crosswalk lines, was a yellow line. The merest fragment of the usual thick, yellow line that borders the parking lot.
She lost it. She called information on her cell phone and got the phone number for the Wal-Mart she had just exited. She called the store, and when the poor soul who answers the phone, answered the phone, she heard "Guess What? I'm in your parking lot not more than 50 feet from your door and my cart locked up! I'm standing here in the middle of the road outside your store, trying to get to my car, which is not more than 20 feet away, and I can't, because your cart has locked up! It's bad enough that I have to have my cart searched and my receipt checked every time I leave your store, like some common criminal, and I can never find what I need in less than two hours, and now this! I am tired of being treated this way!"
After a puzzled moment, the poor soul's voice came back on. "Ma'am, I don't even know where you are."
"I'm RIGHT OUTSIDE your door! Not more than 50 feet away! And now I'm going to have to leave my minor children with my cart, go and get my car and block your drive while I load it up! They're just kids! It's dark outside! Can't you make your carts work a little further than 50 feet?"
"Ok. I'm sorry, ma'am. And you know what? Even we employees get searched every time we leave the store, so I know how you feel. I'm really sorry."
She took a breath. "Thank you, and I know it isn't your fault personally. I'm sorry I'm being a jerk."
"That's perfectly alright, ma'am. You have a good evening."
So she went to her car and backed it out of the space. Miraculously, there was no traffic. She drove to the kids, and got them in the car, then unloaded the cart into the trunk and was on her way. She got about a quarter of a mile down the road before she heard a still, small voice talking to her about patience and how people behave in public, especially in front of their children. She picked up her phone and dialed information again. Miraculously, there was an option for being connected with the last number searched for, so she pressed "1." The poor soul came on the phone, and she apologized profusely for her attitude when she called earlier. The poor soul was very gracious.
She ended the call and hung up, and then realized that all those miraculous happenings...weren't. God knew what was going to happen, and let it. He didn't do it because He loves to see people suffer. He didn't do it to punish anyone. His son Jesus took all the punishment that God ever would have had for us, no matter what we do or what future generations do, when he let himself be nailed to a cross and then rose from the dead three days later.
No, He let it happen, I believe, because we are here on Earth in order to learn. Perhaps we're here to learn how to live in heaven. I know I've got a lot to learn..."She" is me.