Monday, May 7, 2012
Cedric and Jesus
It was a long flight and a long day. We all have them. I had a 7:30 am meeting and then worked until noon. I finished my last-minute packing and headed to the airport at noon for my flight from LA to Atlanta with a stopover in Vegas.
I worked on the plane, so the time actually went by pretty fast. But I did not arrive in Atlanta until a almost midnight and then I had too pick up a rental car and head about 45 minutes north to my hotel. I am a penny pincher, so I reserved a car through Hotwire--much cheaper. I was on a week of business and then a week of vacation so I was bagged to the max. Thank goodness for Southwest's check-two-bags-free policy. But now I had to schlepp all these bags...a lot farther than I anticipated. When I finally made it to the rental car garage it was almost 1 a.m. I showed a young man my rental document with ”HOTWIRE” clearly displayed across the top. He pointed and said, ”There are only two cars left. The keys are in them you can take either one.”
I schlepped my bags a little farther and threw them into the car. I climbed in and and quickly surveyed the car to see where all the controls were situated. After what seemed a very long time at this hour I pulled out and headed for the exit with rental doc and ID in hand.
I greeted the gentleman at the gate and handed him my stuff. He took one look and said, ”I’m sorry but this is a Hotwire rental. I cannot help you. You need to go back to the rental counter." Now, remember, I had schlepped all these bags a very long way and had passed the rental counter hours ago (at least it seemed that way). I was a about ready to light into this guy when I remembered a recent sermon I preached (I hate it when this happens) and I saw the name tag--his name was Cedric. He was a person not a company. I decided to practice what I preach and treat this man as a valued person made in the image of a God and not as the company that was about to try and send me on a wild goose chase because I had rented on the cheap.
I said, ”Cedric, your my man. I have been traveling all day and I still have a long way to go. The other employee saw my reservations and directed me here, so I am not going back to the rental counter.” He said he could not process this rental at the booth, so he would have to call a supervisor. I thanked him and said, ”Cedric, we can do this. I am just asking you to try. I know you can help me. There’s got to be a way. Cedric,I am going to do what I can do. I am going to pray to the Lord Jesus to find favor for me, and you make that phone call.”
The supervisor put Cedric on hold. After just a few minutes Cedric hung up and asked me to give him my credit card and ID. He was going to try to process it. I prayed some more. I don’t like driving in the dark any time, but especially not in a totally unknown city in the wee hours of the morning. I am not one to pray for things like parking spaces and green lights, but this felt potentially life threatening. I prayed.
All a of a sudden Cedric shouted, ”It went through!” I, though not charismatic, shouted ”Hallelujah!” Cedric laughed. I prayed again, giving thanks. I thanked him again (Cedric,that is) and said ”Cedric, don’t ever underestimate what you and Jesus can do!”
As I drove away I reflected on how close I had come to losing my cool and an opportunity to bear witness to the simple goodness of God--even in Atlanta at a car rental garage in the middle of the night. And the Spirit of God gently nudged ME that night a little closer to the sweet spot where life and ministry meet.