Rite of Passage: Curious lessons
Have you ever bought something—only to lose it moments later?
I don’t know if this has ever happened to you, but it can drive a person crazy. In my case, that’s a short trip. The people closest to me would say it’s right around the corner.
Allow me to set up the circumstances that inspired my question. I was driving from Tulsa to Oklahoma Baptist University to attend a banquet honoring my mentor, Avery Willis. A big chunk of my trip took place on Oklahoma’s Will Rogers Turnpike. Tulsa is the only city I know that makes you pay to get out of town. When you see the “You are now leaving Tulsa” sign, pull out your wallet—there’s a toll booth ahead.
Halfway between Tulsa and Oklahoma City lies the midway, home to both a McDonald’s and a service station. They say you can get gas from either place. When I reached the midway, I realized my truck was low on fuel. It had been a long day, so while I filled up, I purchased a Diet Coke and a small tin of Altoids. If you’ve ever tried an Altoid, you know that they live up to their slogan, “The Original Celebrated Curiously Strong Mints.”
I got back into my truck, tossed the Altoids on the passenger seat, buckled my seat belt, opened my Diet Coke and pulled back onto the turnpike. I drove along, enjoying the warm sun on my face and listening to the radio. As the teenagers would put it, I was “chillin’.”
When I reached the Shawnee city limits, I realized I hadn’t freshened my breath. I reached over to get the Altoids and they were. . . gone. Curiously gone! I kept one eye on the road and—with my one free eye—looked all around the floorboard. Maybe the box of mints slid off when I made a turn? Nothing.
I came to a stop light. That meant I had a few minutes for my other eye to join the search. I looked all around on the seat, the floorboard . . . nothing. What could have happened to those Altoids?
The light changed. With both eyes back on the road, I began a one-armed search. My right hand checked out the crack where the back and bottom portions of the seat joined. In the past, I’ve found many items lodged there. My fingers plunged deep and skimmed along the crevice to search for those Altoids. Nothing. Curiously nothing.
Where could have they gone? I hadn’t opened the door, so they couldn’t have fallen out. I pulled into the OBU parking lot and began the real search. There is no graceful way to look under the seat of a vehicle. I squatted on my heels with my head turned sideways, trying to insert one eyeball into the space between the bottom of the seat and the top of the rubber mat. As my eye adjusted to the darkness I saw . . . bunnies, lots of dust bunnies. “Do these bunnies eat Altoids?” I wondered.
I walked to the other side of my truck and repeated the procedure. This time I saw a younger generation of dust bunnies. Next, I looked in the side door pockets and behind the seat. Nothing, nothing and nothing.
It was time for the banquet, so I discontinued my search. Back home the next day, I searched my truck again and found. . . nothing. I never did find those Altoids. I am sad to report that I have lain in bed staring at the ceiling, still wondering what happened to those mints.
God speaks to me in unusual ways. This week, He used some curiously strong mints. I was reading in Matthew 6:33, “But seek first his kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things will be given to you as well.” I heard Him whisper, “How hard did you look for those Altoids?”
God must like redundant questions, because I know He saw me squatting and searching under the seats of my truck. But I learned long ago not to lie to Him. I confessed, “Lord, You know how long and hard I Iooked for those ‘original celebrated curiously strong mints.’”
I anticipated His next question. “How hard have you sought me?” If I would put in half the effort to seek Him as I did a tin of Altoids, I could have “all these things” given to me.
That conversation also had a side note. God reminded me that Altoids were not the “original.” He was. And if I sought Him I would understand how to apply the words “curiously strong” to my life.
“ Yes, Lord, I understand . . . but could you tell me where my Altoids went?”
Walker Moore is president of AweStar Ministries in Tulsa, P.O. Box 470265, Tulsa 74147, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, phone 800/AWESTAR (293-7827.