Does it seem that everything goes wrong at the same time? I was telling a friend of mine the other day that it seems I only get speeding tickets when I am absolutely broke. For example, about twenty years ago, I was driving in the middle of the night across country to see my sister and see about a job. I had just quit a job that was not working out and had no idea what the future held. I had no job, no money, no future, as far as I could see, and then, to make matters worse, I looked in my rear view mirror and saw flashing red lights. Just what I needed— a speeding ticket while I was broke without a job! I honestly had no idea I was speeding enough to warrant a ticket, but the officer was not the least bit sympathetic.
Needles to say I was very frustrated. I was already feeling down before I got the ticket. Now I was in despair and gloom as I asked God how He was going to take care of this ticket for me, since He knew I had no money when He allowed this to happen. (Never mind the fact that it was my foot and not His on the gas pedal!)
As I was complaining to God about the situation He had just placed me in and asking Him in despair how in the world He was going to provide the money for the ticket, I suddenly realized the obvious: God does not have to provide for this ticket. God does not have to do anything for me! God does not owe me anything! Then it hit me what I was doing. After He created me and died for me, I was withholding my praise from Jesus until He took care of this ticket for me. I finally realized I was blaming God for allowing something that was all my fault. This all happened years before Facebook, but as I write today, I can relate an old Facebook meme that says, “Everything happens for a reason. Sometimes the reason is that we make bad choices.” As I contemplated all of this while driving in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night, I also realized that if God never provided the money for this ticket and stopped giving me any more blessings from that day forward, He still had already given me way more than I deserve! As a matter of fact, Calvary alone warrants all of my thankfulness, praise and devotion, without God ever giving me anything else.
There in the middle of the night, in the middle of nowhere, I changed my attitude from gloom and despair to joy and praise. I decided not to ask God to help me pay for the ticket, but instead just thank Him and praise Him for everything else He has already done for me. I then remembered reading a passage about how Satan cannot stand to be in our presence when we praise God, “
When the evil one begins to settle his gloom about you, sing praise to God. … strike up a song about the matchless charms of the Son of God, and I tell you, when you touch this strain, Satan will leave you. You can drive out the enemy with his gloom; . . . and you can see, oh, so much clearer, the love and compassion of your heavenly Father. (Ellen White, Heavenly Places, p 95.)
Considering the above passage, I thought to myself, “Hey, if Satan is going to try to ruin my day by giving me this ticket (I went from blaming God to blaming Satan, but it wasn’t Satan’s foot on the gas pedal either!), then I am going to ruin his day by singing praises to my God. I started singing praises at the top of my lungs. I was traveling in the middle of the night hundreds of miles away from my friends or family, but I felt the presence of angels as they sang with me. I wasn’t worried about the ticket any more. I was worried about making sure God knew I appreciated His sacrifice at Calvary. (By the way, God did take care of the ticket for me. My sister also happens to be an angel.) I also found a job and a future that outshone my past, but even more impressive were the two lessons I learned that night:
One: God owes me nothing and I owe Him everything. After Calvary if He never gave me another gift, I still have cause to praise him for the rest of my life!
Two: Singing praises to God will change your day and life from gloom and doom to joy and gladness.