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TITLE: Space For Only One
By Loretta Leonard

Target group: Adult readers. Many elderly people can become obsessed with their own problems rather than keeping their eyes on the Lord. As adult children who may have been entrusted to their care, it helps to keep them focused on what the Lord has done. I need to be sure to not complain about things over which I have no control. My trust should also be in the Lord since he is the only one who can direct my paths.
�You know, I am getting tired of having to park in a regular parking space just because someone else took the handicap place. I have my hang tag to identify that I am handicapped but it�s worthless around here. You would think Alice would at least be considerate and let me have that one space. She certainly doesn�t need to park there.�

The elderly man slowly got out of the car and carefully placed his feet on the ground. His breathing was heavy and it took a lot of effort just to get oxygen into his lungs. He had been diagnosed with congestive heart failure two years ago and moving took so much effort that he was tired within five minutes. At his age he deserved some respect but he always felt that he was ignored.

The comment was made over and over again each Sunday morning as he drove into the paved parking lot. He was agitated but reserved his comments to his wife. Each Sunday morning the frustration over the parking space was the same. He had a handicapped tag and wanted the one space on the lot. Another parishioner took the space and Dale never could figure out why. The parking space soon became the most important thing to him. It was almost like he dreaded going to church because he was afraid that the space would already been taken.

The church was located in a small town and the average attendance was about forty. There were two ways to get into the building. One way to enter was through the fellowship door, which involved no steps but required a short walk to the sanctuary. The second entrance was near the front steps of the sanctuary and involved climbing steps. With some assistance he could manage getting to the top step. He didn�t like to depend on others and a hand rail along the side would give him some extra support.

"Good morning,Dale. It's nice to see that you made it out today to be with us in this service," mentioned Pastor White. "How's everything this morning?"

"I'm fine. I feel better and at least I can get out and drive from place to place," stated Dale.

Finding his regular seat in the pew at the front of the church, Dale slowly sat down and relaxed in preparation for the morning service. With the small number of members, Dale knew everyone. In fact his brother-in-law and sister-in-law attended, too. Several nieces and nephews had also been a part of the family when they were children but now they were married and members of another church in smaller communities in the same area.

Focusing his attention on the sermon, Dale listened to the discourse on how to be a good neighbor. It all made sense and he felt that he was being friendly with others living around him. The closing remarks gave an incentive to find one way to show love or kindness to a neighbor who lived in your area but didn't know very well.

Upon leaving the church Dale found himself face to face with the problem that had plagued him just an hour ago. The parking space. Disgruntled he made his way towards the car and prepared to make his way home for a simple Sunday dinner.

Just like the situation above I can always find something that annoys me and gets me into a grumpy mood. There are plenty of ways that others take advantage of people or at least seem to have the upper hand. Many times it is an oversight rather than a malicious intent to cause problems. At church it is difficult to imagine anyone being mean by taking one specific parking space. There were many free spaces in the parking lot and there were spaces on either side of the handicap spot.

In this situation the handicap parking space became an obsession and a source of frustration to Dale. He got upset when he arrived and the handicap space was already occupied. He got agitated when he left church because the problem had not been solved. His spiritual vision had become clouded by his right to have things exactly the way he wanted them to be. It was almost like he forgot why he went to church in the first place. Drawing near to God took a precedence over fellowship with God. The message from the pulpit vanished from his memory when he walked out the door.

A very humbling experience for me was when my son mentioned to me that I should let go of an issue that had bothered me for years. I kept bringing the topic up yet even my son realized that it was time to put the past behind me.

Keeping my eyes on Jesus and recognizing the great gift God gave me is important. Yes, I have a lot of things that beg for my attention and it�s not easy. From time to time I lose my focus and find it hard to concentrate on God�s message or fail to hear his quiet voice calling to me. When problems become overwhelming, I need to keep them in perspective. I may experience �hard feelings� from time to time but as a Christian I should forgive and forget.

God is teaching me to trust Him 100% of the time. It�s a lesson that I am asked to remember over and over again. And just when I think I may have learned the lesson, God tests me again. He wants me to give Him complete control of my life. When I learn to do that, the complaining will stop. Then I can see His face and take comfort in His arms.

God doesn�t want me to complain about something I can�t control. Perhaps a simple word could have solved the problem over the handicap parking space, but complaining didn�t resolve the situation. The "battle" over the handicap space was never resolved. It remained a source of contention for many months.

When I complain and grumble over a situation that is especially hard I have failed to put my complete faith in God and His ability to handle my problems. I need to remember that God�s answer to my prayers may be �Yes,� �No,� or quite possibly there is no immediate answer.

In my life there is to be space for only one. The space has to be either focused on me and my complaints or focused on God and his trust. You can�t do both. How much room is in there your life for God?
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