About five years ago, I prayed that the Lord would help me finding a parking spot. And He did.
It was at a bar for a Theology on Tap event and tired, introverted me was trying to muster up the energy to attend a talk when I really wanted to fall into bed for nine hours of sleep. As I circled the parking lot, I told the Lord that if He wanted me to go to the event, then I needed to find a parking spot.
Weaving my way through the full lot, I saw a man talking on his phone at the apartment building in front of me. He waved and pointed to a spot nearby. I hadn’t parked there because it was for a business, but upon closer inspection, I realized the business was closed and the spot was fair game. I laughed, pulled into the spot, and got out of my car. The man waved and smiled at me. Wondering if he was someone I knew or was perhaps at the same event, I slowly turned and saw that the apartment building was completely separated from the bar I was going to enter.
A random guy pointing out a parking spot at a bar was a concrete example of God’s love for me. Walking into the bar, I was convinced the Lord loved me and cared for me. It was humorous, but it was an encounter with God’s providence of something unnecessary yet greatly desired. The Lord provided for such a small need so promptly. An occasion that wasn’t really that spectacular–looking for a spot in a crowded parking lot–remains embedded in my memory because of how God moved in my heart.
In actuality, the Lord was fulfilling my deeper desire for good community by providing a spot that allowed me to go into the bar so I could listen to a talk and meet up with friends and acquaintances. That evening, I ended up chatting for quite some time with someone who would become one of my dearest friends. Yet in order for this deeper desire to be fulfilled, the Lord had to satisfy the initial desire of finding a parking spot.
A few weeks ago, I recounted this story during a talk I was giving at a high school retreat. It had been a while since I had told anyone the story or even recalled it myself. As I told the story, the conviction of God’s love for me was renewed again in my heart. They were laughing as I told the story and yet it was a tangible encounter of God using other people (even without their knowledge) to provide for me. But telling the story another time made me relive the experience in my heart, a new wave of love washed over me again as I told others about it. The blessing wasn’t just in that moment five years ago, it is rekindled when I remember the experience.
Since that evening five years ago, I have had many more deep encounters with God’s love through prayer, the sacraments, and events of everyday life. Yet this experience remains one of my favorites. It isn’t necessarily miraculous, but it was the definitive response I desired, even if it was in a way I didn’t expect. It is a moment I can point to and say, with certainty, “In this situation, God provided for me and it was an experience of His extravagant love.”
If I spent every day seeking for it and expecting it, I wonder how many more times I would see the providential hand of God intervening in my daily life. If I viewed everything as a means to experience God’s love, how many other routine moments of the day would be bathed in a tangible encounter with God?
Another take-away? Present your needs to the Lord, as petty or as small as they may seem. Nothing is too small for the Lord to care about and nothing is too large to overwhelm Him. And He just may provide more than you expected.