What is a lifetime? If one averages a human life to 75 years, that is 27,375 days, or 657,000 hours, or 39,420,000 seconds. Those who served in the infantry during a war often say their time is 95% boredom punctuated by 5% terror. For most of us, our days are daily, ordinary, tick-tock time punctuated by occasional moments that bring wonder and joy or heartache. Over a lifetime, we know there are seconds that transform every moment that follows. It is one of the benefits of now being 70 and considered by many as being elderly. If I live to 75, the few seconds that occurred when I was 19 will be the few that changed my life most dramatically.
It was March of 1971 when my girlfriends and I were driving out of the parking lot of our motel in Ft. Lauderdale that a man stood in front of our car while waving his hands! He knocked on the driver’s window, and when Lynda rolled down the window, he asked, “Is there a Becky Gilbert in the car?” I remember feeling shocked that my mother would have gotten ahold of me, most likely to pick up an item from her friend’s home in Ft. Lauderdale so she could save on postage!
The man who stopped us said that someone was on the phone who needed to talk to me. I went to the lobby desk, and a friend of ours from high school was on the other end of the line. He asked if we could give him a ride home to Ohio. He was at the airport, and could we please pick him up?
What I didn’t know at that moment was he had lost his ticket. He was desperate and stoned, but he remembered that I was leaving that day to return to Ohio. Unfortunately, he forgot where I was staying. He searched the Yellow Pages, and with five dollars on his person, he began calling every hotel asking for me. Since he realized I might not be the one registered, he also asked if there were four girls from Ohio. Most front desk clerks hung up on him. But with two dollars left, he asked if I was registered, if any girls were from Ohio, and then finally if anyone was driving a white Datsun.
The front desk clerk said, “Wait a minute, there is a white Datsun leaving the parking lot right now.”
We agreed that we could give him a ride home to Ohio, but only if he would drive all the way! I don’t recall anything about the entire trip except one incident of terror when we were followed and shot at by several cars after our driver caused a stir at a gas station.
During the next five years the driver and I would see each other at rock concerts at his college or mine, and we even wrote to one another at the different dorms we lived in. Word through “the grapevine” was that he had become a Christian.
Five summers later, the driver of the Datsun was in Columbus when a friend hollered, in a sneering voice, across a huge record store, “Becky Gilbert has become a Christian like you!” It wasn’t long after that when the driver called me and would not tell me who he was…only that it was a “voice from the past.”
I playfully asked him if he would give me his initials. “D. A.” he dryly said. Without missing much of a beat, I said, “Dan Allender, where are you?” What ensued is a longer story marked by the oddities of my husband and the vagaries of the goodness of God.
Our origin story is marked by brokenness and beauty. When we didn’t think our marriage could bear the weight of sin, heartache, and loss, we have told each other the story of what brought us together.
To our God, a thousand years is a day and a second is an eternity.
Time is God’s creation, and he is not bound by time, nor caught in the linear progression from one day to the next. God is as much in the moment of our death as she is in our birth. He is as much in the moment of the hotel clerk’s tapping at the Datsun’s door as he is in the typing of my fingers.
But for me in my earthly body, God showed up in those seconds as a rescue. It is apparent and profound. What if every moment, every second, whether we see it or feel it, is in fact part of her rescue? To prize the movement of time, and to hold the treasure of seconds, is to “number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).
Becky Allender lives on Bainbridge Island with her loving, wild husband of 44 years. A mother and grandmother, she is quite fond of sunshine, yoga, Hawaiian quilting, and creating 17th Century reproduction samplers. A community of praying women, loving Jesus, and the art of gratitude fill her life with goodness. She wonders what she got herself into with Red Tent Living! b
What a wonderful tale of the wild providence of God. I’m so grateful that God brought the two of you together. What a wonderful legacy you have built!