The license plate hung at a slant off the back of the beat up little truck, a couple pieces of old wire hanging on for dear life as it swung ever so slightly. If it weren't for the word I saw there I would have thought it unremarkable, but there it hung, making this bold announcement to the world on a dented old pickup.
As I passed, curiosity got the best of me and I snuck a peek at the driver. He was a young guy, I'd guess not yet 25, hair buzzed, clothes too big and very dirty, tattoos gracing his sleeveless arm. He looked angry, like one of those punks on the cop shows who whip out a gun because they're scared and want to make a statement.
Except this kid made the statement with his license plate.
We've all known that feeling, haven't we? We feel it and maybe sigh. We brush it aside and go on with our day. But this kid felt it so strongly he paid to put it on his license plate.
It made me want to cry. This angry, tough-looking guy I wouldn't want to meet in a dark alley, reduced to five characters giving a glimpse of the struggling boy within.
How many people have I passed on any given day whose hearts bear the same message? I think of the efficient checker who rarely looks at the customers and carries a chip on her shoulder ensuring you don't ask. Is she feeling the same thing?
What about the woman who slips into church five minutes late, sits in the back and hightails it out of there before anyone can speak to her?
There's the young mother feeding the infant at 3:AM, so sleep deprived she can barely work the remote, doing her best to gear up for another day of sticky fingers and fighting toddlers. Or that person whose problem is too deep to articulate, who knows their spirit feels off and has prayed for God's deliverance only to land in the same funk again. There's the family who's suffered another layoff, wondering why.
It's me some days too, when the phone doesn't ring or my efforts seem unappreciated, when the plumbing's screwed up and the car won't start, when the words are hard to come by, or the pain of working through the junk feels too hard. It's the days when I'm tired of the busyness, or I don't know how we're gonna pay for everything, or I am all too aware and weary of my humanness. I, feeling like a member of the 4GOTN club ask, "Why does it have to be so hard, God?"
And God simply says, "It doesn't."
. . . My Presence will go with you and I will give you rest.
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
. . . In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.