Free Parking

Gustavo needed a ride to his colonoscopy appointment. He has prostate cancer, and the radiation treatment has caused him some internal bleeding. On the way to the hospital, he tells me that he recently passed out at the grocery store. “I was in a lot of pain and then I fell over.” While we are in the waiting room Gustavo tells me that he isn’t worried. He grew up in Central America and witnessed the murder of most of his classmates. “The militarized government killed a lot of people. I survived all of that death and now I am here with you! I trust God and if it’s my time to go so be it.” Gustavo is so thankful that I took the time to be with him and drive him to his surgery that he asks if we can take a picture. He wants a record of our time together. We take a selfie and I think of how many people I have in my life that can and would take me to the hospital. Praying with Gustavo in the waiting room, is a prophetic declaration that God really doesn’t leave us or forsake us. That the forgiveness of Christ is really the only currency that matters. A few hours later we drive back to his apartment. The anesthesia has affected his short-term memory and he is pretty loopy. With all the things going on in his life, Gustavo is fixated on paying for parking. I tell him several times and in many different ways not to worry about it. We arrive at his apartment, and I let another resident and the building manager know to keep an eye on him. Gustavo again asks how much he owes me for parking, and I assure him that it’s no problem. Three days later I receive a call from his landlord. Gustavo is still agonizing about the cost of parking and wants to know how much he needs to repay me. Six dollars shouldn’t be this stressful. The only way I can ease Gustavo’s agony is to lie and tell him that the parking was free. Is it harder to believe in the free gift of God’s grace or free parking? “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:1-2 NIV).” I am thankful that Jesus breaks the law with love and that he is more powerful than parking enforcement.

Michael Cox

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