Parking fines and how to avoid them

Photo credit: Caspar Rae, Unsplash

The other day I had a dream. In my dream I was driving a white car which broke down. I don’t know what was wrong with it but I managed to limp it to a car park and parked it in a vacant space. I didn’t bother to get a ticket – I’m not sure why. Maybe I didn’t have any money on me; maybe I thought that as the car had broken down there was no point; or maybe I just didn’t think about it as I was preoccupied with the car having broken down. Then I went to get help.

When I got back (unsurprisingly, with hindsight), I had been given a parking ticket and a fine. I went to find a car park attendant and so that I could explain the situation to him. Obviously what I should have done was either to get a ticket as normal, or, failing that, to put a little note in the windscreen of my car saying it had broken down. That way the car park attendant (maybe, if they had been in a good mood) might have understood my plight and not given me a ticket.

I don’t really remember the outcome of the dream, but I do remember thinking how like life this can be.

We’re all a bit like this car: we ‘break down’ occasionally. But we are still expected to go about life as normal, fulfilling our normal obligations (buying and displaying a car park ticket). When we ‘break down’, what we need to do is to signal to others that we’re feeling that way, in the hope that they will be understanding, and perhaps release us from some of our everyday obligations (the car park ticket), or at least not put any further obligations and pressure on us (the parking fine).

On the outside, my car looked fine, but under the bonnet it wasn’t very healthy at all. And we do the same: on the outside we look fine, but ‘under the bonnet’, on the inside, we might be feeling broken, tired or worn out, for any number of reasons.

Let me encourage you, when you’re feeling broken down, or even perhaps are just running on an empty tank, let others know – put a little note in your windscreen – so they can help and support you by not adding to your burden, and perhaps they can release you from some of the everyday pressure of life, too. And so they can pray for you.

One final point, more out of interest than anything else – in my dream, the car I was driving was white. This was strange, as our family car is blue. Two things strike me about this. First, I think this was how God signalled to me that perhaps I should take notice of this dream. And second, white is symbolic of what we become when we are forgiven and restored as God’s children. We get dirty and need to be washed regularly so that we stay white, and we also need to be topped up with petrol and carry out routine maintenance so that the car stays healthy. What does that ‘routine maintenance’ look like for you? How do you stay healthy, physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually?

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