I grew up going to UAW activities held in parking lots. My daddy was a committee man for the Willow Run GM plant. His local was 735 and my dad was a loved man there. Everyone knew us. There were car shows. There were carnivals. I remember my twin and I in double strollers and there were colors and music everywhere. Man. I loved my dads local and I loved my dads job. One time we got to ride around the safe part of the plant in a golf cart, I was wearing lacey white socks and I cut the back of my leg. I didn’t want to tell my dad because I didn’t want to get off the cart. What memories. I cherish those moments in those parking lots.
Today, that factory is shut down. The local has moved, I’m not even sure it is still running. Those parking lots are empty. There isn’t anymore carnival with bounce houses. There isn’t anymore race cars with the TIDE logo on the side. That makes me so sad. It took me a few years to even realize the plant closed. I just never drove past it. Then one day I started taking that way and I saw it.
The once paved parking lot that was useful for so many things like parking for work, car shows, and bounce houses, now sits chained up, abandoned, a memory of what was.
I was driving along today thinking about how sad it made me. I kinda related to that parking lot, as silly as that sounds. I used to feel so useful, so helpful, so colorful, and thriving. Then life took over. My economy tanked and all of those good qualities left me, it felt like. Nobody came around anymore. Nobody needed the goods and services I had inside of me. Its in those moments I battle with the “am I really doing any good by being here? Is my life really that valuable?” and it’s in those moments I tell myself no. I’m not doing any good, and it’s not valuable. I’m not the only one that feels like an abandoned parking lot, am I? Is this setting with you right now? Are you saying “FINALLY! Someone gets it!”. Well, you’re not alone.
Like most people, I suffer alone. I don’t talk about the thoughts that truly kept me up at night. But God had been desperately trying to call me. I had been feeling so useless, I wasn’t listening to the one that calls me “useful”.
The verse I was thinking of when I saw the plant today was Ezekiel 36:26, to be fair, I think God gave it to me because I haven’t read that book in a while. This verse is all about God’s desire for our lives. It says “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh”. God’s desire isn’t for us to be an abandoned parking lot. God’s desire for us is to be an out pouring of love and joy. Figuratively, He desires us to be the car show and the bounce houses and the double strollers riding through sounds of laughter and music.
WE sell our factories and put up a vacant sign. We stop reading our word and we stop living as God calls us to. In Deuteronomy 30:3-9 it tells us of all the promises that come from God. All of the restoration. It tells us of the heart changes in your life. It says “God will start enjoying you again, making things go well for you”. That doesn’t come for free, In verse 10 it says we must obey God, we must give God our entire heart, mind, and soul. Holding nothing back. Notice it says ENTIRE and to hold NOTHING back. That means those thoughts that creep up and separate us from God’s will and perfect love. Because what God can do with those negative thoughts is astounding. He uses them as payment for that parking lot. He takes the bad thoughts and paves over the cracks in the parking lot.
When we walk in the perfect will of God, even in our imperfectness, things change. Tough times come, but they don’t take you out. The weather comes in like a hurricane, but the weather waters the trees and the grass. God keeps our parking lots unbroken. When we walk with Him the bad doesn’t sting. The storms can be good. God is so wonderful, that even when we mess up, all we have to do is to call upon His name and He beings the hard work. He gets out the cement, puts on his coveralls, gets down on His knees and HE works for you. The king of kings does LABOR on your behalf.
I know my visuals are far fetched, but Jensen Franklin uses a pizza box.
Praying for anyone tonight that feels like the Willow Run GM plant. Your good days are not in the past. Your life isn’t abandoned or closed up. God is ready to work for you. You are bounce houses and double strollers. You are car shows and music. You can radiate life and joy. Your best days are yet to come.
Ezekiel 36:26-29 – 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. 28 Then you will live in the land I gave your ancestors; you will be my people, and I will be your God. 29 I will save you from all your uncleanness. I will call for the grain and make it plentiful and will not bring famine upon you.
Deuteronomy 30:3-10 MSG – 3 God, your God, will restore everything you lost; he’ll have compassion on you; he’ll come back and pick up the pieces from all the places where you were scattered. 4 No matter how far away you end up, God, your God, will get you out of there 5 and bring you back to the land your ancestors once possessed. It will be yours again. He will give you a good life and make you more numerous than your ancestors. 6 God, your God, will cut away the thick calluses on your heart and your children’s hearts, freeing you to love God, your God, with your whole heart and soul and live, really live. 7 God, your God, will put all these curses on your enemies who hated you and were out to get you. 8 And you will make a new start, listening obediently to God, keeping all his commandments that I’m commanding you today. 9 God, your God, will outdo himself in making things go well for you: you’ll have babies, get calves, grow crops, and enjoy an all-around good life. Yes, God will start enjoying you again, making things go well for you just as he enjoyed doing it for your ancestors. 10 But only if you listen obediently to God, your God, and keep the commandments and regulations written in this Book of Revelation. Nothing halfhearted here; you must return to God, your God, totally, heart and soul, holding nothing back.