Earlier this week I needed to run a couple errands – the post office and Walmart. My daughter Katie was visiting from out of town and I conscripted her as my driver. Our journey to the post office was uneventful. From there, we made our way to one of the local Walmart stores to pick up a prescription. It was late in the afternoon on 3 July and we were surprised to find a suitable parking space.
Katie jumped out of the van and opened the side door for my exit. I, in turn, began to back up my motorized wheelchair only to encounter difficulty in moving. By now, I have mastered navigating with my lower lip and chin. But exiting my van is tricky. My chair was stuck; my wheels refused to rotate. Persevering I rolled over something but managed to back up and finally descend the ramp to the parking lot. Rolling up to peer into the van, I was surprised to observe the left leg brace and foot bracket where I had been sitting.
Desiring to complete our chore, I told Katie to ignore it and we proceeded out of the heat and into the store. Inside, I attempted to contact my local wheelchair rep and left a message. It was now after 3 o’clock in the afternoon before 4 July! I was not hopeful for a reply and I was right. After picking up the few things that we needed, it occurred to me that the VA medical center in Hampton had a wheelchair repair clinic. I made the necessary phone call and was connected to a helpful mechanic who would help me, providing we arrived before 4:15 PM. Normally, this would not be an issue.
We hastily departed from the store and dropped off the prescription for Judy. Expecting that the traffic would be problematic, I suggested an alternate route, which would be less traveled. Initially, this proved to be a solid choice. We made good time until we were about 1 mile from the VA.
Cresting the summit of a bridge. We were confronted with what I had attempted to avoid. The VA is located just off an exit of the interstate highway which was predictably backed up because of the tunnel. By now it was 3:45 PM and everywhere I looked I observed traffic congestion. Not only was there a lot of traffic but nothing was moving. There were no workable options; every possibility was stymied. I silently prayed for patience and asked for the Lord’s assistance. I’m getting really good at praying once I have expended all other opportunities!
Actually, I had prayed earlier for the Lord’s intervention while in the parking lot. I may be a slow learner, but at least I am learning slowly! Now I had the opportunity to demonstrate my trust. I again phoned the VA and was patched through to the wheelchair mechanics, apprising them of my intention to be there as quickly as possible. I was politely informed that they leave at 4:30 PM.
A traffic jam is a wonderful place to observe human behavior at its finest. Some drivers try to force their way ahead, while most are polite, following the mantra: “you’re next, right after me.” We persevered and finally made it to the entrance of the VA compound. By now, all the exits of the parking lots were choked with traffic. It was quitting time.
We finally arrived at the wheelchair repair clinic at about 4:22 PM. There is no parking lot, only a narrow driveway. Descending from the van into a small crater, which I thought I could manage, the wheelchair snagged the edge of the sidewalk. Katie quickly sought assistance and the wheelchair technicians quickly arrived to extricate me. They ushered me into the clinic and carried the displaced footplate.
Inside the clinic, a courteous technician named Michael examined and repaired my wheelchair. Even though he was delayed from leaving his regular quitting time, he was both cheerful and competent. Sometimes, the VA gets a bad rap for being inefficient and abrupt. This is not usually true, and Michael was noticeably pleasant and efficient. He was an answer to my prayer. I thank God for him.
Psalm 121 (ESV)
1I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come?
2My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
3He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber.
4Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
5The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
6The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night.
7The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life.
8The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.