By Curtis K. Shelburne: CNJ columnist
I don’t remember exactly when Garrison Keillor told the story, but the tale I find myself recalling today is definitely one of his. The details are fuzzy, and Keillor tells the story much better than I can, but . . .
I seem to remember that it was an old gentleman named Florian Krepsbach who was walking down a sidewalk beside Lake Woebegon’s Main Street when a pre-teen boy ran over him with a bicycle.
Well, “ran over” might be a bit strong. Actually, he just ran “into” him. Knocked down and shaken up, Florian knew he’d be one sore old guy the next day. But no bones were broken. And he’d been expecting worse. He was actually kind of relieved and didn’t even feel much need to give the apologetic young lad a serious speech on bicycle safety.
Ever since Florian had accidentally left his wife Myrtle at a truck stop a few weeks before, he’d been expecting some sort of divine evening of the score. Getting run down by a bicycle and being able to walk away from the accident was far less retribution than he’d felt would surely come.
They’d been on their way to a doctor appointment in the city. Myrtle had found a little blood on her tooth brush and thought she’d better see a doctor. Florian was not quite as sympathetic as he probably should have been. He didn’t like driving on the Interstate and just wasn’t happy about the whole thing. Since he was on edge already, he was enjoying the driving even less than usual and was fully expecting to get plowed under by a big truck. Already worried about her health, Myrtle was also nervous about big trucks and death, which meant she rattled on and on for miles and ended up asking Florian a tough question which he was mulling over as they pulled into a gas station for a fill up and a pit stop.
Florian was still mulling when he climbed back into the car and, thinking Myrtle was in the back seat, shifted into drive, and drove, and left Myrtle at the truck stop. When miles later he realized what he’d done, Florian was horrified. But the Interstate confused him, and he had a tough time finding the truck stop again. By that time, Myrtle had already called their son to come and pick her up.
It had actually ended well. Almost too well. Florian had been waiting for the “other shoe” to fall. Getting nailed by a bicycle seemed rather mild and a lot less than he deserved.
I thought of this story as my wife told me about the new refrigerator that’s coming to live at our house even though the old one is still running well. She caught me at a vulnerable time. You see, my old motorcycle was running well, too, when several weeks ago I bought a better one. I got it at a good price. I’d expected it to cost, well, about what it did cost plus the price of the fridge that is now rolling in with it. But like old Florian, I’d been expecting worse, and worse probably would have served me right.
Thank the Lord we don’t get “what’s comin’ to us.” We almost always get so much better than what we deserve. Thank God for his grace!
Curtis Shelburne is pastor of 16th & Ave. D. Church of Christ in Muleshoe. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org