What Costco’s Parking Lot Taught Me About Grace


I love Costco’s parking lot.

Let me be even more specific: I believe that Costco deserves a major award for figuring out the exact right dimensions to provide for each individual parking space.

These parking spots are perfectly constructed for life. They are big enough to actually open car doors without dinging the car next to me. (As a parent of 5 expert door dingers, this is a big deal. Huge.) It also allows me to need less of a “wind up” to park accurately between the yellow lines. I can almost park diagonally in these things and still fit!

In short: these glorious parking spaces are designed for humanity. Not only are they designed for it – they WELCOME it.

I know parking spaces sound like a ridiculous thing to be this excited about. But, the thing is, there isn’t much else in our world today that is that accepting of mistakes. We “cancel” celebrities and other public figures who don’t perfectly live up to our expectations. Instead of responding to mistakes with grace, we react with grudges and gossip. Most days, even the voice inside my own head won’t let me live down the foolish things I think, say and do each day.

But God is different. God has always been different. For example, did you know that the first Tabernacle he had the Israelites build [waaaaaaaaaay back when Moses was around] had a spot for his people’s mistakes? It was called “the place of atonement.” And it wasn’t some random afterthought, bucket-in-the-corner type of thing. It was the cover that sat on the Ark of the Covenant. The place of atonement was the place where God’s presence would dwell and where the priest would meet with God to reconcile the sins of all the people. It was made of pure gold. On top of it rested two cherubim (angels) also made of gold, placed at each end and facing each other with their wings spread out above it. (Exodus 25:17-22)

God made a spot for us to reconcile with him. He lovingly crafted this beautiful, golden space for us to park our imperfections with him and fully realize his love and grace. It wasn’t made with resentment, bitterness or shame. It was made with the same care that he showed when he sent his one and only son to die in our place.

This got me thinking: Do I offer a beautiful, intentional, precious, Costco-sized (actually, GOD-SIZED) space for my people – my friends, family, co-workers, kids, etc – to be loved exactly as they are, even at their worst? Or do I only offer airport sized, door-dinger parking spots plastered with grudge-holding security cameras? Yikes…

Starting today, I’m going to get more intentional about living out a God-sized parking spot attitude towards the people in my life. I’ll do this by using real parking lots as an association tool. Every time I park anywhere, I will pause and think about any compact car parking spots I’m allowing in my heart and confess them to God. Then, I will ask for his help to repaint that spot with room for a semi-truck instead.

Prayer: Dear God, I’m betting you won’t have any [literal] parking spots in Heaven. I’m also certain you won’t have any figurative parking spots there, either, because you’ve promised there will be no more tears, sadness or sin in Heaven. Help me to live with your grace and promise as my focus now here on earth, too. Help me offer others the kind of love you give to me. Amen.

Photo by Stephan Müller: https://www.pexels.com/photo/high-angle-photo-of-vehicles-parked-near-building-753876/

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