Join to Rebecca in the YouVersion Bible app, Unexpected: Five Women in the Lineage of Jesus 
Remote Photo 1
March 23, 2024


7 min read

I was so mad I could spit. And I had no one to blame but myself.

Why had I done it—or rather, not done it?

Let me back up and explain what might prove inexplicable.

My sister and her husband had just gone home after their visit with us from out of state. She had inadvertently taken the remote to our garage when she left. Wishing to rectify the situation quickly, she used an overnight service to return it.

Pro: It arrived the very next day after she mailed it.

Con: Whoever delivered it did not put it on my front door step but simply threw it in the middle of my driveway—right in front of the center bay (mine) of my three-car garage. As I turned into my spot, I saw the package. Rather than get out like a sane person and remove it, I followed the idiotic voice in my head that said, “Just pull in. Your wheels will miss it.”

Exactly 3 seconds later I heard a dismaying “crunch” as my front left wheel hit the remote dead on. Hoping against hope that my foolishness had not just cost me $65 (and the trouble of programming a new remote), I got out of my vehicle and inspected the damage. Not a total ruin. The three buttons on the remote still worked. The plastic casing (which had developed a sharp protrusion) and metal clip (which had come off) would just need some TLC to return—more or less—to their original state. Nothing a little filing and super-gluing couldn’t handle.

But I didn’t have super glue and would have to order some.

I also didn’t have an answer for why I didn’t expend a little bit of energy to avoid what was, comparatively, a whole lot of trouble. Images of me doing the right thing and avoiding the entire scenario played damningly in my head, and the refrain, “Why? Why? Why?” echoed over and over inside. This situation felt like a grenade had been lobbed at me and exploded—a weapon successfully deployed in what sometimes seems like the war of attrition that is my life.

On the one hand, I am a special needs parent raising an 11-year-old autistic son. While he is a beautiful, joyous, smart, and delightful child in so many ways, he is also a costly child. He has verbal deficits that make it hard to communicate. He has repetitive behaviors that are loud and long-lasting. He polices certain things in our home (doors, the washer and dryer, items of food on his plate) to keep them just so. With him, there’s not much room for negotiation, and when we do manage a compromise, it takes so much energy that one is tempted to let the matter slide the next time rather than reinforce the change that is required.

On the other hand, there are my own, draining issues. I am a sensitive person, emotionally, physically, spiritually. I am a woman who suffered a traumatic childhood that has left her with a nasty habit of catastrophic thinking (i.e., always expecting the worst to happen). Bright lights, loud sounds, and situations suggestive of danger up ahead trigger me. While I am grateful for the vast resources that I have to support my mental and physical struggles, I often find myself treading water. It’s hard to just relax and float in the placid lake of the now, to allow the simple but profound blessings it presents to hold me up. And I so often worry about how God is regarding me in any given situation. With favor? Annoyance? Does He love me when I can’t find myself particularly lovable? Will He act on my behalf, and quickly?

All this to say that it doesn’t take much to make something small loom larger than it really is in my mind. What amazes me is that I always do have the energy for worrying, standing guard over my life in a state of hyper-vigilance. For me, it is so much easier to believe the dark whisperings in my ears than to try to imagine things working out just fine—to my advantage, even. Years of living with a superstar spouse who protects and provides for me, who constantly reflects God’s image, hasn’t changed this mental bent, I am sorry to say. Neither has being part of several faith-based communities where I have been fed like a well-tended sheep led out to green pastures and still waters. I also think about the fine medical care I have always received whenever and wherever I have needed it. Appreciated but not absorbed at the core of my being in terms of doubt.

All these things help me fight against my anxieties, but not fully sever them at the root. I don’t know if I ever will this side of heaven.

Damaging my remote brings to mind a story from the Bible, in which a person acts in haste and must face dire consequences because of it. King Saul, famous for being Israel’s first monarch, emerges as a tragic figure in his narrative for two main reasons. First, he is installed as king because Israel tells God—through His prophet Samuel—that they want to be like other nations, not a lone theocracy led by an invisible deity they cannot see. At God’s behest, Samuel anoints Saul king, but the crown never rests easily upon his head. More than once he makes choices which are impulsive rather than wait on God to show him what to do.

One such choice appears in 1 Samuel 13. The Israelites find themselves in fierce conflict with the Philistines, who outnumber them and have superior weaponry. Although Samuel specifically instructs his protégé to wait seven days until he arrives to perform a pre-battle, ritual sacrifice, Saul gets antsy when his forces begin to disband in fear and the prophet has not yet shown up at the appointed time. So he takes the animals devoted to God and offers them up himself. When Samuel arrives on the scene and demands an explanation, the beleaguered king replies, “When I saw that the people were scattering…and that you did not come…I forced myself and offered the burnt offering” (1 Sam 13:11,12).

Samuel’s reply: “You have done foolishly. You have not kept the command of the Lord your God…now your kingdom shall not continue. The Lord has sought out a man after His own heart…to be prince over His people” ( 1 Sam 13:13, 14).

As I learned with my remote, poor, split-second choices seem to be part of the human condition. We are going to make them. The question is: can we somehow learn from them by asking God to turn their results around? Is there a blessing to be had from acknowledging the foolishness of one’s decision head-on rather than trying to hide or excuse it?

For Saul, his attempts in this episode and in others, he tries to explain away his mistakes (see 1 Sam 15) rather than own them. Personally, I believe he went to his grave never fully understanding why things went so wrong during his reign. During his last attempt to gain help from Samuel, Saul employs a medium to summon the deceased prophet to ask how he might defeat the Philistines (still a recurrent problem). As this occult practice was strictly forbidden in Israel, Saul gets nothing from the disturbed spirit of Samuel but a rebuke and prophecy that the Philistines will indeed defeat Israel (see 1 Sam 28).

I feel sorry for Saul, I really do. And that is mainly because I know so well what it feels like to be forced into a corner without any options. To feel like you lack the creativity, inspiration, strength, and—oh, yes—HOPE—to move forward with faith. And as I lay the text of my own life alongside this biblical text, the latter shines a light on the former that I did not see before.

I did not fail to move the remote because I was acting dumb.

I failed to do it because I was acting depleted.

Being tired is something I believe God understands, as His Son is so often characterized in the gospel stories as being drained by all His teaching and healing among the multitudes.

I think the better response I could have given that fateful day would have been to extend myself some forgiveness rather than berate myself for being a fool. I’ve got my own persistent Philistines to contend with, and I shouldn’t underestimate the toll they take on me. I also shouldn’t underestimate God’s willingness to step in and help each and every time that I call out to Him. That’s the whole point of the Incarnation—to know Another stood where you stand and loves you, rather than condemns you.

The story of the damaged remote has a happy ending. A few days later my brother came to visit me and brought me a remote I had given him a while back, one in pristine condition. Being an engineer, he was not at all intimidated by the broken state of the crushed one, and he told me he had plenty of super glue at his house.

The mistake with one sibling being supplanted by grace involving another—God most certainly was trying to speak to me through this small but meaningful event in my life. It makes me want to give Him more room to maneuver like this by turning my face heavenward when I’ve goofed up. It makes me want to be quicker to admit my failings, and quicker to start looking for His responses to them. And I am convinced that the more we share our stories with each other, the more encouraged we will be.

And did you catch the humor of my situation? God responded to my impulsive action by giving me a device to better control what happens next time. That’s what remotes do—control. And that’s what grace does, gives us the opportunity to open to the light.



Thank You for protecting us from harsh consequences that we don’t anticipate. You do it all the time.

Help us turn to You more often and more quickly in our depletion.

Send agents of grace to swap out what is mangled for what is good.

And help us remember to say “Thanks!” when You do. We don’t want to forget or take for granted the care that You offer Your beleaguered sheep.

In Your Holy Name, Amen.














The apostle Paul knew a thing or two about the war of attrition that goes on between our ears. He struggled fiercely to act out what he knew to be right and also



My brother coming and giving me his perfect remote in place of my broken one.


Devoted to ideas of darkness and entropy.


My final answer: I wasn’t being dumb, I was being depleted.


Question: how do we fill ourselves up again in the places where we are empty?


Think about Saul offering sacrifice when he knew darn well he wasn’t supposed to.