God doesn’t work according to human logic. He doesn’t respond to human impatience. He doesn’t pander to human emotional meltdowns. Does this make Him cruel? Not at all. Let me share briefly something that the Holy Spirit was reminding me of this morning during my own “object lesson” time with Him.
Anyone who drives in and out of a big city for work understands traffic congestion. It’s the bane of my existence here in the honkytonk capital of the US. Every morning as I drive into work, there is an accident, or someone is pulled off to the side of the road with mechanical problems… if they can even do that. It’s double jeopardy here because about 1/2 of my commute on the freeway is “in construction” (a permanent state of being in Nashville) which means that there IS no “side of the road” to pull off to, if you can. And let’s be honest here… I hate when people wreck or break down on the freeway because it adds time to my commute … it’s not that I’m cold-hearted, but it’s a pain, right? That said, I still feel compassion for them and usually send up a quick prayer that God steps in to help and gets some glory out of it.
This morning it was my turn to be that guy. But here is where I see God’s pragmatic protection and provision kick in, and where my object lesson began. I was flying on the freeway in the fast lane happy that I hadn’t hit traffic, which is a rarity. Singing, tapping my hands on the steering wheel… when suddenly my car begins to shake. I’m pretty serious about the mechanical health of my vehicle, so the slightest wobble is grounds for concern… luckily for me, no traffic. So I pulled off the freeway and joined the ranks of those who have to change a flat tire in business casual attire.
The old Peter would have freaked out and gotten mad at God and asked Him why He didn’t prevent it from happening. Why it had to happen on the freeway. Why He didn’t warn me. Why I didn’t notice it (I’m meticulous about stuff like that). The old me would have been angry and cussing and fist-shaking. The old me would have done nothing but grumble and complain thinking that Jehovah God was being capricious, like one of the ancient Roman or Greek gods.
And you might be like that too. Let me show you how taking a second to divorce yourself from emotional responses can help. God gives us the ability to do that. He also gives us the ability to look at situations objectively. This is part of “Girding up the loins of your mind” that the bible talks about.
Here are the facts, then there’s the object lesson:
- My tire blew out at 80mph on the freeway. Not “ran out of air”, but destroyed. I got to the side of the road without incident, and my rim wasn’t the slightest bit bent.
- I was ABLE to pull off to the side of the road, because it happened in one of the few places where there isn’t construction.
- I didn’t cause a wreck
- I didn’t get stuck in the middle of the fast lane.
- I didn’t have to call a tow truck
- Traffic was MIRACULOUSLY light this morning
- I was able to fix it and get back on the freeway, get to the next exit, turn around and got home safely.
This is what it cost me: A destroyed pair of dress shoes (no clue how it happened), really dirty hands and forearms, about 30 min inconvenience, and maybe a few hundred dollars of new tires.
See, our attitudes and responses to life are ours to control. God gives us a spirit of self-control as one of the “fruits of the Spirit” He develops in us as part of His commitment to change us and make us whole beings. But He does expect us to take authority over our own minds and bodies and “step up” to the challenge by His strength.
Could God have allowed that not to happen? Absolutely. But He’s a pragmatic, practical God who provides and protects. See, in this world, stuff breaks down. It wears out. Is that God’s fault? No. Was He being negligent somehow in allowing that to happen to me? Not remotely. God controlled the situation, protecting me and the people around me. He didn’t allow remotely close to a worst-case scenario like I’ve seen a few times now. He also gave me a protected opportunity to grow spiritually by choosing my attitude, choosing to conform my responses to how Jesus would want me to respond. He protected me and I recognize that.
And I was grateful. In the moment, thankfully. I was able to say “Thank you God for protecting me and providing for me. This is an inconvenience but it could have been the very thing that saved me from a much worse scenario just a bit further down the road.” And that’s not rationalization on my part. God is faithful. He DOES work for good in our lives. But He partners with us and expects us to respond the way His Son Jesus would… in perfect trust and faith that what He allows is always for our good, working out a good purpose and plan.
So when you run into various trials, frustrations, etc in your day to day, remember that what God allows is ALWAYS for good, because He is faithful and keeps His word. And we can honor Him by choosing to see the good in the trial rather than see the inconvenience or hurt of it. God is honored when we take what we could see as a bad thing, and honor Him in and through it.
Don’t let circumstances steal your joy today. Don’t let people rob you of your smile. Don’t let frustration rob you of your patience. Know that God loves you, He is working out things for good for you. Trust Him when it doesn’t make sense, and honor Him in your gratitude, worship, praise and your interactions with people. Love selflessly, give generously, laugh boisterously and let people see that God is real THROUGH you, your life and your responses.
Be blessed this morning in the name of Jesus.