I graduated back in good old 1985. We had two choices in high school when it came to classes back then: college prep or business. I chose the business route so right after graduation I went out and got a job as a secretary (now they call us Administrative Assistants – sounds so much fancier). As soon as I secured my first full-time job, I went out and bought a car. It wasn’t just any car though…it was a brand, spanking new 1985 dark blue Pontiac Firebird. Sweet! The little kids in my neighborhood thought it was Night Rider (if you remember that David Hasselhoff show). I can’t believe I don’t have any pictures of it, but I guess back then we didn’t have the convenience of cell phone cameras (smile). I loved that car. There was just one problem. It was a magnet. That’s right…a magnet. It just had a way of finding trouble.
My first job was in downtown Baltimore City. One day as I was driving home, a car cut me off big time. I didn’t hit the car in front of me, but I felt a “bump” from the back. I looked in my rear view mirror, but the car behind me was too far back to be what hit me. I got out of my car in time to see a guy picking up his motorcycle. I asked him if he was hurt and if his bike was damaged. He answered no to both. I told him I was sorry, but I had been cut off and that’s why I slammed on my brakes. I looked to see if my car had damage. Not a scratch…just a tire print from where the motorcycle literally drove up the back of my car. Luckily it just took a little elbow grease to get the rubber and dirt off. Another day driving home, a police officer decided to open his car door just as I was passing him. He tore up the whole front panel of my car, and then tried to say it was my fault! I won the fight and the city paid to have my car fixed.
I left the job in the city and got a job where I had to drive I95 everyday. Sometimes I would need to be to work by 5am. I lived a half hour away so I was on the road really early. This was 21 years ago so the highway wasn’t quite as crazy as it is now, and it was pretty empty that time of morning. I was driving along one day, and saw a tree in the middle of the highway. A tree! I didn’t see it until the last minute because it was so dark outside. I was able to miss most of it, but I did run over one of the branches. It made an awful sound. I got to work and when I got out of my car I smelled burnt wood. I apparently dragged the branch all the way to work with me. I worked in the offices at Costco so I got the tire center guys to put it on the lift. Luckily I didn’t do any damage. Another day on my way home from work on I95 a car in the fast lane lost it’s muffler. Yep…the whole thing. Now when you are going at a high rate of speed and something falls off your car…it bounces. I started wincing because I knew exactly what was going to happen. That muffler bounced from the fast lane over to me in the slow lane. It hit the front of my car, slid up the windshield, and flew off the back. Then there was the time a guy hit me because he was reading the newspaper while driving. Really?! Who does that?! I could go on and on about this car. It was just a magnet for bad luck.
Do you ever find yourself feeling like a magnet? Like everything that can go wrong…does go wrong…or trouble just has a way of finding you. An appliance breaks, your car needs repair, the kids are sick, you get laid off from work, you get bad news about your health, lose a loved one…it can start to feel like you are attracting trouble. This week as Easter approaches I’ve been contemplating Jesus’ suffering. Sometimes as Christians we tend to think that once we become believers that should be it for our troubles. Everything should be peachy keen. The Bible doesn’t promise us that though. What it does promise us is that God is always with us. We get dinged and dented like my car by life’s difficulties. We aren’t perfect. We have flaws. But we are loved anyway. Deeply. In some of my hardest trials, God has revealed Himself to me in the most incredible ways. If I never went through those troubles, I wouldn’t have had those experiences with Him. Now that doesn’t make me say, “Sign me up for some more hardship!” But it does remind me that He will use those times to help me grow into the person He has created me to be.
2 Corinthians 12:9
Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.
How cool is it that we are used in our weakness! We don’t need to be strong and have it all together. We can still be used despite all our dents and dings from life. Just like my car…even though it was a little beat up, it was still reliable transportation for me. It was still very useful and valuable. Jesus suffered on the cross for us so that we could have eternal life with God. The sufferings I experience here on earth are just a blink of an eye compared to the eternal treasures of heaven. It doesn’t mean it will be easy. But I am so thankful that Jesus paved the way for me to have a personal relationship with my Father in heaven. It makes those hardships a little easier having Him by my side.
We need to remember that we have been given a gift. And we need to know that we can claim to be all of these things if we accept Christ:
Jesus died on the cross for us because he loves us. We need to share that love with others…because love matters.