It’d been an enjoyable day. After an inspiring worship service, my friend and I headed to the beach, taking in the sun and surf while discussing our goals and dreams. Once the sun set, we headed to a local eatery where we dined alfresco style. After dinner we were heading over to my friend’s car. The night air was so sweet that I was drove with my sunroof open and windows down. We were at a stoplight, listening to sweet melodies dance across the night air when BAM! the driver behind us slammed into my vehicle.
Dazed, I saw the driver pulling over to the right. I put on my blinker and followed suit, mentally agreeing that it’d be best to move our vehicles from the active travel lanes. I was still pulling over when the driver took off!
I’d love to tell you that I’m such a mature Christian that I merely said a compassionate prayer for the poor soul as he blew past me. That is far from the truth. I took off to catch this guy! The offending driver was darting in and out of traffic. He make a hard right on a side street, just as the traffic was slowing for another stoplight. I turned onto parallel street and followed him. After a couple more turns, he managed to lose me. Disgusted, I returned to the original scene of the accident to call the police. The more I thought about it, the more I realized me actually catching up to that driver might’ve escalated into a far more serious situation. I started counting my blessings – we were both relatively ok, the car was still driveable, and so on.
Life can hit us just like that driver did – hard and unexpectedly. Our reaction to life’s curve balls don’t always immediately reflect our relationship with God. Just as I did with that errant driver, we are sometimes in pursuit of the right thing for the wrong reasons. We want immediate justice and restoration. We want to gain without losing anything. We want peace and satisfaction without any discomfort or sacrifice. The good news is, even when we’re initially thrown off-kilter, the more we seek God, the easier it becomes to get back on track. Hosea 12:6 says “But you must return to your God; maintain love and justice, and wait for your God always.” The truth is, I didn’t see that accident coming, but God did. Nothing takes God by surprise. Psalm 139:16 says “Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them.” More importantly, God works all things together for our good. Not just the pleasant, fun, and ego-boosting things – but all things – the pain, humiliation, rejection, and disappointment. The valleys as well as the peaks. Romans 8:28 says “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” God wants us to surrender and entrust every aspect of our lives to him. Despite our past or present condition, the Lord’s desire is to be in close relationship with us. Not because He needs us, but because we need Him. Psalm 86:15 says “But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.” God wants us to be our very best selves. He presents us with countless opportunities through everyday events to invite Him into situations that burden our hearts. 1 Peter 5:6-7 says “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”
When we pray, we introduce God into the equation. It’s the best algorithm ever. Only God can take our tragedy and transform it into victory. Prayer is conversation with God. It is not a speech nor recitation but it is an act of humility and courage. In this cynical world, it’s easy to focus on struggles and suffering, rejecting notions of hope and faith. Praying goes against the grain of our limited concepts of security, yet it is as natural as breathing. The truth is, there is no certainty nor security outside of God’s everlasting promises. Psalm 103:17 says “But the lovingkindness of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, And His righteousness to children’s children,” Once we enter into conversation through prayer, asking God to cleanse our hearts, order our steps, grant us wisdom, favor, healing, and protection, we operate with a level of peace that surpasses all understanding. Philippians 4:7 says “And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”