The Lord must have been showing off his artistic skills when he made northern Arizona. On a recent trip, we visited the Painted Desert, the Petrified Forest, and the Grand Canyon. Such beauty on a massive scale.
We enjoyed downtown Flagstaff, and even spent some time standing on a corner in Winslow. Then, after a day in Kingman, we decided to drive out to the town of Oatman, on Old Route 66. We heard that the wild burros roaming the desert also walk the streets of Oatman, but we discovered they practically rule the town. In fact, they were the main attraction for many of the visitors. And, rather than being “wild,” they were definitely people-friendly. Even little children were feeding and petting the animals.
Our day-trip was delayed, however, because on the way to Oatman, we hit a pothole. We weren’t going very fast, but the cavity in the pavement was deep, its sharp edges instantly puncturing the tire. Our only option was to pull off to the side, call for a tow truck, and wait . . . and wait . . . and wait.
Sometimes life happens that way. We make our plans and have a schedule to keep, but suddenly something happens and we find ourselves unable to do what we wanted to do. That’s when our automatic response system kicks into gear, and it’s usually negative.
Some people get angry. “Great! Our day is ruined.”
Some become sad or depressed. “Why did this happen to us? This is horrible.”
Others start blaming. “If you were watching where you were going, this wouldn’t have happened. It’s all your fault.”
Or criticizing. “I can’t believe they’d leave a huge pothole like that. They obviously aren’t doing their job.”
When things don’t work out the way we planned, or the way we hoped they would, it’s better to remember the words of Philippians 4:12, “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation” (NIV). That’s hard to do, but so important if we want to maintain a sense of joy and happiness.
If we can train ourselves to stay positive, and if we can discipline ourselves to avoid the automatic negative tendencies of our personalities, then hitting a pothole doesn’t have to ruin our day. Nor does it have to become a point of tension in a relationship. It could actually become a catalyst for discovering a blessing that the Lord might have in mind for us.
Can you imagine Paul and Silas sitting in prison, grumbling, blaming each other or the government, getting depressed, and complaining about the conditions in the jail? No, that’s not what they did. Acts 16:25 tells us that “about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing” (HCSB). Their joyous faith during terrible circumstances led to the jailer’s family putting their faith in Christ.
James 1:2 reminds us to “count it all joy when you fall into various trials” (NKJV), because it’s often through the disappointments of life that the Lord is able to shape us, refine us, and develop our character. And sometimes, he performs a miracle or answers a prayer in the process.
The tow truck finally arrived, the driver put our car on the flatbed, and took us back to Kingman. The repair shop didn’t have the tire we needed, so they had to overnight one from Phoenix. Since it wouldn’t get there til the next day, we rented a car and went to Oatman to see the burros. That evening, we had an unplanned date night. Dinner and a movie in Kingman, Arizona.