For about a year I worked for General Mills up in Hannibal, MO. It was a fifty mile drive each way, almost every day of the week. When I worked there, the people in charge didn’t believe in giving the maintenance guys much time off. If the production lines didn’t run on the weekends we repaired them. The good news is that as much as I didn’t like this job, it was a ton better than the job I had before that. I was at work all the time. I had no life other than driving an hour to and from work and work. Outside of that was a little time for sleeping and that was about it.
So one afternoon I was heading north on Highway 61, heading to the big factory that smelled like soup, taco shells and tomatoes cooking. The drive was usually uneventful, except for those times the weather was bad, but on this day the weather was perfect. I was my usual zombie-like self as I cruised up the highway. I passed one small town on my journey I approached a semi. He was going slower than my nice and easy pace of between seventy and seventy-five mph, so I got over in the left lane and started around him. I was next to the trailer when his blinker came on and he immediately started into my lane. There was no way I could accelerate around him and no time to slow down and get behind him. He had no idea I was there. There was no shoulder on my side of the road, only a median between me and the oncoming lanes. I honked my horn but the puny little tooter on my car couldn’t be heard by the driver of the massive truck. I had one choice. I had to leave the road and I turned into the grass.
I don’t know if you have ever watched a NASCAR race and seen a car drive into the grass. It seems to speed up, the steering wheel doesn’t appear to do much and the brakes don’t have much effect. It looks like a scary thing. I can honestly say it is a scary thing. When I got that car on the grass I was basically out of control. I made modest movements with the wheel and the results were unpredictable. I was terrified that I was going to go out of control and go speeding into the traffic coming towards me, but I managed to get the car going in a straight line down the middle of the median.
Just as I thought I would be able to ride this thing out I realized that I was heading for a crossing. I was going too fast to hit the sign posts and concrete in front of me. I started working the brakes, searching for a place where they provided resistance to the ground beneath me without losing complete traction.
The truck driver had realized what he had done and pulled over. The traffic behind me had all slowed down, probably to be able to watch and see what my outcome would be. I am glad they did because that opened the highway up for me. As I neared the crossing between the northbound and southbound lanes I took the chance that I had slowed the car down enough to turn it and maintain control. I eased it within inches of a metal signpost and came back onto the pavement.
For a few seconds there was a lot of noise as dirt and grass came out of the treads on my tires and flew into the body of my car, but shortly the sound of rubber on the road was the same old familiar tune I was accustomed to.
I had survived. I still wanted to fight the truck driver but I survived. What seemed like a sure tragedy faded into just another close call.
Those few seconds looked like the end or the beginning of a long recovery from something really bad. It turns out that I handled it well. I handled the part afterward the worst, I think I screamed and yelled at that truck driver for the next ten miles down the road. When I got to work I had pretty much lost my voice.
The out of control parts of my life can last for seconds or days or weeks. Sometimes I only have time to react. I think those times are the easiest. Sometimes I have lots of time to think. That is dangerous stuff. I think about all the “what if’s” and the “what if’s” that go along with all of those “what if’s” and pretty soon I am “what iffing” the end of life as we know it. I can “what if” myself from bad fishing to “what if the government has poisoned all the fish?” This exercise never fixes any problem. It just keeps me looking for all the possibilities of a myriad of new problems that will probably never occur. Why is it so much easier to focus on the problem than on the solution?
1 Peter 4:7 The end of the world is coming soon. Therefore, be earnest and disciplined in your prayers. 8 Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay. 10 God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. 11 Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen.
Isn’t it interesting that Peter says the end of the world is coming soon and then tells the church to pray, show deep love, share what we have and use the gifts He has given us? I don’t know exactly why Peter uses the phrase that “the end of the world is coming” but I do know that none of my upcoming problems are on that kind of scale. If Peter’s instructions would suffice for the end of the world then they surely must be good enough for the trials I am going through. He certainly doesn’t tell anyone to “what if” the end of the world to death. He pushes them (and me) into Godly action. He gives us the solution to the problem.
Satan lives in our “what if’s”. God doesn’t work in that world. He works in the solution.
God, help me focus on the things you have called me to do today. Help me let go of my need to look at all the possibilities of how this trial can grow worse and to get a firm grasp on the things You have told me to do. Amen.