The car was perfect. It was a Jeep, just like Jane wanted. It was the right price. The owner of the place was a Christian named Angel, and when we went there I saw a wonderful plaque on his wall about trusting God and being thankful. And the model of the Jeep? It was a Liberty! And we loved it. What could be wrong? EVERYTHING!! The day before we went to pick it up, one of the workers called to tell us, “Angel wanted me to call you and let you know it has a “rebuilt” title. What?! That is the same as a salvage title, which means it was in a wreck. Jane would have never pursued it in the first place if she’d known that. She had waited two weeks in excited anticipation and now this? I cried myself to sleep that night and cried again a little bit when I told the guys at work the next day.
The guys told me God had something better for us and I knew it was true but wow, it still hurt. In a few days I realized we had learned a lot from the experience. It was kind of astronomical as far as our new knowledge on buying cars and the details of what we needed to know up front. In the end, we refused to look at the whole thing as a bad experience, but rather, a training exercise.
Our “training experience” was only two weeks, thank God. I have friends who have endured much greater. One friend, Larry, had his heart set on being a fire fighter. He took classes in college that were recommended, and then he went into the training itself. All together it was three years. Then at the end, they did a physical exam and found a heart murmur. Larry told me: “They couldn’t accept me because of the policies they have. According to their policies I would be a liability.”
WOW, how devastating was that?! But Larry went on to be very successful in two more careers. When I asked him about it, he said, “God had other plans for me and I’m still being blessed.” Larry is one of the kindest people I know. He carries no bitterness about what he went through.
The Apostle Paul had everything going for him. Everything he was and everything he did, looked so good to him. By the flesh, he was at the top of his game. He tells the Philippians:
“If anyone else thinks that he has reason to be confident in the flesh [that is, in his own efforts to achieve salvation], I have far more: circumcised when I was eight days old, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews [an exemplary Hebrew];
“As to the [observance of the] Law, a Pharisee; as to my zeal [for Jewish tradition], a persecutor of the church; and as to righteousness [supposed right living] which [my fellow Jews believe] is in the Law, I proved myself blameless” (Phil.3:4-6 AMP).
But the Lord had other ideas for Paul. Paul was literally kicked off his high horse.
“As he traveled he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him [displaying the glory and majesty of Christ]; and he fell to the ground.
“And heard a voice [from heaven] saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting and oppressing Me?” And Saul said, “Who are You, Lord?” And He answered, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting” (Acts 9:3-5 AMP).
Paul was blinded when he fell and was blind for the next three days. The men who were with him took him by the hand to Damascus [no longer on his high horse], and he started on his new career. He was baptized and began learning from a simple man, Ananias. What he had gathered from his previous “career,” he was able to use later on, but the ultimate job God had for him, was so much greater than before. Instead of marking Christians for execution, now he was bringing people into God’s family. One of the things the Lord gave him to do was to write letters. Those words are what form a major part of the New Testament today.
Jane’s experience with the car taught us what things to look for and we know that a much better car is in her near future. Larry’s experience of being denied the career he sought, helped to make him the strong and faithful Christian he is today.
We learn to be grateful for those past experiences. The lessons we accumulate make us valuable assets to others in God’s family for the future. And we have already been assured by God that our future gets brighter and brighter as we grow in Him.
(painting by Caravaggio 1601)
EXCITING SUMMERTIME STORIES: