These days when I travel to work in the morning, it is dark. REAL dark. The sun hasn't even hinted at making an appearance in the sky and the only sources of light are the stars and the Christmas lights on the houses I pass. They're pretty but they don't provide much light.
Living in Central Wisconsin, most of us veteran commuters have trained our eyes to be on the lookout for deer. Despite my awareness, I have nailed quite a few in my driving career. Secretly? I think deer are trained and then released by the owners of auto body shops across the country as a means of increasing revenue. Well, it seems that way anyway.
Earlier this week as I was traveling to work something unique happened. Well, what happened wasn't all that unique I guess. Something ran out in front of my car. That's more "normal" than I'd like. But WHAT ran out in front of my car was - a coyote.
Maybe it's just me but I imagine coyotes living out west someplace . . . like Wyoming or someplace with sagebrush and cactus, probably chasing a road runner, not living in Wisconsin. Yet we seem to have a thriving population here!
I swerved as soon as I saw the thing. I hit him but it don't think I caused any damage, to either the coyote or to my car. Maybe I hit his tail. We both lived. No harm, no foul.
But that event got me thinking about how some things in this world can really surprise us. They come running at us out of the darkness without warning. And if we're not careful, if we're not prepared, those events, the surprises in life, can cause a lot of damage.
Several months ago a student at our high school took his own life. No one expected that. No one was prepared for dealing with the aftermath of that tragedy. How could we be? Is there anything we can do to get ready for stuff like that?
There IS one thing you can do that will help you in a time of need, whenever that need might arise. It's a simple thing really. Come to a saving faith in Jesus Christ. That sounds simple enough, yet millions of people never do it. They never surrender their hearts and minds to the one person who can help them in their time of need. He is the cure when the doctor says, "It's terminal."
God is a GREAT comforter. He can do things we humans can't. God can place us in situations we never even dreamed of, all to provide for our every need.
Last night at youth group I saw one of the adult leaders outside in the parking lot before the evening's events got underway. She looked like she needed a hug so I gave her one. But I was busy getting ready for things and I couldn't devote as much time to her as she probably needed. But God took care of that!
Later that evening one of the students got up and left the room looking upset. One of her friends followed. A short time later that adult leader friend I mentioned earlier, just happened to leave the room as well. After a few minutes passed I went to check on the missing students. I found the three of them outside the main room - in each others arms. The adult leader was comforting the student, and God was comforting the adult leader THROUGH the student. He had it all taken care of so I left Him alone with them.
We can all try to be prepared for what comes at us in this life. We can put money in the bank for a rainy day, we can stockpile cans of food or bottles of water for an emergency, we can buy a generator for the possibility of a power failure. But only God can provide the things we truly need. Love, compassion, mercy & grace.
The best way we can prepare ourselves for those sudden surprises that run out in front of us in the dark is to let Jesus do the driving. Like Carrie Underwood sang, "Jesus, take the wheel."
We all go through pain and suffering in this life. "In this life you will have trouble" (John 16:33). But with God by our side, guiding us through our troubled waters, this life is a WHOLE lot easier!
"That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”
He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.
He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” - Mark 4:35-41