This hasn’t been a great couple of years for me. I have had a pretty long streak of unlucky happenings, which isn’t to say there haven’t been some really good parts. On nights like this, however, one tends to focus on the things that have gone wrong over the recent past.
It’s midnight thirty Saturday morning, I’m driving the back way from school to Rocklin, Fried Green Onions is on the stereo, when I hit a pothole, which, upon retrospect, was probably the size of a small shantytown. Pegasus (my car) took the hit pretty hard, and about twenty seconds later I decided I had better check out what Napa County’s irresponsibility in road work had done to the Silver Blur’s shoes. Sure enough, old front-righty was out of commission like Joe Theismann’s leg, flat pretty much to the rim. Wonderful, I thought. At least it is warm out. At this point, I was very happy that I had listened to that still small voice in my head which suggested that I take my headlamp on this increasingly ill-fated trip.
So I’m lying there, in the dirt on the side of the road, using a jack clearly designed by some sadist who is afraid of using too much metal or who can’t stand the idea of a functional tool, when I hear an entirely disagreeable sound. From a short distance away, coyotes begin to wail to one another.
There is a primal fear in every person which you cannot understand until you feel it. Although the fear lasted just a moment, until my logic set in and I was reminded that the likelihood of a pack of coyotes attacking me while I clanged away with my sadist jack on the side of a deserted road in the middle of nowhere was unlikely. Had I heard a cougar scream, there is no doubt in my mind I would be “sleeping” in my car even at this very moment, but being somewhat familiar with coyotes and their timid ways, I felt comfortable continuing my task of removing the rear tire, replacing it with the spare, then removing the damaged front tire and rotating in the old rear tire.
I was soon (that’s relative; it took about 40 minutes, what with all the rabid-coyote-induced-paranoia) finished with my charge and on my way again, although I had to travel much slower because it is unsafe to drive at high speeds with a doughnut (road talk for a spare tire, city folk). As I drove on my way, I was hit with a realization: everything I go through, everything I have gone through, good and bad, can be used and has been used to benefit me. In the past year and a half, I had experienced two separate flat tires before latest one. These were immensely frustrating and, compounded with all the other stuff going on in my life at the time, gave me a very “why me?” kind of feeling. However, as I replaced my spare tire on a virtual island in the middle of the night while defending myself from all sorts of wild animal attacks in near record time this morning, I was grateful for the practice I had been afforded in better circumstances. The same can be said about other negative things that have happened to me: I’m better for the experience. More jaded, perhaps, but there are definitely ways in which I can admit that, if things haven’t already worked out, they soon will.
If I may attempt to draw yet another parallel, the world is going to end, according to some, in t-minus 15 hours. Without getting into an argument about when the world will end, why people keep on trying to predict it or eschatology as it is understood by people who actually research it, it does at least make me think about the end. I am looking forward to it. There are a lot of amazing promises in the Bible, but the best, in my opinion, is Jesus’ promise to take us home with Him. How is that related to my experience today? Well, it was a pretty lousy drive overall, but as I walked through the door, I was relieved that I was back home. I sat with my friend Justin and talked about life and other things of less consequence. In the end, I was reminded that the trip, though it is long and has some potholes that tax money just can’t seem to take care of, at the end we will be where we belong. I hope I belong in Heaven. I guess we’ll see.