By David Hegg
Two weeks ago, I was flying down the road, knowing the stop lights were timed to reward drivers adhering to the 50-mph limit.
Deep in thought, I failed to recognize that ongoing road construction had left a deep horizontal ravine with an accompanying elevated pavement edge on the other side. I hit both with speed and the ensuing shock to my suspension and my neck left me infuriated at the numbskulls responsible.
How dare the city, and the road crew, and everyone else I could think of, put such an obstacle in the road I drive every day! I even started wondering if those responsible might be the target of lawsuits on the part of car owners whose front ends would require re-alignment.
Then it hit me! I had become just like those I often shake my head and smile at. You know them. They’re the ones who believe life should always be magical. They have apps for everything, expect the universe to cater to their every need, consider convenience in all things to be a birthright, and squeal at even the slightest bump in the road. They are so sure their lives are meant to be comfortable, satisfying, and self-gratifying they have no category for disappointment, life interruptions, sweat and tragedy.
And, if any of these despicable things invade their dreamland, they are absolutely positive someone else is to blame.
But such a view of life is neither reasonable nor beneficial. Here’s the deal. Every life, like every road, has a significant number of bumps, and many of them are deep and dangerous. We live in a world that is broken in so many ways and for so many reasons. To drive the road of life thinking the pavement will always be smooth is to approach it with childish dreams rather than a reasonable rationality.
And what dreams can never do is prepare you adequately to persevere through all the obstacles and challenges you will inevitably face.
Perseverance, the courage and toughness necessary to get going when the going gets tough is fading fast in our culture. Here’s why: When you view life as owing you comfort, convenience and excitement at every turn, you won’t consider it an advantage to build the character necessary to meet tragedy head-on and overcome it.
Further, you won’t consider it wise to prepare yourself for unmet expectations, unfair treatment, ungrateful friends and an unjust society.
Simply put, life can be wonderful, but it will always have bumps along the way, and many will demand preparation and perseverance.
Sadly, my story doesn’t end there.
Yes, I hit the bumps and went off, and then slapped myself around enough to realize it was my lack of attention, not the inattention of the road crew that was the real problem. Hundreds of other cars had made the same journey with far better results because they were prepared for the bumps.
But not me. In fact, just one day later, on the same road, I hit the same obstacles at speed but this time it brought a chuckle. Not only do we need to prepare to respond maturely to the bumps of life, we also need to learn from them!
Face it, life is resourceful, creative and relentless. Every day it presents obstacles to our well-being. That means we must develop great character, patience, rational emotional balance, and courage, in order to face each day prepared to respond well to whatever it throws at us.
For me, this means having a model to follow, learn from and imitate. I call him Jesus Christ, and it is in denying self, taking up the cross, and following him that my life starts making sense, and making a difference.
The lessons of the bumpy road are simple, but far from easy. Prepare for the inevitable bumps in the road. Learn from the bumps you hit. And help those around you to do the same.
David Hegg is senior pastor of Grace Baptist Church and a Santa Clarita resident.“Ethically Speaking” appears Sundays.