Sometimes without warning we can find ourselves thrown into unfamiliar territory and our usual defensive maneuvers are either unavailable or don’t seem to be working. Obviously, that isn’t some divine epiphany that nobody ever thought of before, but God sent a couple of fresh reminders of it my way recently, and it seems like He might be nudging me to mention them. The first one came in the form of a car accident that involved one of our beloved grandsons.
The two questions that people generally tend to ask about an accident are, “Was anybody hurt?” and “Whose fault was it?” The first answer is, thankfully, no one was injured. Regarding the second question, we’re biased so we’ll leave that one alone (… although there was a missing road sign that should have indicated a literal 90 degree right turn ahead – on a road he’d never driven on before). But regardless of how that one turns out, there were other factors that do contribute to our grandson’s defense. For instance, it was late at night when the accident happened, and the rainy weather affected his visibility and made the road look darker. The other factor … well, that was the road itself.
Unacknowledged Benefits ~
Truth is, the country roads here in Middle Tennessee are different from most. They twist and turn in ways that don’t seem to make any sense, and most don’t have protective guardrails where you might expect them, nor do many of them have decent (if any) shoulders. But in case you wonder, yes, they do have drop-offs. People might criticize our back roads, but they actually provide spiritual benefits … like the asset they represent for our local evangelists. Even preachers with a mediocre delivery can still put the fear of God in the younger crowd with dramatic stories of wrecks on these roads. Kids can easily envision being suddenly snatched away with no warning and finding themselves face to face with the God who knows exactly what they did at youth camp two summers ago.
But I digress. The principle I want to emphasize is so obvious it seems unworthy of specific attention. On the other hand, it can also be so obvious we cease to notice it. My objective is to simply offer a reminder that however stable life seems to be at any point, that can change in an instant. Without warning, forces can overtake us, and nothing in our arsenal of available resources at the moment can stop them.
Didn’t See It Coming ~
In addition to that reminder from the car accident, there was one other illustration that came along last week as my wife and I were preparing to head off to bed. I was leaving the kitchen and about to tell our household’s administrative assistant, “Alexa,” to turn on the bedroom light. I got as far as her name and then my mind just seemed to stop working. (I know, some of you are wondering what’s new or different about that?) I was apparently experiencing something called a TIA. Some people refer to it as a mini-stroke, but that’s not actually what it is. TIA is an acronym for Transient Ischemic Attack, but from the way it affected me at the time, I felt like it should have actually meant Total Idiot Arrival.
In an instant, I couldn’t even clearly envision what I wanted to say, much less get the words out. There was such a total inability to communicate rationally, I could have been a stand-in for Joe Biden at a Presidential press conference or could have subbed for any of those “woke” educators or their partners in politics and the media these days. There was nothing in my repertoire of experiences or training that was of any use at all during the episode. It was a fresh reminder from God of a truth we know well, but can easily forget. That is, our lives are not our own:
Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s. (1 Corinthians 6:19–20 NKJV)
A Different Perspective ~
The good news is that after a brief hospital stay and lots of tests and scans later, it appears that I’m in very good health overall. There are obstructions in both vertebral arteries that the vascular specialists will be keeping an eye on, but thankfully, I’m not mentally impaired. So, there goes any chance of landing an upper level position in academia. Another helpful thing that God did with this episode was to remind us that all of our lives are lived in uncharted territory. We might envision the scenery looking familiar as we try to peer into the future, but it’s an illusion we create based on the roads we’ve traveled so far. The truth is that in spite of our occasional “deja-vu” feelings, every single minute of every day we live is territory we haven’t experienced before. We ride the razor edge we call “now” with no guarantees about the duration of the trip or about how, where, or when everything around us might change. In light of that, God has an admonition that we need to take seriously. He said:
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that. (James 4:13–15 NKJV)
God doesn’t provide each of us with some kind of detailed map or spiritual GPS to reveal His will for us. In most cases, He does it incrementally, a bit at a time. He delights to unveil His plans for us in ways that enhance His individual relationship with us. That’s why James directs us to include Him and submit our plans and intentions to His authority, because He knows what lies ahead. The Apostle Paul adds an intriguing perspective to the issue that works in conjunction with what James had to say. Paul passionately declares:
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Romans 12:1–2 NKJV)
A Path to Victory Revealed ~
Preparing for the twists and turns we can’t see coming and discovering the wonderful things that God has planned for us begins by admitting that the future holds obstacles we can’t overcome and challenges beyond our abilities. The path to victory now and forever begins by submitting ourselves to Him. Once He takes ownership of these “vehicles” we live in, our welfare is in His hands and the control mechanisms belong to Him.
It is when we surrender our bodies and lives to Him that we then begin to prove, i.e. test and discover, the will of God. It is in our partnership with Him that we find that His will for us is good. It is in allowing Him to guide us through the trials that we find that His way is acceptable, and perfect.
So, welcome to another day of exploring uncharted territory. May God make the exciting adventure before us fruitful for His Kingdom – and more fulfilling than we could have imagined.
“TWEETABLES” ~ Click to tweet and share from the pull quotes below. Each one links directly back to this article through Twitter . . .
- “Every single minute of every day we live is territory we haven’t experienced before. We ride the razor edge we call “now” with no guarantees about the duration of the trip or about how, where, or when, everything around us might change.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “Preparing for the twists and turns we can’t see coming and discovering the wonderful things that God has planned for us begins by admitting that the future holds obstacles we can’t overcome and challenges beyond our abilities.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “The path to victory now and forever begins by submitting ourselves to God. Once He takes ownership of these “vehicles” we live in, our welfare is in His hands and the control mechanisms belong to Him.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “It is when we surrender our bodies and lives to Him that we then begin to prove, i.e. to test and discover, the will of God. It is in our partnership with Him that we find that His will for us is good. It is in allowing Him to guide us through the trials that we find that His way is acceptable and perfect.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “It is when we surrender our bodies and lives to Him that we then begin to prove, i.e. to test and discover, the will of God . . . It is in allowing Him to guide us through the trials that we find that His way is acceptable and perfect.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
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So many of us live under the delusion that we are somehow in control, Ron. We aren’t, but we know who is. Let us lean on the Lord in all things, not depending upon our own understanding!
That must have been a disconcerting episode for you! I’m glad you’ve been checked out and have been cleared as healthy overall. Things don’t get easier as we age, that’s for sure. But we can make it through with flying colors when we ask God to walk beside us.
Blessings, Ron, and keep feeling better!!! (Glad, too, that your grandson wasn’t injured!)
Hearing from you always makes my day brighter, Martha. The encouragement you send goes farther than you might think it does. It’s not the kind of thing that dissipates once I’ve read your comments. It strengthens my heart through out the day and beyond. When God advocates unity among us, He isn’t just talking about some broad, general, impersonal concept. He’s talking about a sense that there are other real people out there who share something deep and profoundly personal with you. It’s a living example of the connection we have with the One who offered up His life in order to be able to share life with us forever. It’s a pretty special reality, and so are you.
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Amen my friend. Tomorrow is not promised, so be sure to consider what you are about to do today. Perhaps this is why I endeavor before I retire to bed each night to do a “self-cleaning”. I look in the mirror and replay my day. More often than I care to admit, I find myself asking forgiveness for something I impulsively said or did, asking God to help me grow out of those “childish” actions. Reconciling my imperfect self with God each night before bedtime is perhaps my equivalent to the “Now I lay be down to sleep…” prayer many of us once taught our children.
I am saddened to learn of your TIA. I’ve had a couple of those, and they can scare the bejeebers out of you. It’s happened in mid-speech one time and like you in the middle of doing something. It’s as though time stops, and our brain slips into neutral for a moment. I’m so grateful for the good health report, but I do pray you take this as a warning sign my friend. Sounds like you’ve done just that.
Knowing that our next breath is not guaranteed should be something that we all keep in mind. We should each consider how we might use your episodic adventure as a reminder of how we should apply the knowledge that this next thing we are about to do or say could very well be the last thing we do or say in this life. The filter would/should be, “Is it God-honoring?” If it isn’t, then why are we going to do it. Often, the last thing we do is what we’re most remembered for. We humans have a “what have you done for me lately?” mindset. I’m sure glad that God doesn’t. Once we’re His, we’re His, but I sure pray each day that I please Him much more often than I disappoint Him.
Please know that my prayers for your health will be more fervent as it seems you’re having too much fun visiting doctors of late.
Of all the things in my life that I’m happy to discover that I get to share with you, the TIA thing isn’t one of them, but like you, I can clearly see the benefit that it brings with it. For me, it’s not so much a warning as it is a helpful reminder that every breath and every moment is a gift from God I didn’t earn. We’re recording our legacy with every word we speak or write and every action we take, whether anyone else is watching or not. Some of those reminders God sends our way are not like a trip to the County Fair or a helping of our favorite dish, but they can be an effective defense against slipping into the notion that just because we can’t see Him, God isn’t really involved in my day to day life. I’m grateful and continually amazed at how many ways God uses you to encourage Diane and me and to admonish us to do better. You don’t just export beef from the Cross-Dubya, you disburse the kind of nourishment we get to indulge in more than once. God bless you for lifting us up again this morning and our prayers for you and Mrs. Diane continue to have a special focus on your health and strength and her upcoming surgery. Now, we’re off to see what’s waiting out there in today’s uncharted territory. 🙂
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