God is constantly teaching us lessons and providing us opportunities to grow, isn’t He? When I step back from the details and busyness of everyday life and try to look at things with a wider perspective, I see the Lord and know that He is with me.
A few weeks back Suzy was in an accident with our car. Approaching a work zone where 2 lanes became one, she looked aside for a brief second and when her foot slipped and wasn’t able to break in time, our car struck the back of a large, orange dump-truck. Apparently the driver stepped out of his vehicle for a few seconds, saw that his truck was fine, and drove off.
My day ended up getting consumed in needing to deal with the fallout. After receiving the call from Suzy around 1:15 I got a ride to the site of the accident. We called our insurance, hunted for a tow-truck, and once we found one that was available I rode with him to the mechanic. On the way back I sat with him through a lot of traffic. He dropped me off in the town where the crash had taken place. I paid him and got on a bus to the next town. In the next town I had to hire a truck to drive me back to Calacalí. Arriving home in the rain at 6:45pm, I was pretty beat.
I’m reading a book that looks in detail at each of Christ’s disciples. Having just finished the chapter on Peter, the topic and idea of leadership is fresh on my mind. The author talks about the raw leadership potential that Peter had, but he also focuses a great deal on the characteristics Jesus constantly worked on developing in Peter. He contrasts the innate quality Peter had of ‘a passion to be personally involved’ with those he Christ needed to impress upon him: restraint, humility, and love (among others).
Leaders are often people with extreme passion and personalities. They say it’s easier to tone down a fanatic than to resurrect a corpse. However, those with passion and strong or extreme opinions or emotions can be just that: extreme. Anger, unkind impulsive words, and ‘my way or the highway’ attitudes can easily emerge from these personalities. So Christ took the strong personality and passion of Peter and modeled to him how to lead with love, humility, and restraint. He also knew Peter would have many experiences throughout his life to teach him how to embody these characteristics: and he would fail. Jesus was there to see him fail many times. But he’d also learn through these experiences. And eventually we see him teaching others these same traits as he writes letters that are now part of the New Testament.
I don’t think many people have seen it, but deep inside of me I have the potential to respond to situations in uncontrolled anger... I know I have a ‘temper’ inside of me and have worked really hard for most of my life to control it and never let it get the best of me or rear its ugly head and hurt others. Situations like this really put it to the test. I hate that our car was damaged so badly and that we had to be without a vehicle for over two weeks. It’s hard for me when my day gets totally thrown off and I have to deal with fallout from a situation that I wish hadn’t happened. Traffic stinks. And maybe the worst part for me was that from the day the accident took place to the day we got the car back, I was basically the one who had to make all the phone calls, run from place to place, communicate (in spanish) between the mechanic and our insurance agency, and deal with all of this even though I wasn’t even in the car when the accident took place!
I’m happy to say I never exploded. Suzy can tell you that I never spoke an unkind word to her, nor did I complain about all I had to do after the accident. I’m happy to say that from the outside, I handled everything with patience and grace. But I’ll be vulnerable and let you know that inside, all of this was difficult for me.
So I zoom out and look at all of this from God’s perspective. First of all, what a tiny ‘blip’ on the radar this is in terms of a lifetime... or eternity, for that matter. But just like Peter, God provides me with experiences and opportunities to grow, to learn, and to test who I am: as a husband, a leader, a Believer. God is with us. And though this situation was by no means fun, I am learning through it; and I have been especially blessed by the members of the body who have helped us in navigating through by lending a hand in the details of daily life in the midst of inconvenience. So I thank God for being with us and wanting us to grow and turn our eyes to Him in times of difficulty.