When I was a kid, I liked taking risks. Well, sometimes I liked taking risks. Other times, I was the furthest thing from a risk-taker there could be. I really liked following rules and having things go the way they were planned to, but I guess that admiration for order faded away when I got older. Still, I always enjoyed a few risks from time to time.
My family and I lived in Brussels, Belgium, for a while in my Elementary school years, and one time, my buddy and I decided it’d be a good idea to play a game called Chicken. For those of you who don’t know, Chicken is a game usually played by someone jumping into the street in front of a speeding car and seeing who would get out of the way first: the car or the person. My buddy and I were clearly not dumb enough to play that version of the game, but the concept was enticing to us. So, we came up with our own version, consisting of one of us on a bike peddling full speed at the other. Helmets, of course, were optional; so we opted out of those to increase the risk factor. Every time, one of us would move out of the way at the last second and avoid collision. To us, it was absolutely brilliant. We played a few rounds and our hypothesis was confirmed: best game ever. After a while, I was standing in the street and my buddy was coming straight at me. Every time we’d played, one of us would jump or turn in the other direction at the very last second, but it was never determined beforehand who it would be; one of us just moved. This time, I was certain he was going to move at the last second- and he was also certain that I was going to move at the last second. Before I knew it, I was flat on my back with tire marks straight down my body, no kidding. I had been slammed into the ground and run completely over by my buddy. I don’t know how I reacted as a kid, but nowadays I probably would’ve just laughed about it and gotten back up. My guess, however, is that I probably cried a ton when it happened.
Sometimes, this is exactly how life hits us. One day we’re doing fine, and the next day Jesus knocks us down with something crazy. Like when my family and I took a vacation to Orlando, and my Dad unexpectedly ended up in the hospital with three blood clots. Or, when my Dad was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer in the first place. I mean, no one could’ve seen that coming. Except God, right?
There’s something a friend told me once that I think about when life hits me like a crazy biker. My buddy said, “Has it ever occurred to you that nothing has ever suddenly occurred to God?” That’s a pretty comforting thought, right? On our worst days, when life throws the worst trainwrecks at us, God isn’t surprised or caught off guard. The thing about serving the Creator of the Universe is that He’s always one step ahead of us. In theory, that should be super comforting. That thought alone should be able to put all our worries to rest for good. But honestly, a lot of times it just doesn’t. And more often than I like to admit, I doubt God, and I doubt His plan.
Have you ever put together an elaborate puzzle only to find that you’re missing a few pieces at the very end? I feel like life experiences and lessons sometimes look like puzzle pieces, and God is piecing together something beautiful and intricate with them. And He is, for sure. But some days I wake up, and it’s like that kid ran me over on his bike again, and I can’t help but ask God where in the world stage 4 cancer fits into my puzzle-piece World. To me, it looks like there must be pieces missing, something I can’t see yet. I mean, that picture seemed like it was looking pretty good already. I like writing encouraging stuff about God and how much His love rocks, but I don’t feel like I’m super loved all the time, and some days I’m just confused about life. I think we all feel that way from time to time. But it’s important to continue trusting in the Lord; that’s what faith is all about.
There is something slightly futile in questioning the Creator of the Universe. He knows exactly what He’s doing. In the book of Romans, Paul asks his friends to remind themselves that we are all mere humans, and we have no right to question God. Paul says that humans are like unfinished pieces of clay, and we are asking the Potter, our Creator, what he’s doing to us.
Honestly, the best thing about getting hit by a bike though was that it sucked, so I learned my lesson. And it hurt a lot, and I learned to fear speeding objects and standing in the middle of the road on a whim. It seems like a normal guy wouldn’t need to be taught that first to understand the concept. I do that kind of thing all the time. I am not joking when I tell you that a few years after being run over by a bike, I decided to play Chicken again, and I got run over by a bike in the exact same way. Seriously; I am an idiot.
God knows that we’re really stubborn and don’t learn well. But how often do we realize our own stubbornness? How often, when we’re in the midst of a storm, can we look around and see what God’s teaching us? How often can we engrave a lesson on our hearts before making the same mistake twice?
Here’s a question I can’t take lightly: what am I learning from my Dad’s cancer that I can engrave into my heart long-term? Maybe it’s that life has to be lived to the fullest while we have the chance, or maybe I’m learning that looking to God in the hard times makes it way easier in the good times. Or possibly I’m just learning to lean hard into God, and not on my own understanding. Are there storms in your life you can learn from permanently, so you don’t have to be run over by a crazy bike again? In case you were wondering, after the second time I lost to a bike, I declared the game of Chicken my permanent enemy, and I won’t try it anytime soon.
I’ll leave you with this: everything in life happens for a reason. God has a perfect plan for us, and each broken way and every beautiful moment has a purpose. I don’t know most of the reasons for stuff happening, but neither you nor I are in a place to question our great Potter. So, try to learn what God’s teaching you in the moment. Try to trust in the One who knows you inside and out, and have confidence that He is in control.