Traversing The Potholes of Life

by Tom Wacaster

This week finds me in India, travelling the back roads to cities and villages in an effort to take the gospel to surrounding areas.  We in America often take the condition of our roads for granted, and assume that most roads in the world are as good as, or perhaps even better than the worst of our bad roads.  I can assure you that even our country roads are far superior to some of the major highways in India.   This is not to say that there are no good roads in India whatsoever, for their government has been actively involved in improving road conditions nationally by building what we here at home might call “Interstate Highways.”  In India they are known as “National Highways.”   Between Kakinada in the state of Andre Pradesh and the nearest National Highway is a distance of about 50 kilometers (give or take a dozen kilometers).   Portions of the highways leading out of Kakinada have been resurfaced in the last couple of years; but there remain some sections where the potholes are large enough to swallow a “laurie” (i.e. 8 wheeler semi).   I usually ride in the back of Nehemiah’s Toyota and when we hit some of the worst of the potholes I get quite a “bounce.”   I often find myself thinking, “If it had not been for that Tata (Indian made economy car) falling into the pothole ahead of us, the jolt would have been much worse.   Our driver does his best to avoid the potholes, weaving here and there, and slamming on the brakes when a hole is so large that it is simply unavoidable.    Oh yes, traversing the potholes in India is quite a challenge; I’m just glad that I’m not the one doing the driving.

Every life has “potholes” that come along from time to time.   One minute you might find yourself cruising down life’s highway, without a care in the world.  All of a sudden here comes a “pothole” that you simply cannot avoid.  You weave here and there, trying your best to avoid it; but to no avail.  Sometimes those “potholes” of life slap us in the face without so much as a simple warning.  Financial loss, betrayal by a close friend or brother in Christ, or even the unexpected and sudden death of a loved one are among these unexpected challenges of life.  All of these can devastate our lives and more often than not, they come upon us unawares.   Try as we may, we simply cannot avoid those things that are bigger than life itself, and that stare us in the face without any way to escape.  This past week someone sent me the following quote from a well known denominational preacher.  I think you will appreciate his sentiments.  Here a few select remarks:

“Life is a series of problems: Either you are in one now, you're just coming out of one, or you're getting ready to go into another one.   The reason for this is that God is more interested in your character than your comfort; God is more interested in making your life holy than He is in making your life happy.   We can be reasonably happy here on earth, but that's not the goal of life. The goal is to grow in character, in Christ likeness…Rather than life being hills and valleys, I believe that it's kind of like two rails on a railroad track, and at all times you have something good and something bad in your life…No matter how good things are in your life, there is always something bad that needs to be worked on.   And no matter how bad things are in your life, there is always something good you can thank God for. You can focus on your purposes, or you can focus on your problems:   If you focus on your problems, you're going into self-centeredness, which is my problem, my issues, my pain.' But one of the easiest ways to get rid of pain is to get your focus off yourself and onto God and others” (Rick Warren).  

If you want to be happy why not try Paul’s inspired advice:  “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honorable, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. The things which ye both learned and received and heard and saw in me, these things do: and the God of peace shall be with you” (Phil. 4:8-9).  You cannot control the circumstances that come along in life any more than you can fill or dodge the potholes in the roads upon which you travel.  How you react to those circumstances is what is important.  And with God’s help, faith in His promises, and a determination to do His will, you can successfully traverse the potholes of life.