Everyone is entitled to a really good day--or so I have been told. My really good day came way back in November, 1973. I was almost twenty, a reluctant, on again off again student at the University of Louisville, and a lanky, shaggy-haired bass guitarist in a local rock and roll band. Richard Nixon was president, the war in Vietnam was winding down, and Ford Motor Company had recently introduced the all new Mustang II sports coupe. What a car!
A baby blue Mustang had caught my eye, so I made the dealer an offer one brisk Saturday afternoon. Being only twenty, of course, and having a limited credit rating, the dealer was unable to make the delivery until the bank opened the following Monday. And so I anxiously waited for a green light from the loan officer.
But the blue Mustang was not the only beauty that had captured my fancy. I had just met a little red-haired girl named Susan and, by golly, she was even prettier than the new Ford! When it comes to red heads, some fellows can take them or leave them, but not me! I was hopelessly lost each time I gazed upon those lovely auburn locks. Not that I thought she would go out with me--talk about wishful thinking! In my estimation, red-haired Susan out-classed a lanky, shaggy looking bass guitarist--with or without a baby blue Mustang.
Late Monday afternoon, however, the Ford dealership telephoned saying my credit had been approved and the Mustang was ready for delivery. But that was only the beginning of my joy, for almost as soon as that call had been received, Susan the red-haired girl called asking me to dinner! I could scarcely believe my good fortune--a new car and a new girlfriend all on the same day! This was the best day of my life!
But a really good day, like any other day, must come to an end. A few weeks later, pretty red-haired Susan ditched me for our band's lead guitarist and, up until then, my best friend. What a rummy situation! And shortly after that, a reckless driver side-swiped my brand new, heavily financed, baby blue Mustang. I had a broken heart and my poor car had a crumpled fender. The Ford and I had both seen better days.
As a new Christian, I approached the faith naively thinking God would smooth my paths and make each day better than the day before. I unrealistically expected Him to bless my plans and dutifully zap any fool who would dare stand in my way. Indeed, He has blessed many of my plans and the Christian walk has proven far more exciting and satisfying than I ever imagined, but I've picked up a few stones in my shoe along the way, too. God has not smoothed all my paths and, frankly, there are days in which He seems a million miles away. Admittedly, I have been sorely disappointed in God asking over and over again, "Why? Why, Lord? Why?"
What do we expect from God? Ease? Comfort? Cadillacs from Heaven? Just as sparks from a bonfire fly upward, so are we born to trouble (Job 5: 7). Trouble is the fire that cleanses the dross from our lives; just as intense heat transforms scrap iron into stainless steel, tribulation turns lazy pew potatoes into super saints. Even church history teaches that eleven of the twelve apostles died martyrs' deaths. And we honestly think we deserve better?
If a baseball player's uniform is spotlessly clean by the ninth inning, it is safe to assume he has spent the previous eight innings sitting on the bench. Likewise, the cavalier Christian will never bear the scars and wounds like those worn by Jesus.
Dr. Michael Blunk is a staff writer for an apologetics ministry and serves full time as a chaplain with Wayside Christian Mission. You may contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org