Joy in the Journey

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So two days ago I was making my morning commute to work.  I glanced at the fuel gauge as I pulled out of the driveway and knew that it was pretty low.  I don’t have a fancy fuel light that comes on when I need to get gasoline, I just have to estimate how far I can make it on what I have left.  Usually if the needle moves a bit, I can go for another ten or fifteen miles.  An imperfect system, I know.  It jiggled as I backed out of the driveway, so I figured that I could make it to the gas station near my work where the gas was about 12 cents cheaper than by my house.  With an eighteen gallon tank, that’s a savings of $2.16!

Down the road I went, sliding around the slower drivers, making it through the school zones and talking to God.  Usually in the mornings I pray as I drive.  It is a quiet place and I have about a 40 minute commute so I like to start my day laying out my requests before God.

This particular morning I was praying about having joy and contentment in all circumstances. Some of my favorite verses on joy and contentment were running through my mind:

  • James 1:2-3Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance…
  • Philippians 4: 4-7: Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
  • Philippians 4:12:  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.

Just about the time that I thought about being content in every situation, my engine started to sputter.  There is always a moment of panic when your vehicle stops doing what it is supposed to do.  Of course I knew that I was running out of gas, but part of me rebelled at that idea.  Hadn’t I just seen the needle jiggle as I backed out of my driveway?  I knew there was a gas station just up the road on the left hand side, but I didn’t know if I could make it.  I put my truck in neutral and coasted some of the way in the hopes that I could coax a few extra seconds out of the fumes still in the tank.  I came around the corner and there stood the gas station, shining like a beacon on hill.  Unfortunately, there also stood a line of cars; traffic was backed up at the red light so there was no way I was going to make it.

As my truck gasped its final last breath,  I pulled over into the turn lane in the break in the median (the road I was on has two lanes on each side with a median in between.)  I jumped out of the truck, locked the doors, looked both ways and crossed the street, heading for the gas station.

It struck me as funny.  Here I was praying for joy and contentment in all circumstances when my truck ran out of gas.  As I walked up the hill to the gas station, i began thanking God for the opportunity to take a walk on such a sunny and beautiful morning.  I thanked him that I had a little cash in my pocket to go buy a gas can and a gallon of gas.  I thanked him that I broke down within walking distance of a gas station.  I thanked him that I had left a little early that morning and would still make it to work on time.  I thanked him for the blog material and story to tell my class that morning.  I thanked him for his perfect timing and his sense of humor.

Basically, I kept on praying just as I had before my trials and troubles started.

To make a long story short, my savings of $2.18 that I anticipated turned into about $11.70 spent.  I walked to the gas station, bought an $8 gas can because the clerk didn’t have one to loan me, filled it up with a gallon of even more expensive gas than the gas by my house and began the walk of shame back down the hill to my truck.  I threw the now empty gas can back in the truck and started it up.  I pulled back into traffic and went on my merry way to work.  My misadventure really only took about 15 minutes of my time.

So what is the point?

Just this, continue to praise God in all of life’s crazy circumstances.  This time it was my fault, next time it may be someone else’s fault.  It really doesn’t matter.  What matters is that we serve a God that loves us and we should rejoice in good times and bad.  If we allow our circumstances to dictate our moods it makes for some tough sledding.  If we let the joy of the Lord be our strength and trust his guiding hand we will find that his joy is enough to carry us through this crazy thing called life.