Little did I know that in less than an hours time, Robert and I would be sitting on the side of the road in my Prius after a deer flew into our car. And yes, the deer flew into our car.
Here's what happened:
After speaking at East Hill, Robert had another speaking engagement about 15 miles away. We rushed away from services so that we could have enough time to get across the county. As we rolled out of the parking lot, Robert said, "We're making good time." And we were. We had plenty of time to get to the second congregation of the evening. Well, normally we would have had plenty of time....
The last thing I remember before the loud 'thud' was Robert saying this phrase in preparation for his upcoming sermon: "God is a spirit". Then BAM. It felt like a cinder block hit our car (going 50mph). I didn't see it, but Robert said that he saw the deer (that apparently first hit another car going the opposite direction) flying at our car with its head down and its hind end/tail sticking up in the air. Like I said, the deer flew at our vehicle.
Robert had great control of the vehicle (for which I am thankful). He pulled it off to the side of the road and got out to assess the damage. I was going to get out, but my door wouldn't open. I looked out the window and saw a large chunk of plastic (from my car) sitting beside me, so I assumed it was blocking my exit. False. Robert walked around the vehicle and shook his head, and I knew that ol' Julius (my Prius) had taken quite a blow.
Turns out, the deer did quite a number on Julius. As we were examining and trying to figure out what on earth we were going to do, a couple from our congregation pulled up next to us. Thankfully they had decided to go home instead of grabbing something to eat in town. On their way home, they saw us and first thought we had a flat tire. We only wish we did! They saved the day, really, because they took Robert on to his meeting and then brought me back to the vehicle where I waited with Robert's dad while the wrecker and the police officer came. Needless to say, it was quite an ordeal, and completely unexpected (as most accidents are).
All throughout the night last night and especially today upon further reflection, I have been thinking about Robert's sermon from last night. You see, I love my car. From the moment I bought it (in 2010) I have been completely attached to it. After all, what's not to love about 50mpg? And Julius has been good to me, so you can see where I would be really sad last night as I watched him being put onto the wrecker. And I'll admit: after I climbed out of the back seat last night and laid eyes on him for the first time, my immediate reaction was to cry (though I was in such a state of shock that I really couldn't). But here's the thing: Julius is just a car. While we are without our primary vehicle from now until who knows when, it's just a car. It's an earthly possession.
I could get all bent out of the shape over the process. I could get upset and angry and depressed that a lot of our plans are now either going to be cancelled or at the very least inconvenienced. But what was it that Robert said in his sermon last night? Ah yes, Christians are to be joyful.
Joy isn't fleeting like happiness. Happiness is pretty circumstantial is it not? Robert used the illustrations last night that some people will be happy when there's sunshine and sad when there's rain; they will be happy when something good happens to them but sad when something bad happens. Christians, on the other hand, aren't supposed to be that fickle. Our joy comes from Someone who will never disappoint us and Who has promised us everything. Sure, we may "fall into various trials", but James tells us to "consider it all joy" (James 1:2).
Throughout this process I could get irritable with the insurance adjuster for not calling me back or complain that this had to happen at such an inconvenient time or be moody and depressed, but that's not how I'm supposed to handle situations like this. I'm supposed to consider it all joy, because this process can produce something very valuable: patience (James 1:3).
I love my car and I do hope that it will be ok, but I know that every good and perfect gift comes from God (James 1:17). That car isn't even mine; it's on loan from God. He has given us (me, Robert, you, everyone!) so many physical blessings and sometimes they're taken away. That doesn't mean I'm not still blessed, though, because I still have the gifts of redemption and forgiveness (gifts that will never be taken away from me should I continue to live faithfully). So my car is on a wrecker on some lot awaiting an inspection to see just how much damage was done. So I crushed my iPhone case with my Hulk-like strength as soon as I felt the deer hit our car (yes that really happened). Physical blessings can and will be taken away from us, but during those trials and situations, we have the option to choose to be joyful or choose to respond just like the rest of the world. God has called us to live differently (cf Rom.12:1-2). As a chosen generation and His own special people (1 Pet. 2:9), we must look, act, and respond differently than the world so that the world can see Who made the difference in us.
Don't be so attached to "your" stuff that you let it steal your joy when something bad happens to it. Just remember that it isn't yours and it doesn't really matter anyway.
"And my soul shall be joyful in the LORD; it shall rejoice in His salvation." Psalm 35:9Notice that the Psalmist said his soul was joyful in the Lord, not in physical things. Let your soul be joyful in God, and when something happens to all the stuff you have (and we all have SO much stuff, don't we?) it won't deplete your joy in the slightest.
**On an unrelated note, this article was written by a preacher friend of ours, Chris Clevenger, about my wonderful husband. Please go read it! It definitely brought some joy today.