Many times in our lives, unexpected events pop up out of nowhere, unnerving us and sending our routines into a tailspin. Some of these sudden “surprises” like a call from an old friend or a gift from a loved one are very welcomed and leave us with a warmed heart and a renewed enthusiasm for life. Most of the time however, it seems the little unforeseen dealings are much less than desirable. Anything from getting an unexpected tax bill to a sudden hailstorm that turns your prizewinning flower garden into a new pile of mulch, life at times just leaves us as riddled as your shredded dahlias. Often times though it’s how we handle the challenges of life that leave us still moving forward or stumbling about, off kilter and half crazed. Here is a perfect example.
Some time ago, two of my sisters and I were visiting with our mom at her house. Mom lived in an older ranch style house that actually betrayed its’ age on the outside but was firmly stuck in the 1970’s on the inside. The living room was large and “L” shaped with an oversized brick fireplace with a poured concrete hearth, three inches thick; that thing was definitely a trip hazard and could have given many a grandchild a good concussion or goose egg contusion. The walls consisted of composite plywood paneling that wrapped a medium brown hue to everything. A multi-colored brown and rust wall to wall shag carpet rolled across the vast floor space. Splotches of orange colored spots dotted across the carpet from decades of the sun kissing the carpet, licking at its’ fibers and discoloring sections.
Even though the kitchen was the “official” gathering place for our family, that evening found the three siblings and their mom conversing in the retro living room. At night, the room always seemed dark regardless of the number of lights turned on, throwing shadows along the walls and corners. That night one of those shadows seemed to move; there in the corner…it moved again. All of a sudden, we heard a whoosh and saw a black fur ball with wings invading our air space; a bat had squeezed in somehow from a very small crack around the doorframe of the front door. Someone screamed “BAT!!” and subsequently ducked as the little night creature once again circled around to make another die bomb maneuver.
Our mom was in her eighties at the time and needed the use of a walker to get around. Mom was in her favorite blue rocking chair in the living room, the right wooden arm of the chair hand rubbed and worn from many years of habitual hand movements. When mom heard “BAT!!”, she exclaimed “BAT!???” and her adrenaline took hold; she proceeded to pick up her walker, carrying it and making a silver streak towards her bedroom, slamming the bedroom door behind her and leaving her adult children behind to fend for themselves.
This wasn’t the first time my parents had had problems with these furry winged night riders so there were designated badminton or “batminton” rackets positioned above the hutch in the kitchen. I felt around the top of the hutch until I found my weapons of choice and made my way back to the living room. I had an impromptu cheering section as my sisters were eagerly awaiting the reluctant “hero” to rid the world of this fearsome beast. Racket firmly in hand, I waited for the dingbat to make another pass so I could end this duel of wits or lack thereof. Suddenly out of the shadows, a small black form came swooping my way; I had no time to think but acted out of instinct. My left-handed backhand seemed to be sufficient as I made contact with the little beast, sending it whirling wildly towards the living room drapes; it stuck on the curtains like it had been made of Velcro. I used both of the rackets, making a bat sandwich to secure the little rodent wannabe and proceeded to release the little rascal back into the wild.
You might be asking yourself, what does this story have to do with my daily problems? Well actually more than you think. You see, just like in the story reflected above, many times people address problems that suddenly crop up very differently.
Some, like our mom in the story, sees a potential problem and their first instinct is to run away from it, ignore it and maybe it will go away, or to close that proverbial bedroom door and heavily breathe that sigh of relief and denial. Most of us know that left unresolved, minor problems quickly become huge problems.
Other folks are fortunate like my sisters in the story; they get to sit back as spectators to observe and watch how someone else handles and resolve a particular problem and hopefully learn something in the process.
However, most of us are or should be in the last category; addressing the problems that arise head on. We need to take whatever it is to the Lord in prayer. He knows our needs better than we do and if we can’t figure out a quick fix and many times we can’t, our Lord will give us the grace and peace to work through it. It wouldn’t really be a bad idea to pray for a little patience during this time?
It must have been the fact that I was the token male that night but I had no choice but to face the problem, in this case, the bat’s unwanted appearance and resolve the crisis so we could continue on with our daily lives. Had I not vacated the little creature from mom’s house but instead just ignored the thing, nobody would have slept that night.
Just something to think about the next time trouble comes along and tries to make a nest in your hair. It is better to have a few moments of anxiety and excitement that ends in resolution than to have…wait for it…bats in your belfry?
Romans 5:3-5 NLT– We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.