Cherry Bomb – dfj 5/9/11
A friend once told me this story about her first car. It reminds me that we often don’t know what’s good for us. And yet sometimes we, by God’s grace, find out.
It was already ten years old when it was passed down to her, and ten was like a hundred when you were in your teens and were considering the age of the car you’re driving. And besides being ancient, it wasn’t pretty – it had a hatchback and the paint was a faded, oxidized red. She nicknamed it the “Cherry Bomb,” primarily because of its original red color, and (maybe) secondly, because of she hoped it would “blow up” one day and be gone.
She knew that her classmates would ridicule the Cherry Bomb – many of them were driving cars years newer and several shades less faded – and for a time they did. But even as she developed an affection for it, her friends began to take a perverse pride in being seen riding in the “Bomb”. During early classes they’d ask her, “Hey can I ride shotgun in the Cherry Bomb at lunch?” Part of the entertainment value was derived from the occasional unexpected opening of the hatchback when the car braked to a stop… or when one of the back seats would fold over on an unsuspecting passenger. Her car, her “trial”, became a blessing that she never would have understood when it first crashed into her life.
Sometimes we avoid the different or unsightly without knowing the cherished memories and lessons that might be spawned from our otherwise neglected choices. God sometimes sets before us opportunities that we perceive as obstacles and therefore, as we choose to circumnavigate them, we miss the chance to experience those off-color gems that we’ll later treasure… after the trial is over. And it’s fun having milestones to mark our lives.
When the Israelites crossed the Jordan River into the Promised Land, a representative of each of the twelve tribes was told to take a stone out of the riverbed. When everyone was across, God’s people stacked the stones as a remembrance of God’s mercy and blessing. They would remember the ugliness of forty years of wandering outside the Promised Land. Not exactly the vehicle that they had wanted forty years before, but the one that God had given them to travel from rebellion, ingratitude and failure to thankfulness, obedience and success. It probably took a number of years of distance to be able to look back on the gradual winnowing of the original refugees from Egypt and realize that God had loved them and led them and had provided for them the whole time. Sometimes we don’t get what we want according to our schedule, but on God’s schedule nothing’s the wrong size, or age, or color, and our job is to use the events (and the “Cherry Bombs”) of life to glorify and praise Him – hopefully sooner rather than later. “I called shotgun!”