“Papaw, can we ride on a bumpy road?” Such was the strange request coming from the backseat of my car.
It originated from my 3-year-old granddaughter, whom we were babysitting one Saturday. She asked that question as we were going to pick up a pizza for our lunch.
I tried to explain to her that there weren’t any especially bumpy roads between our house and the pizza restaurant. With great disappointment in her voice, she responded, “But I like to ride on bumpy roads.”
As I explored the subject further with my granddaughter, and later with her mother, I began to understand the reason for her request. It seems there is a rather rough road that my daughter often uses as a cut-through route when she travels a certain direction.
Our grandkids look forward to riding over that stretch of bumpy road. They open their mouths, vocalizing some sort of monotone humming sound. But as they hit those bumps in the road, their voices vacillate in what they find to be a humorous manner.
So for our grandkids, a bumpy road is viewed as an opportunity to enjoy this game they play with their voices.
I’ll confess that I don’t share my granddaughter’s affection for bumpy roads. I would rather avoid them. Not only are they physically uncomfortable for us sojourners, but they aren’t very good for our vehicles either. So normally I avoid rough roads and am pleased to see when one gets repaved into a smoother surface.
We tend to look at bumpy roads in life the same way. We don’t like them and we avoid them as much as possible. However, we all inevitably encounter those rough patches at times as we journey through life. You know the kind of bumps and potholes I’m talking about — financial hardships, physical problems, family difficulties, along with a host of other challenges that can make life uncomfortable and tough.
I’m not going to suggest to you that we should seek out such bumps in life. I don’t know about you, but they seem to find me just fine on a fairly regular basis without my having to go looking for them.
However, we could probably have a better attitude about those bumpy roads when we do find ourselves on one. Instead of constantly emphasizing the negative aspects of the experience and complaining about the discomfort, what if we focused more on the opportunity for adventure and the excitement of it all?
After all, some of the same people who complain about driving on a bumpy road pay good money to ride a rollercoaster that jerks them all over creation. Sometimes it’s just a matter of perspective.
When we encounter one of those rough patches in life, let’s joyfully anticipate the prospect of how God is going to see us through it.
It’s going to be exciting to experience God’s help, protection and grace as we travel this way. Let’s be ready to watch with wonder at how God fulfills His promise to work all things together for good to those who love Him (Romans 8:28). Let’s look ahead for those new doors He’s going to open as those old ones have closed behind us.
I’m not ignoring the fact that those bumpy roads can be hard, painful and full of sorrow. But neither should we overlook the truth that those same roads can be a source of stronger faith, fresh manifestations of God’s power and love, and new adventures in walking with God.
So when the road gets rough, let’s hang on and look forward to a thrilling ride with the Lord.
The Rev. Tony W. Elder is pastor of Wesley Community Fellowship Church. He can be reached at 770-483-3405 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.