Recently I was leaving my office for the day to go and pick up my family for a long-anticipated family event. I hadn’t traveled very far when I noticed a student I recognized walking toward the building on campus in which my office is located. This was a young lady we had met last year in her home country on our Asian travels. During her first year at Purdue, the Lord opened numerous doors to build a strong relationship with her.
Several conflicting thoughts swirled around in my head: Should I stop and say hello? She is probably coming to say goodbye for the summer. But I am in a hurry and I don’t want to be late! What if she has a problem and needs help?!
I ended up turning around and saying “hello.” She explained that she was headed for our offices because she needed help with her bike: Her lock was frozen; it just wouldn’t open, and she needed to take her bike to the place where she would be storing it over the summer. We went back to the bike shop at our office and got a can of WD40 and headed off to where her bike was located to see if we could get her lock to open.
Finding a parking place on campus that day was the first challenge. It was the next-to-last day of finals, and parking places were at a premium. We were able to find a place within a short walk of where her bike was locked up. As we walked I tried to keep my mind fixed on the task at hand and not on what I had envisioned myself doing at that moment (heading for home to pick up my family to leave town).
I asked her to summarize some of the things she had learned outside of the classroom during her first year at Purdue. She talked about having participated in a variety of events related to Christian student organizations and how she had learned things about Christianity she had never thought about before. She reminded me about having seen the video on Resurrection Sunday about Jesus meeting two of His followers on the road to Emmaus following his resurrection (Luke 24:13-35) and how that helped her understand things she had been learning from the Old Testament. She also spoke excitedly about the joy she had witnessed on Resurrection Sunday during the worship service at Kossuth. I was able to encourage her to continue learning about these things when she returns to Purdue in August.
We reached her bike and I began spraying large quantities of WD40 into the lock, praying silently that the Lord would cause it to unfreeze quickly! I put the key into the lock and tried it. Nothing happened. It was still stuck! I continued to spray the oil into the lock and continued to wiggle the key back and forth. Still no movement. I prayed some more...and kept spraying...and kept wiggling the key back and forth (praying that it wouldn’t break off in the lock!). After about 10 minutes of this, the lock finally opened!
I don’t know who was happier, the student or me. She exclaimed enthusiastically that she had been lucky to have met me that morning. I gently reminded her that it was not luck or coincidence that we had met. To which she inquisitively responded, “God had us meet today?” I told her I believed this was an appointment the Lord had fixed for us, even though it hadn’t appeared on my “To Do” list for that day!
As I continued on with the things that I had planned for that particular day, I thought about the blessing of this unexpected (or was it unwanted?!) encounter, I was thinking about the problems we often face in life. The words of James 1:2-4 came to mind: “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
The trials of our lives are like the frozen lock. They often make us feel like we are stuck; with no apparent solution when we desperately need one. The grace we need is like the oil on the frozen lock...sometimes what we think should be enough simply isn’t. We need to apply more...and allow more time to pass. Over time the grace that is applied in abundance produces its good and faithful work: often not when (and sometimes not what!) we expected.
May God continue to grow us in grace and in the knowledge of Jesus which allows us to count it all joy when we meet trials of various kinds. Be sure to be sharing your stories of the good and faithful work the Lord is doing in your life for His glory through the various trials that are taking place in your life!