Written by Sydney Tabor.
“What you see is what you look for.”
Over the weekend, Harding’s cross country teams traveled to Oklahoma to compete in the long-awaited Great American Championship meet. After narrowly losing titles on both the men’s and women’s sides, we experienced yet another loss on the return trip: the use of our bus. What began as a flat tire quickly turned into a more serious complication. So there we were, burdening the gas station parking lot in the middle-of-nowhere-Oklahoma.
Initially, our teams found the situation ironically funny. We spoke about how memories were being made, and it would be a story to share with future athletes and children, but as hours passed by, this perspective lost its effect. The chairs were cramped, the airflow was feeble at best, and even the skies decided to contribute with a donation of rain and dark clouds. The dismal bus scene was interrupted by frequent trips into the gas station to browse the snack aisles (again) and to talk to the two friendly regulars at the table near the door.
Becoming restless, I focused on the million things on my checklist as our only option was to make the best of the situation. We decided (with the heavy influence of our dead phones) to play games and ask new questions that strengthened our bonds as teammates and friends. A connection was forged with the two locals when they went outstandingly out of their way to stay by our sides to offer assistance. Dinner became an opportunity to meet John, of John’s Bar-B-Q, and to share a laugh about our situation and his gain from it. Well, that turned out to be mutually beneficial — the general consensus was that John’s pork contended with that of Queen Memphis herself.
My mom used the term “divine appointments,” which is the notion that God places people in our lives at the perfect time for a perfect reason. Often, we are so involved in the details of a situation and its inconveniences that we can’t see the forest for the trees. I’m not saying that you should believe everything is good and you need to be happy all the time. Feeling sorry for yourself is normal and healthy. You must give yourself time for that. Feel what you feel. Sit in it. But then, take a deep breath and look out the window of your broken-down bus to see where you’ve landed and what exists for you there.
In Romans 8:28, we read, “In all things, God works for the good of those who love him.” God promises that all things will come together for good. He doesn’t necessarily ensure that everything will always be good. In fact, he tells us trials will come, but God uses them for good.
As our coach says, “Uncomfortable, painful and even hopeless circumstances are not always bad things.” There’s always a bigger purpose, and if you truly believe that obstacles will yield goodness, growth and opportunities, that is what you will find. You will use God’s perfect timing to impact the people you encounter in a tight spot, and you might even be grateful it happened.