Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. [James 1:2-4 (NIV)
When we lived in the north, we often walked a public path that meandered along the shoreline of a nearby lake. Running through both public and private properties, it crossed the front lawns of historic lakefront estates and stunning homes with beautifully landscaped yards and gardens. One such home placed a lakeside bench for tired walkers that said, “Sit-Pray-Mediate-Enjoy” under a sign that read, “You can trust me. Love, God.” A delightful white fence delineated their private property from the public path. Decorated with whimsey, “Expect a Miracle” was the message on the gate and assorted Bible verses and words of wisdom were painted on the fence’s horizontal slats.
I laughed at actress Lynn Redgrave’s observation that, “God always has another custard pie up his sleeve.” Having grown up watching the Three Stooges, Laurel and Hardy, and Soupy Sales, I knew exactly what she meant! Custard pies are the unplanned quirky episodes of life—the glitches, bugs, hitches, curve balls, obstructions, setbacks, and snags that seem to arise when we least expect them. While they’re not necessarily earth-shattering or tragic, they upset the apple cart of our lives and can throw us off our game!
Sometimes those custard pies come at us the way candy on a conveyor belt did in an old I Love Lucy episode called “Job Switching.” Working in a candy factory, Lucy and Ethel’s job seemed simple enough: wrap candies as they came down the line. All went well until the line sped up and the candies came faster and faster. Knowing they’d be fired if any unwrapped candy reached the packing room, the women frantically grabbed the candies off the belt and ended up stuffing them in their mouths, hats, and blouses. “I think we’re fighting a losing game,” admitted Lucy.
Most of us can handle one or two custard pies at a time but, when they come flying at us as fast as the candy came to Lucy and Ethel, we feel like we’re playing a losing game and our faith is challenged! As Ms. Redgrave said, it does seem like God has an endless supply of custard pies up his sleeve. For many of us, the last twenty months have been a speeding conveyor belt of those pies and, with months of disappointments, complications, delays, and uncertainty, little went according to our expectations or plans. Before God tosses another pie my way, I wish He’d give me a warning so I could duck!
Nevertheless, as Christians, we know that those pies are part of God’s greater plan for us. Life is unpredictable at best and we need to accept its capriciousness with proper perspective, a positive outlook, a sense of humor, and faith in the One who is in charge. In the meantime, I’ll follow the advice painted by that home owner. Knowing that God loves me, I’ll trust in Him and expect a miracle (or two). I’ll sit, pray, meditate, and enjoy what God has put before me—even if it’s another custard pie!
Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful. [Joshua J. Marine]