Updated: Dec 22, 2021
You know, trials are a lot like manure. “Say what? Trials are a lot like manure?” Yah! Manure stinks right? But when you put manure on plants, it helps make them grow, right?
The same is true with our trials. When going through a trial it stinks right? But, according to the Bible, it says that God can use our trials to help grow us, strengthen us, and mature us.
My story starts when I was 17 years old and had just graduated from high school. It was summertime and was looking forward to going to college in the fall. I had a bright exciting future ahead of me.
Now, my younger brother Larry and I, we were pumped! NO MORE SCHOOL for the summer!!– it was a time to “celebrate, celebrate, dance to the music”. . . forget it, I
guess I’m not here to sing and dance. Anyway, Silver Lake - with its beautiful beaches, incredible sand dunes but, most importantly, giiirls - THAT was our destination. We were going camping. We packed the tent, loaded the car. It was time to par-tay!!!
Even though our intent was to go camping and have some fun, the thought of meeting girls actually was a scary proposition for me. I wasn’t always the confident class leader, honor student, or athlete, that my classmates, teachers, or coaches thought of me. No! Secretly, I was quite shy and self-conscious… always worried about what other people thought of me -- whether they liked me or not.
But, hey, it was time to let go and have some fun. Now my brother and I decided to go cruising one evening. I was the driver and Larry was the navigator. We hadn’t driven far from camp and was about to make a left hand turn when out of the corner of my eye, I spied a car full of beautiful, beautiful. . . babes.
I’d no more put on my “Hey, I’m cool” face, when CRRRASH, tires screeching, metal crushing, glass breaking. My car jolted to an abrupt stop!
Oh nooooo!! What just happened? I can’t believe it you guys. My worst nightmare just came true. I hit a motorcyclist! I swear, I never saw him coming!! In an instant, my life took a drastic detour.
It Was Surreal
It was surreal as I watched the motorcyclist bound off the hood of my car, fly through the air and onto the pavement. I jumped from the car, and raced to the cyclist. “Lord, let him be alive.” I found him on the pavement in a pool of blood. He was breathing, but I was frantic. “Quick! Someone Call 911!”
It seemed like an eternity before the police and ambulance arrived. Though in reality, it had only been a matter of minutes. Time - seemed to stand still. I stood there in shock as the paramedics stabilized the motorcyclist, placed him on a gurney, loaded him into the ambulance, and then sped away with sirens blaring and lights flashing.
I barely remember sitting in the police cruiser as the police questioned me about the accident and all that had happened. With everyone watching me through the windows, I felt like a criminal. I was a basket case; I don’t think I’ve ever felt so alone or afraid in my life.
That Dreaded Phone Call
Of course, I had to make that dreaded phone call. You know the one. The call to tell my parents about what had happened and that the car was totaled. There was no concern like “Randy are you alright” or “It’ll be ok”. Instead, they were stunned into stone cold silence. What’s that all about!
You guys, I’d just graduated from high school. I’m going to college in the fall. I had a bright exciting future ahead of me. But in that brief moment of impact, my life took an unexpected u-turn.
A Real Zombie
The next few weeks, I was a real zombie. Part of the walking dead. I felt numb - zoned out. The rest of the summer was a blur. I kept replaying the events of that evening in my mind. "How did I not see him?" "How could I be so easily distracted?" "How could I be so irresponsible?" The more I replayed the scenes in my mind, the deeper and deeper I fell into a pit of depression. I didn't want to go anywhere. I didn’t want to do anything. I didn’t want to see anyone.”
Of course, the news of my accident spread throughout the community. When I did venture out, people would ask, "Randy, what happened?" I would have to tell the stupid story over and over and over again and I would feel like a stupid loser over and over and over again.
But listen guys, fortunately, God uses time as a way of healing and giving us perspective. And the same was true for me. As time went on, I'd run into people who had also gone through trials, but survived. Some of their stories were even worse than mine. By listening to them, I was able to see that life would eventually get better for me.
I realized that I didn't drive into the motorcyclist on purpose. It was an accident and a terrible one at that. I also realized everyone makes mistakes, some big, some small.
At a Crossroads
I was at a crossroads. Do I choose to beat myself up for the rest of my life for what I had done OR do I choose to forgive myself and learn to grow from it? I chose to forgive myself and to learn and grow from it - and perhaps help others who were struggling with trials that they were going through. And that’s why I wrote this blog.
What Does the Bible Say
So, what does the bible say about how we choose when we’re going through a trial like what I experienced through the motorcycle accident? James 1:2-4 says “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.”
Now this verse doesn’t mean “Wow!” This is great. I just hit a motorcyclist, sent him to the hospital, totaled my car, got ticketed for reckless driving and am being sued for $100,000. According to this verse, it says to consider it pure joy when facing trials of many kinds. Yipee! That isn’t what the verse means. That’s ridiculous.
This is what God is saying through the verse. “I want to show you something through this mess that you’re going through. It will test your faith, but over time, it will strengthen you, mature you and complete you, if you hang in their and learn and grow from it. That’s where the joy comes from.” God wants to use the trials in our lives to help shape us into becoming better people. By the way, if some of you are wondering, the motorcyclist survived with just a broken leg.
So What About You?
So what about you? Are you going through a trial or made a mistake and now you choose to beat yourself up over it day after day. Or are you going to choose to forgive yourself and learn to grow from it? It is a choice?
So when going through a trial, are you going to choose to get bitter or are you going to choose to get better? Are you going to choose to beat yourself up and ask Jesus “Why me?” Or are you going to choose to forgive yourself and ask Jesus “What can I learn from this to help make me a better person?”
Look at Thomas Edison, the inventor of the light bulb. He said, “I haven’t failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that didn’t work.
Look at Abraham Lincoln. He was born into poverty, failed at business twice, lost 8 elections, and had a nervous breakdown. Yet, he become one of the greatest presidents of all time.
Look at the Detroit Lions. OK forget it, that’s a bad example, unless you're from Michigan.
The School of Life
You know in school, your teacher teaches you lessons and then gives you a test. But in the School of Life, it’s usually the opposite. God gives us a test that teaches us a life lesson. God uses the tests and trials in our lives to help shape us into becoming the people of God that he created to be.
Be sure to check out my podcast "Trials are like Manure?"