I don’t know if you’ve seen the “11 Seasons of Indiana” (here they are, for your information):
- Fool’s Spring
- Pot Hole Period
- Second Winter
- Spring of Deception/Pot Hole Season 2
- Third Winter
- Actual Spring/Pot Hole Season 3
- False Autumn
- Second Summer (1 Week)
- Actual Autumn
…but POTHOLE SEASON seems to hang on (like a bad cough) through the entire cycle of seasons in a year.
Potholes; the inevitable result of cold and moisture slowly, insidiously, working its way into the pavement and breaking it apart (there’s a sermon right there!). Some years ago I replaced not one, but TWO tires due to those “satanic land-mines of doom”.
However, since I do believe that all Spiritual Truths have a Physical Metaphor, I looked (as I was standing by the side of the road last year waiting for AAA) for a lesson in the pothole. Actually, I didn’t have to use a lot of imagination. The picture was pretty clear.
POTHOLE SYMBOLISM – If one looks at a Pothole as the inevitable obstruction along the road of life – caused by whatever reason – then some metaphors immediately come to mind:
- Take Potholes seriously. If I hit one, it’s not just hole in the road, it could cause enough damage to hurt me, hurt YOU, AND make it impossible for me to get anywhere down the road. Sometimes I don’t take “pitfalls” seriously enough. Humans make mistakes. Life deals cards that are sometimes a good hand and sometimes not. But if we don’t prepare for obstacles (before they happen), we don’t take the consequences seriously enough and are hit twice as hard. Let’s not get so secure in our protection from God that we forget what life around us is like…and prepare for it. Again, like the Apostle Paul says, “put on the whole armor…SO THAT WHEN THE DAY COMES…”
- I may not be able to prevent them, but I can sometimes avoid them. When it comes to poor choices or “walking close to the edge”, how many pitfalls in life could I avoid if I just avoided getting close? Temptation not in my control is one thing (and, since we know Jesus was tempted, and Jesus didn’t sin, then temptation alone is not a sin), but what I call “tempting temptation” is MY responsibility completely. The Apostle Paul tells us to avoid anything that would tangle us up and cause us to “lose the race”, that’s not always “sin”, it could be anything that slows us down from our primary objective. When possible, avoid using the roads with potholes…WHEN YOU KNOW ABOUT THEM.
- Potholes are easier to see in the daylight. But some folks just don’t understand what the concept. Jesus and the teaching in the letters of Paul, John, and Peter remind us to “walk in the light”, so that we don’t stumble. It seems obvious, but some of us tend to like the danger of living on the edge, pushing the boundaries and find ourselves walking (driving) in the dark…unable to see the approaching danger. Stay in the light.
- Don’t travel too fast. There is a fine line between confidence and recklessness. By not recognizing, ignoring, or not caring about the danger of obstacles/potholes I get complacent and start driving too fast. Although I am personally guilty of driving my body and my life at reckless speeds sometimes, I preach (to myself and others) that to not be “in the moment” is to miss out on “God moments”. I have a “mantra” I try to live up to, and one I preach/teach:
“Every moment has its time.
Every person has their place.
Do not brush away either.
In doing so, you may brush away God’s wish
For you to either ENJOY or BE a miracle.”
I will keep my eye on the ultimate goal, but I also need to consistently be aware of my current surroundings, not just because I’ll miss out on something good, but also so I can recognize obstacles as they approach and see them for what they are.
- Sometimes you’re the follower. Sometimes you’re the leader. This year I found myself suddenly on a busy Indianapolis road that was pockmarked with deep potholes. Having not driven on the road since Autumn I was unaware of the dangers and immediately got behind someone else who seemed to know the way better than I did. I slowed when they slowed, I dodged when they dodged…it helped to have someone in the lead. Later in the week I was driving to a notorious minor stretch of road with at least a dozen holes all together. Behind me, and I mean RIGHT behind me, was a person not wanting to follow the speed limit (in Edgewood where the speed limit is the 11th Commandment) and I came to the place, tapped my brakes and went into the left lane to avoid the dreaded war zone. I looked in my back mirror and saw the car begin to take the opportunity to pass me on the right…they immediately hit the first hole and stopped (unhurt) and slowly followed me the rest of the way, a safer distance behind. Sometimes you follow. Sometimes you lead.
- It helps if you’ve traveled that road before. Through the obstacle courses that are “Pothole Season” in Indiana, there are a few places I have now come to know and can smoothly turn, swerve, and brake, like a strong slalom skier in the Winter Olympics. Because I must travel that road, and have been there before, I know where the pitfalls are…and I avoid them. I’ve heard so often, and sometimes say, “I wouldn’t wish what I went through on my worst enemy, but I wish everyone could be where I am now, on the other side.” Another reason to not brush off even the bad moments is that hitting a pot hole teaches us, strengthens us…not only for ourselves, but to be there for someone else who is traveling down the same road.
Pothole Season isn’t one of my favorite times of year in Indiana, but I CAN say that I’m stronger for it. My prayer is that you avoid the damage done by unavoidable potholes in life, and that you may never be the cause of someone else’s obstacle in life.
Knowing that eventually the potholes will be patched, the roads will be smooth, and all will be well (if only for a short time, till the next winter) also helps me get through. Another lesson of the season is our constant message and lesson:
“Everything will be OK in the end. If it’s not OK, it’s not the end.”
“Weeping may spend the night, but there is joy in the morning.”