MILWAUKEE---Every day has required us to overcome mild obstacles such as torrential rains and a birthday flat tire on the interstate in Chicago's South Side Saturday afternoon. The flat tire irritated me because I expected things to go smoothly and thought we might have to miss much of the game in Milwaukee and the WORLD readers who were waiting for us. All too slowly the advice from Jeremiah Burroughs' The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment---a Puritan book I've recommended to others---kicked in.
The key is to understand that everything is a gift from God and that, since Eden, thorns and thistles hinder everything we do. Starting from an entitlement perspective, all difficulties are undeserved. Starting from an awareness of sin, all good things are undeserved.
Yes, the flat tire delayed us by a couple of hours---after the flimsy spare was on we had to stop at Chicago's Midway Airport and change rental cars---but it happened near a freeway exit and I was able to steer the car off the highway and park it across from a church. We would have been much worse off had the tire blown on a twisting 9 percent grade in West Virginia or at night in Covington, Ky.
As it turned out, we made it to terrific Miller Park just as the Brewers were taking the field---and some semi-fans were still tailgating in the parking lot. The seven WORLD readers with whom we sat---including two Lutheran pastors, two nurses, and two with long careers in the U.S. Postal Service---had all made it in. Again, Susan and I were impressed by how our subscribers make use of their gifts from God.
For example, the mail carrier likes to sort mail for four hours in the morning (and then deliver it in the afternoon) because of the intellectual sustenance he gets on the job: As he sorts, he listens to WORLD podcasts, John Piper and Mark Driscoll sermons, and other MP3s.
What might seem like boring work frees his mind, and his memory of having to fight off cancer 20 years ago helps him to realize that all time is a gift. Besides, the bone marrow transplant he needed led to his meeting the woman who became his wife. Six times they've use vacations to travel to Honduras to help out in medical missions.
We also talked about the Midwestern work ethic---but more next time about the game and the conversation.