Let’s talk about flat tires and faith

Curtis K. Shelburne

Sometimes I think my funny bone is oddly shaped or maybe dislocated. Oh, it’s definitely there and works at least as well as it should, but it also works in inappropriate moments. And what strikes me as funny doesn’t always grab other folks the same way. For example . . .

I was heading down the highway toward home the other day when I noticed two signs, one almost on top of the other. One was a church sign: “House of Faith.” And just next to it was this sign: “Flats Fixed: Five Dollars.”

Okay, so it’s not a knee-slapper, and maybe the combination of those signs would only produce a grin in a theologically-minded preacher. But it does get a smile out of me. And it does make me think.

I know I have an occasional flat tire and, yes, some “flat” days from time to time. If I had enough faith, would I have fewer flats (flat tires, that is)?

Not to pick on any one church, even though this one does happen to sit right by the tire shop, do the most “faith-full” members of the “House of Faith” need the services of the tire shop next door less often than the same church’s Christmas & Easter bunch who wouldn’t know a tithe from a laundry detergent?

I doubt it. I couldn’t prove it, but I suspect that Christians and non-Christians, not to mention committed Christians and lackadaisical Christians, probably have flat tires in about the same rate and proportions.

And I suspect that the same thing is true for heart disease and stroke, cancer and diabetes, etc. Oh, I am sure that a person who is truly in love with the Lord, who displays the “fruit of the Spirit,” who is not given to fits of anger and resentment, who enjoys all of God’s good blessings but is not a slave to any of them—I suspect that person will reap some physical as well as many, many spiritual benefits. Some natural consequences of living a God-centered life are as positively and physically real as some negative consequences of living a self-centered life.

But we all live in the same fallen world. And people who live in this world have flats.

Yes, you might have a flat because you were where you had no business to be. If folks who drive to X-rated “bookstores” always came away with flat tires, they’d probably go there less often. (Would we “go to” pettiness and bitterness less often if “going there” flattened one of our tires?)

But folks also occasionally pick up nails in hospital parking lots while visiting the sick. And we need to be very careful indeed about the conclusions we draw about the “why’s” of hardship and suffering in our lives and in the lives of the people around us. Bad things do happen at times to “good” people who are full of faith.

Just before Jesus healed a man who had been born blind, His disciples asked, “Who sinned? This man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus’ answer: “Neither.”

Sometimes when you’re traveling through this world, you just pick up a nail.