When I was working in Palm Springs, California, last week, a taxi driver named Joe related a humorous experience that really got me thinking. He told me about a man who got into his cab about 1:00 P.M. and began to instruct him to go here and there. When he would arrive at the destination, the man would simply sit in the cab, meter running.
After a couple of hours, Joe told him, “You’ve run up 80 dollars on the meter. I’ll have to get some money from you if you’re going to keep this cab.” Without hesitation, the man shelled out 150 dollars.
As the day went on, the man began to share with his cab driver that it was important they keep moving, as the CIA was following them. His story became even more bizarre as the day went on.
Finally, at around 9:00, Joe received the instructions to deliver the man to his own apartment. As he received the payment of 425 dollars more, Joe commented, “This was a quite expensive day for you, wasn’t it?”
“Oh, no, not at all!” he replied. “I was scheduled to go to a lawyer and a shrink today. This was a bargain!”
First, my heart goes out to the passenger whose paranoia kept him on the move like that. However, it struck me that we need to take the time more often to do what he did. When we’re tempted to complain about the inconvenience or discomfort of a situation, maybe we should just consider the alternative.
Consider these examples.
Your teenage daughter isn’t performing the way you think she should in school. When you try to talk with her about it, she seems unconcerned and speaks to you with disrespect. Yes, you are right to be concerned, and you have some real problems to address. But what if you were the mother in my office the other day whose 15-year-old was killed instantly in a head-on with a drunk driver? Consider being thankful that your daughter is with you, warts, potential, and all.
The alarm clock jangles rudely. You groan as you roll over and fumble for it. You worked long hours yesterday, and today doesn’t look much better. Consider the alternative. What if you didn’t have a job that pays your bills and gives you an opportunity to use the talents God has given you?
Do you sometimes get impatient when you can’t buy something you want, when you want it? Do you ever look around you and see others with so much more, feeling sorry for yourself? Stop! Go with me to visit the family I met in the cardboard shack in South Africa. Better, let’s drive a little out of our comfortable, routine routes in our own community. There are folks on our doorsteps who know what it’s like to ration food and savor one meager meal a day. I’ll be most of you are like me. When I don’t get the things I want, I may be inconvenienced, but my life and well-being are not at stake.
The Bible says, “In all things, give thanks.” Not for all things, give thanks, but in all things. One of the ways to do this is to take the time to put your current inconvenience in perspective.
Once I saw a two-frame cartoon that made I still remember years later. A man sitting alone under a tree on a very small island said, “All alone on this deserted island. This is just awful. What could be worse?” Frame two. A flock of gulls approaches. The two lead gulls are conversing: “Henry, the whole flock is terribly sick from eating all those green apples. I see a tree up ahead. Let’s rest there.”
Think you have it bad? Is it really a catastrophe, or is it simply an inconvenience? Most often, it could be so much worse. Consider the alternative!
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