We are still watching “Heartland” reruns on UpTV.  We recently went through what seemed like an entire season in which one of the sub-plots was the pending engagement of Ty and Amy.  Early in the season Ty bought the ring and had an evening set up for the proposal.  Then Amy said something that made Ty think that she was not interested in being engaged at that time.  While he stepped out to reconsider, she accidently found the ring in a pocket of his jacket next to his ringing cell phone.  Thinking Amy wanted her independence, Ty put proposing in the back of his mind.  Meanwhile Amy, knowing of the ring, wondered why Ty was having second thoughts.
Eventually both Jack and Lu (and probably others) became aware of the situation.  Ty was now uncertain of both himself and Amy.  Amy was wondering what she was doing wrong (or what was wrong with Ty).  The others kept looking for ways to force the issue forward.  Ty set up another time to ask Amy, but this time the ring went missing!  Eventually a third party (hey, there, Georgie girl!) turns the ring over to Amy … who is caught by Ty as she tries to put it in his sock drawer.  Having the issue out in the open, however, is not the solution.  Amy wants the proposal event to be special.  Ty’s casually saying, “Hey, let’s get married,” doesn’t quite cut it.  And, of course, the episode where they finally become engaged … I missed!  The whole thing was “not so smooth” – even on my part.
This all got me to thinking back on the Spring of 1975 when Monica and I became engaged.  We were both students at Concordia, River Forest (now Chicago).  We had a weekend trip home planned.  We drove to Concordia, Ann Arbor on Friday to visit with friends, with the plan to drive to Saginaw the following day.  However, since I wanted to get to Saginaw earlier than she did, the plan was for me to hitchhike (which I frequently did “back in the day”) up in the morning while she would then drive my car up in the afternoon.  I used the morning to go to a relative’s jewelry store to purchase the ring.  Then I would just look for the right time Saturday evening to pop the question – and we would be able to celebrate with both our families.
However, Monica having no clue as to what I was up to, decided to bring a friend home with her from Ann Arbor.  And the friend never left Monica’s side the rest of the day!  Sunday after church, with the ring burning a hole in my pocket, we drove the friend back to Ann Arbor and then headed to River Forest.  It was getting dark by the time we got to campus, and Monica had a big test on Monday that she had yet to study for.  Somehow, though, I persuaded her to get a bite to eat together before she hit the books.  We went to one of the few college watering holes that was open on a Sunday night.  She sensed I was acting a little goofy … and I kept looking for the right opportunity.  Finally, shortly before we left, I knelt down beside her and asked, “Monica, will you marry me?”
And her response?  She laughed!  Now, I know that we had been dating for about 7 years … and that we had known each other nearly double that … but, really!  Eventually she did say, “yes” and we headed back to campus.  In her dorm the girls noticed what was up immediately, and an (almost) all night party commenced.  Of course, studying for the test was forgotten until panic set in the following morning.  Monica’s laughing though continued as a substitute professor opened the class with the words, “Today’s test has been postponed due to your professor’s illness.”  … and some people say I live a charmed life!
Nearly 15 years earlier the Shirelles sang, “Mama said there would be days like this!”  In other words, those “not so smooth” days are bound to come.  Sometimes it’s just how things come down, with no one in particular to blame.  However, at least in my case, all too often the issue is my “not so smooth” words or actions.  And, my oh my, how quickly “not so smooth” can morph into “rocky” … or worse.
I think the psalmist found himself in one of those “not so smooth” situations when he wrote, “Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord!  O Lord, hear my voice!  Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my pleas for mercy!  If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?  But with you there is forgiveness, therefore you are feared.” (Psalm 130.1-4)  The Good News is that we have one who has come “to make the rough places smooth” (Isaiah 40.3) … the very One who is “The Way, the Truth and the Life” (John 14.6) – Jesus.  In other words, his forgiveness smooths out even the roughest issues on the vertical plane.

Unfortunately, it is not always so easy on the horizontal plane.  Neither we nor our “neighbors” tend to be as forgiving as our God.  We apologize … we take the initiative in restoring the relationship … we work on minimizing the battles … yet things sometimes remain “not so smooth!”  I think that’s why the above psalmist goes on to say, “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning … O Israel, hope in the Lord!  For with him there is steadfast love, and with him is plentiful redemption.” (Psalm 130.5-7)  Ty and Amy do eventually get married … as did Monica and I nearly 48 years ago.  And even though we have gone through our fair share of “not so smooth” times, we continue to say “Life (and God) is good … ALL THE TIME.

Not So Smooth