In the enthusiasm of youth and with more dream than actual plan, in 1977 Bev and I left work, home, and family to move 2000 miles; with little money, feeling that God was leading us to a new ministry. Each month brought a new trial. We grew terribly lonely. Our baby boy developed pneumonia and spent 5 long days in the hospital. The denomination in which I was a newly credentialed minister refused to recognize me in the District because, due to my inexperience, I had failed to observe proper transfer protocol. To support our family I ended up as a laborer on a construction site, working long hours, sun-up to dark. We returned to New Jersey a year later having made what seemed a meaningless detour in life.
With time, I came to understand that the Lord was in that year. However, His plan for me was far different than my dream. He was doing things in me that were critically important for the future, teaching me about His faithfulness and grace. That year in Wyoming is remembered now as one of the most transformational times of life.
When we think we have life in our control, I think perhaps our loving Father smiles at our naiveté. Are you ever tempted to think that He is not there, or that He has forgotten you when it all goes wrong, when, in spite of your best efforts, the results are not what you hoped for?
Genesis tells us the story of Joseph, a man beloved of God, who started life full of promise and ended up in a hard, dark place for years! God allowed Joseph to travel from favored son into a place in slavery. The household where he served as manager became a place where he was falsely accused of sexual harassment. That to his imprisonment! But God … was at work! Each `detour’ was actually a turn in the road that led to the throne!
Decades later, when he was the Prince of Egypt, he wept as he told his brothers that God had used all the events, even their treachery, to ultimately accomplish His will. He said “God has sent me ahead of you to keep you and your families alive and to preserve many survivors. So it was God who sent me here, not you! And he is the one who made me an adviser to Pharaoh—the manager of his entire palace and the governor of all Egypt.” (Genesis 45:7-8, NLT)
Does this all mean that we should become fatalists, floating down the stream of life shouting, “Praise the Lord!” at every jolt? No. We laugh, we cry, we worship, and we wonder, because we are human with a rich range of emotions. Through it all it is important that we actively pursue the will of God. Choices must be made that are shaped by a God-honoring obedience. But , we cannot forget that, in spite of our best of intentions, there will be side trips and detours that leave us wondering, “what happened?”
Are you struggling through a situation that seems meaningless?
Trust Him. If you’ve made a mistake, He can turn it around. We have this assurance – “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” (Romans 8:28, NLT)
Here’s a word from the Word to take with you today.
“My tears have been my food day and night, while men say to me all day long,
“Where is your God?”
These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go with the multitude,
leading the procession to the house of God,
with shouts of joy and thanksgiving among the festive throng.
Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.
My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you …
Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me. By day the Lord directs his love, at night his song is with me— a prayer to the God of my life.” (Psalm 42:3-8, NIV)
(An interesting Amy Grant rendition of this great hymn which was penned by a Scot, George Matheson. He was a young man, deep in love when blindness struck him and his fiancé broke off their engagement. He went on, in spite of it all, to a life of ministry, but never married. The hymn is one of profound faith!)
O love that will not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in Thee.
I give Thee back the life I owe,
That in Thine ocean depths its flow,
May richer fuller be.
O Light that followest all my way
I yield my flickering torch to Thee
My heart restores its borrowed ray
That in Thy sunshine’s blaze its day
May brighter fairer be
O joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to Thee.
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain,
That morn shall tearless be.
O cross that lifted up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from Thee.
I lay in dust life’s glory dead,
And from the ground there blossoms red,
Life that shall endless be.
Matheson, George / Peace, Albert Lister © Public Domain