This year Ready for the Road Ahead is taking on a new direction. It is one that follows the grand theme of sight in all aspects which runs throughout Scripture. My weekly writings will be excerpts from a book of the same name which should be published (Lord willing) later this year.
Our God is a God who takes pleasure in revealing things to His Creation. In fact, His creation is the starting point of revelation (Rom. 1:20). He continued revealing Himself to people and to the nation of Israel in both personal and miraculous ways (Gen. 5:21-24; Ex. 13:17-22; 33:18-23; Jos. 5:13-6:2; Is. 6:1-4 and many more!). It is not really difficult to see God this way. If you are a person of faith God is truly apparent in creation when you stand before something as majestic and powerful as Niagara Falls. It is also not difficult to see God at work in history when you read the story of the Exodus and acknowledge that God is still at work in the preservation of the nation of Israel today. It is also “easy” to see God directing the prophets or having a special relationship with a person such as Enoch. But what about “seeing God at work” in our personal stories? Do we readily see Him when He reveals Himself in our lives? Most of us would be able to do so when things are going well. It is one thing to recognize that God is at work under pleasant circumstances and happy coincidences. It is another to see Him molding and shaping us in adversity and then to acknowledge it was all “part of the plan”. But oftentimes those times of stress and disappointment are the times that God is most revealing.
Some of my photographs have come to illustrate this quite vividly in an artistic way. I might decide a picture is not good, but think, “What if I played with this in the computer a bit?” And what is revealed after some twisting, cropping, color adjusting and effect applying is a hidden beauty that was always there and couldn’t be discovered without the processing it went through. I have come to see the times when I am discouraged and disappointed in the same way. If not for all the twisting, cropping, color adjusting and effect applying that God puts me through, I might not see Him at work in my life at all.
I don’t think there was a person in the Bible who understood this lesson better than Joseph (Gen. 37:1-36; 39:1-45:8 and following). The Bible does not tell us about all the thoughts that must have gone through Joseph’s head when he was betrayed by his brothers, falsely accused by his master’s wife or waiting for the cup-bearer to bring up his case before Pharaoh. But I am certain that many of those thoughts questioned God as to why He was letting these things happen to Joseph! However the years of disappointment and discouragement brought Joseph to this conclusion: “God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant in the earth, and to keep you alive by a great deliverance. Now, therefore, it was not you who sent me here, but God…” (Gen. 45:7-8) he tells his astonished family when they are reunited. The disappointments and discouraging moments of his life have taught Joseph one unavoidable truth: God puts all these experiences in our lives and He works them accordingly to fulfill His will (Rom. 8:28). Joseph saw God at work in his life so that he could be there at that very moment to preserve both his family and his people.
Paul’s passion for spreading the Gospel hardly goes unnoticed as you read through the Book of Acts so when his efforts to travel eastward were thwarted I’m sure it was disappointing for the evangelist. Instead of traveling beyond Bythinia into Asia Paul ends up in Troas where he sees a man from Macedonia pleading for help (Acts 16:6-10). This causes Paul and his entourage to pack up and arrive in Philippi where his ministry flourishes. To this day the Philippian Church is held up as one the best examples of the early Christian community and the powerful way the Gospel can change both people and the world they live in (Acts 16:11-40). But none of this would have happened if Paul had remained discouraged and ignored what God had revealed to him in his dream.
When it appears another disappointment has placed itself on my path- whether it is a bad photo or a blocked course of action- I’ve come to realize that it is a time to ask, “What if?” What if God is trying to teach me something about Himself in this situation? What if He has a better plan somewhere else? What if this disappointment is actually a blessing in disguise? What if I can serve Him more fully through this disappointment than if I had achieved success from the start? What will your “What if?” questions be? More importantly, when God reveals the answer, will you see it?
Ann H. LeFevre, M. Div.
https://www.annhlefevre.com; Olivetreeann@mail.com; https://www.linkedin.com/in/annhlefevre; https://www.facebook.com/ann.h.lefevre