Archives For trust

Detour sign in New York

I learned to drive when finding your way around still involved maps—ones that were printed on paper with different size dots to represent population, and different width lines to represent what kind of road it was. To get from place to place, you would locate where you were and where you wanted to go and, most of the time, map out the shortest distance.

This worked well until you came to one of those big orange triangular signs that said “Detour.” Typically, you would be directed off the road with a sign or two and then left to your own resources to find your way back. The objective was to get back to the main road as soon as possible so you could continue your journey. On occasion, getting back to the main road seemed impossible, and you had to find a new way to get to your destination.

Personally, my life recently took a detour (with a cancer diagnosis). Not only am I now on a different road, I am headed for a new and different destination. To be honest, my wife, Robin, and I aren’t sure we know what the new destination will be. This detour is not simply a short-lived excursion, it is a brand-new road.

Sometimes God takes our lives on a detour, at least from the plans we have laid out and from the destinations we were headed toward. And trying to get back to the old road, the former route, is to miss what God wants to do in our life. As one author puts it, the detour has become the new road.

What do we make of this? Is God playing a mean trick on us, or has he changed his mind about his purpose for our lives? As I have thought (and prayed) about this, I have come to a new understanding and appreciation for what God might be doing when he interrupts our personal road maps and seeks to take us to a new destination.

Even a cursory reading of the Bible reveals that many of God’s choicest servants, men and women, experienced some incredible detours. Consider Abraham, who was told to leave his home land and go to a place God would show him (eventually). Ruth, a young bride-turned-widow, also journeyed to a foreign land. Peter, Andrew, James, and John left the family fishing business to wander with Jesus, and the Apostle Paul detoured from persecuting the church to being the planter of churches.

These are just a few of the dozens of examples we could mention. Let me suggest a few possibilities for what God might be up to in the detours of life:

1. You detoured when you trusted Jesus. The truth of the gospel is that we were enemies of God until he intervened and offered us salvation through Jesus. In our old life, we charted our own destination, and it was leading us to separation from God. Our repentance—doing an “about face”—represents the first and most important detour as a disciple of Jesus.

2. Your detour may last for many years before you see the benefit. Joseph was enjoying his time as the favorite son of a wealthy father. Then his brothers threw him in a pit and left him for dead. He was sold into slavery to a foreign king and later thrown into prison, even though he did nothing wrong. Quite a life-changing detour! But after decades and several more detours, Joseph’s position in the foreign land was used by God to meet the need of his people in a time of severe famine. You may not see the benefit or the blessing of a detour for many years to come.

3. Your detour may have a Kingdom impact. Saul, who became the Apostle Paul, may have had the most dramatic detour recorded. From hunting down and wanting to kill followers of Jesus, he became the greatest missionary ever, planting churches all over the known world. Only in heaven will we know how many people came to be followers of Jesus because of Paul’s ministry. This was certainly not his original life’s ambition. Yet you and I have heard the gospel because of Paul’s dramatic detour.

4. Your detour may be for the blessing of others. Consider Abram. He was a herder of livestock. God told him to leave home and set out for a place that God would show him. Not only would God bless Abram, “all the peoples on earth will be blessed through you” (Gen. 12:3). Abram’s detour resulted in all the nations of the earth being blessed.
So, don’t get in a hurry to get back to your original route. Allow what seems like a detour to be the new route of obedience for your life.

Van Kicklighter is IBSA’s associate executive director for the Church Planting Team.

If I were your enemy

ib2newseditor —  August 11, 2016

Fear Concept Wooden Letterpress Type

I am part of a very lively, very opinionated Sunday school class. Most of us are in our 50s and 60s, which, of course, means there is also great wisdom in our class (or so we’d like to think!). There are many times when our class discussions veer off into politics, pop culture or current events. This almost always results in hand-wringing, head-shaking, and longing for “the good old days.”

A couple of weeks ago, one of my classmates, a father of two, told us how sad and fearful he had felt that weekend when he was watching his kids play, thinking, “What if this time, right now, is the best time of their lives? What if it’s downhill from here?” What a sad thought!

It reminded me of something I had read in “Fervent,” Priscilla Shirer’s book on prayer:
“If I were your enemy, I’d magnify your fears, making them appear insurmountable, intimidating you with enough worries until avoiding them becomes your driving motivation.”

Shirer says fear is one of Satan’s primary schemes for crippling God’s people. I’m not talking about legitimate concern or warnings of godly wisdom; I’m talking about incessant worry, up-all-night anxiety, and worst-case scenarios that become the only probabilities you can imagine.

These were the kinds of fears my friend in class was talking about. And it made me mad! But not at him. I was mad at the enemy for messing with him, for messing with me, for messing with all of us! In class that day, I felt compelled to tell him, “Don’t give Satan that power over you!”

Satan is NOT God, and he’s not God’s counterpart or peer. They’re not even on the same playing field! Stop allowing his “spirit of fear” to invade our lives. We need to pray fervently and strategically against the enemy, as Shirer writes in “Fervent.” You and I, coming to the Father through the mighty name of Jesus, can pray like the victorious saints of God we’ve been empowered to be!

With all that’s going on in the world, I totally understand where my friend is coming from. But I don’t want him to live with a spirit of fear. I will continue to remind myself and those I love to pray fervently.

He is my God, and I trust him. More than ever before!

Carole Doom is IBSA’s information specialist and a member of Living Faith Baptist Church in Sherman.

COMMENTARY | Bob Elmore

Bob_Elmore_blog_calloutWaking up to the sound of a high-pitched alarm is never a good start to a day. But this morning in April 2012 started just that way. It had been a stormy night, so I initially thought it was the weather alert radio and I mentally prepared to get my family down to the basement—not an easy task, since we have two sons with profound autism who strongly resist any changes to their routines.

I groggily opened my eyes and remembered I had been sleeping on the couch in the living room with my wife and son, Mark, who has epilepsy in addition to autism. He had a seizure that night, so we had been keeping watch over him as he slept on the floor. I looked around at our dark house and saw an odd orange glow coming from Mark’s room. The shrill alarm I heard was our smoke alarm. Mark’s room was on fire!

I woke up my wife and we got our protesting sons out of the house and into the car, which we moved away from the house. We were in pajamas and bare feet while we waited for the heater in the car to warm up. We watched dark smoke billow out of our windows as our small local fire department arrived.

Somehow, my wife and I were filled with a peace that belied our circumstances. We gripped hands and prayed, thanking God for our family’s safety and especially that our son had not been in his room when the fire began—the first time we were ever grateful for a seizure.

We opened our eyes after the “Amen.” All we had in the world was given to us by God, like Psalm 24 tells us. “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.” We instinctively knew that He would give us what we needed, just like He always had before…and He did.

Our dear neighbors and loving church family in Winchester, Ill.—about an hour west of Springfield—brought us blankets, clothes, coffee and emotional support. Over the next days, weeks and months, we would watch God fold His arms around us by bringing people to us. We had spent years together trusting God to take care of our atypical family each day, and He had always proved Himself faithful and now continued to do so.

Within three months, we had relocated to Springfield, where I now serve as IBSA’s short-term missions coordinator. We have a new house and new furnishings. Most importantly, we have another reason to entrust all that we have to God. Matthew 6:21 reminds us that “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Our treasure always lies with our God. That way, our hearts will forever be in a safe and peaceful place.

Bob Elmore is IBSA’s short-term missions coordinator. He and his family are members of Western Oaks Baptist Church.