IT WAS CUSTOMER SERVICE WEEK. A time of celebration for our department’s work over the past year. My new supervisor, just a couple days on the job, handed me the decorative gift bag. She stated it was a gift purchased by my former supervisor for this special occasion.
Taking the heavy gift bag, I set it on my desk and peeked inside. Nestled within layers of white tissue paper, I discovered a cream-colored coffee mug with an aqua-blue interior. I gently lifted it out and read the words painted in gray on the outside. My breath caught and tiny teardrops trickled down my cheeks.
“Wherever God Leads Me, I’m Ready for the Journey.”
The irony of the words touched me deep inside. Just a few days before I opened this gift, my former supervisor lost his job. Little did he know at the time of purchase, his journey was just beginning.
Life happens that way, doesn’t it? Just when we think we are headed in the direction God wants us to go, or we are content with the path we are on, something throws us off kilter. Our path twists, and we end up someplace we never expected.
It seems every time I turn around, I hear of someone who has had to contend with something unexpected.
This past year, I’ve had friends who struggled with surgeries. One developed an infection after a full knee replacement and had to have it completely redone. She was laid up most of the summer and missed many conferences and trips she planned to take.
Another friend tore the hamstrings in both legs after a severe fall which laid her up for several weeks. A vacation to Colorado to hike and explore the mountains with her husband has become a scenic view from a wheel chair when she feels well enough to be outside.
Both women had not counted on the predicament they found themselves in.
So how do we contend with such situations? Many times, once we get past the initial shock and disappointment , we can look back and see God’s hand extended to lead us forward into new and exciting places. It may not be how we hoped to get there or in a place we dreamed of being, but when our mind shifts from dwelling on our current state to allowing God to use us, we free our minds to the ponder endless possibilities.
Even in the midst of our difficulties, we can glorify God.
The Apostle Paul was no stranger to hardship. He experienced many difficulties on his journeys while preaching the Gospel.
“…I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. 24 Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26 I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. 27 I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. 28 Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.” (2 Corinthians 11:23-28)
Yet Paul learned to be content in whatever circumstance he found himself. He set his focus on God and used his difficulties to point others to Christ.
11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength. (Philipians 4:11-13)
If we take our example from Paul, we can draw strength and encouragement from his words. We can learn to be content with our circumstances. We can shift our focus to God and be prepared to go wherever He leads us.
Although our journey may be difficult, we can trust God because He loves us. Will you take His hand and let Him lead the way?
Are you ready for the journey?
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
Prayer: Dear God, We know that difficult times will come; many times when we least expect them. When they do, remind us of Paul. Let us return to his words of encouragement and redirect our focus to You. You know where You are leading us. Give us strength to trust Your guidance. Let us take Your hand and ready ourselves for the journey. In your precious Son’s name we pray, Amen.
All scripture was taken from www.biblegateway.com, NIV version.