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The Internet is a rich source of random thoughts and miscellaneous wisdom. Under that heading, I offer the following pearls for your consideration:
1) Accept that some days you're the pigeon, and some days you're the statue.
2) If you can't be kind, at least have the decency to be vague.
3) Never buy a car you can't push. (This one has come in handy over the years.)
4) The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese. (Think about it.)
5) When everything's coming your way, you might be in the wrong lane.
6) A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery on a detour.
As I read that last one, it got me to thinking (a dangerous habit, I know). During the past 40 years, one of the things I have learned is that life is unpredictable.
Is it just me, or do you also seem to encounter detours when you least expect them? Just when you think you’ve got everything figured out, something happens that totally rocks your world.
Maybe the job you thought was secure suddenly wasn’t. Maybe just when you’d settled into that nice 3-bedroom ranch, baby number 3 (or 4!) comes along.
Maybe in spite of everything you’ve been taught, you get an inside dog (hypothetically speaking, of course).
It seems that detours come even—or maybe especially—when we have everything planned just so.
It has been said that “God works in mysterious ways,” and again, from my limited experience, I have found it to be true. Very often I can’t figure out what God is doing in a certain situation, and then, if and when I do figure it out, it seems to be the opposite of what I expected or for what I had asked.
Sometimes I feel like the little girl who prayed, “Dear God, thank you for the baby brother, but what I prayed for was a puppy.” Can you relate?
In a recent newsletter, Mark Early, president and CEO of Prison Fellowship Ministries, pointed out that “God’s ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are not our thoughts. He accomplishes His purposes in ways that are often unwelcome in time and manner. His plans often don’t fit with how we have figured things out.”
As examples, he recounted the stories of two couples from the beginning of the book of Luke.
One was older, winding down their lives together. The other was young, yet to be married, and full of the hope and promise of what their lives together might bring.
Neither couple had children, the older couple having given up long before and the younger couple thinking that they would, of course, wait until they were married.
To both of these couples, the angel Gabriel appeared and what he told them was certainly a detour from anything they could have possibly imagined. Both were to have sons.
The older couple’s son was to be the one who would introduce the world to the long-awaited Savior. And the younger couple’s son was to be that Savior.
Early concluded by saying, “The days that Gabriel came to these couples began rather routinely. All of them had a set of expectations driven by how they had sized up the world around them and their place in it. Then God spoke. And everything changed forever.”
Those two couples experienced dramatic detours in their lives. My guess is that you have, too. Or if you haven’t yet, you will.
We certainly live in uncertain times. No one knows exactly what to expect, and the “experts” that have recently made predictions have turned out to be less than dependable.
So what do you do when detours come? The two couples mentioned earlier were able to roll with the changes and in fact “enjoy the scenery’ of their detours because of their firm foundations of faith in God.
This life is certainly unpredictable; often what I think I know about how things are going to happen turns out to be far different from what actually comes my way.
May your life be so firmly rooted in the Truth that you can enjoy the scenery, even on your detours.
Still, watch out for the pigeons.
Chuck Souder is on staff at Shelby Christian Church. If you have questions or comments for Chuck, he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org