The water was at least 18 inches deep – across all four lane of Interstate 24 just south of downtown Nashville, TN. We carefully followed another vehicle through the water (Kids: don’t ever, ever do that!) and then we found ourselves stranded. We inched our way to the closest exit and tried three different directions all blocked by flood waters. Five hours later we learned from a Police Officer that one road going west was open. We would be able to go to Knoxville, TN and take I-75 to Atlanta. This was an adventure marked by delays, detours, and determined dependency.
What was intended to be a 12 hour trip became a 20 hour quest for a clear path. Not unlike life itself and especially similar to the challenges of ministry.
We often approach life in general and ministry in particular with the expectation that all the details should fall into place; all the roadblocks removed. We assume that because God has directed us to travel in a certain direction, the journey should be straightforward, and we don’t expect any delays or detours.
Some of us really believe that Jesus has gone ahead of us and prepared the way (Luke 7:22) but we don’t expect the way to include U-turns, backtracking, or waiting for hours on end (or days) for the path to become clear. We forget that the same God who moves at the speed of light (186,000 miles per second) also moves at the pace of a glacier or snail. He is God. God is more interested in obedience, faithfulness, and humility than speed.
How closely we follow Him is more important than the route He leads us through. Our self-discipline, self-control, and self-sacrifice are more important than how fast a task is completed or how successful a particular program is.
Fully devoted followers of Jesus learn (and are learning) to be determined in their dependency on God. Being patient while waiting for flash-flood waters to recede is an act of the will. Dealing with hotel doors with computerized locks that seize up at the most inopportune time requires a great deal of self-control. Driving hundreds of miles out of the way to reach the intended destination depends on staying alert.
Recognizing God in the delays and detours produces a new level of dependency on Him. (See Psalm 124)
No matter what tough, painful difficulties you face God is with you. Be determined in your dependence on Him.