Had I known what my obedience would cost me, I would have been firm in my refusal to the call God had on my life in this area. I now understand why I wept those mournful tears sitting in my car outside of an abandoned church. Life is a continual process of becoming, and in the becoming we change and grow. However hurtful, the experience was a part of my becoming. It will always be with me. The great philosopher and poet, William James said, “The world is full of partial stories that run parallel to one another, beginning and ending at odd times. They mutually interlace and interfere at points, but we cannot unify them completely in our minds.”
Sometimes we don’t understand how the road we’re on could lead us to another different, possibly better road in the future, but the pieces of our tapestry of experience will always intersect at points during our lives. What matters is how we weave our story, and the learning we take away from each hardship.
I once had a life experience that felt like a detour. Suddenly, everything I knew to be familiar was gone; my life as I knew it was now changed. Deception and naivety collided and shattered into pieces and I found myself at a dead end. I was forced to take another road; one which I would never have believed would interlace with my present.
My childhood Raggedy Ann doll sits on a shelf in the closet, her arms and legs covered in band-aids after being flopped around years ago by a puppy. I picked her up and held her close, remembering what she had meant to me and lifted up her dress to look at the scars. A pink fabric heart outlined with red thread takes the place of her chest where it was ripped open and shredded. When it happened I cried because she would “never be the same.” My sister hurriedly stitched her up, attempting to relieve my pain, yet the scars still remain and have been woven into the tapestry of her inanimate life.
I think we are all a bit like Raggedy Ann, tattered and torn. Sometimes our hearts get so broken that it feels as if something has ripped us wide open at the chest. Oh, but dear sisters, Jesus can mend those scars, fix broken hearts and bind up our wounds…stuffing and all!
Have you ever had a life experience so painful that it changed you? You’re driving along on course and suddenly a fork in the road causes you to take a different route. You feel lost and somehow the scenery just isn’t as beautiful as the road you were once on. You drive and drive, looking ahead to see if there might be a place in the road where the two paths converge, hoping you will somehow end up back on the right track.
After time, you can look back at the detour and say, “Wow, I felt really lost for awhile. Now everything seems, once again, familiar and comfortable.”
When we find ourselves on unfamiliar paths, when we feel off course, when life brings us sudden changes, we can ask God to take the pain and use it! Sometimes the people we love and trust the most hurt us. Sometimes the Church hurts us. God can use people whom you love and trust the most to break you. Why? Because he wants all of you. He wants all of your attention, all of your hurts, all of your desires and all of your longings. He wants to be the one to fill the void. All else is in vain. Like the broken piece of my life experience, we can try to put it back together ourselves but tiny fractures will remain…with remnants too small for us to do it alone. Those tiny remnants, holes or vacuums are places that God wants the work of the Holy Spirit to fill with His light.
For a season, it seemed that each corner I took awaited a familiar reminder of where I had been – my life before the detour. I cried out to God, “How are you using me? How? I don’t see it! I feel only pain with the reminders of what used to be.” The nature of humanity is sin. Evil cloaks itself in Light. I recited Psalm 63 over and over again, “Oh, God, you are my God, in a dry and weary land, my soul thirsts for you.”
When God allows detours in our lives, he is in control. We may see it as a detour; he sees it as a place of convergence, a place where we must lean on him and not on our own understanding. For we walk by faith, not by sight. He tells us in Hebrews 13:5 Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.
Does the road you have taken distort your thoughts about God? Is your perception of God and His blessings influenced by your relationship with others? 2Timothy 2:13 says: If we are faithless he will remain faithful, for He cannot disown himself.
Has someone or something tried to rob you of joy, peace, hope and dreams? Sin will do this. But God tells us, this too shall pass.
One day we will stand before our Great God and hear him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
There is a cross at the center of our faith. It is a mighty symbol of what God has done for us.
Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. Isaiah 55:1
My light was dimmed. I was not allowed to shine in their presence. A shining light diminished their light, so they tried to snuff out mine. I found this profoundly beautiful speech by Nelson Mandela, which spoke so loudly to me, as I so often felt my spirit dampened by those who had lost their light. I had never met 3 men who were so encumbered by darkness and fear that they were blinded by the light of others. For so long, I had to shrink myself to keep the peace, when in the core of my being I was crying out, “Help me God! Help me!” I wanted to grab the microphone on Sunday mornings and shout praises, but I was told after doing so one Sunday, never to do that again.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that frightens us. We ask ourselves: Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you NOT to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. You were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it is in EVERYONE.
Has God given you a thorn? If so, how has your brokenness allowed the light of the Holy Spirit shine through?
Nothing is ever wasted. Your healing is at hand.