God’s life map often passes through scenery I had never anticipated. There have been numerous inconvenient side junkets.

My husband and I have opposite styles of navigation.  He likes to meander off the beaten path and enjoy the scenery.  For him, “short-cut” means “long-cut”.  My approach to driving is that point A to point B is to be navigated as efficiently and fast as possible.  It is a family joke that the fastest carpool route was always with Mom at the wheel.


Too bad that my style of navigation isn’t God’s style.  I have discovered that God’s life map often passes through scenery I had never anticipated. There have been numerous inconvenient side junkets.  I had always imagined that God’s map for my life would consist of a delightful marriage to a minister with an adoring congregation, being a mother to at least four loving children, living in a beautiful brick house, having numerous grandchildren, and developing into a well-respected teacher.  Well, I got the first one right:  marriage to a minister. 


I had not planned for the off-road detours:  losing dear friends to terminal diseases, moving 14 times in our marriage, coping with years of strain in finances, not having any daughters to go shopping with, and letting go of dreams.  God apparently didn’t Google the same directions that I did. 


God’s adventures have sometimes ventured into frightening, dark, and lonely forays.  We have felt like lost travelers longing for a brightly lit exit sign to a route in which everything makes sense.  Intermittently we have found solace in fellow travelers who have navigated the same backroads; those who have not given up when the fuel gauge is blinking red empty; those who have not cursed God in the process.  We have been restored by the fellow passengers who have shared the pain and pointed to Jesus.


I cannot neglect that God’s excursions into the wild also have been filled with light.  Those times when I have had the privilege of directing children’s performances and realized that without God, none of this astoundingly joyous moment would have been possible.  The occasions when I have been able to share the bottomless truth of God’s Word with a friend and finally seen the “aha!” light blink on in his/her life.  The junctures of my life when I have felt downtrodden and spit out and God has ridden to the rescue in ways I could not ever have imagined.  Indeed, God has shone His light, but seldom when I would have timed the turning on of the switch. 


I have a friend who is dealing with the possibility of yet another return of cancer. She reminds me in no uncertain terms that for believers in the wonderful, risen Christ, this world is not our home.  We are not the navigators in the pilot seat; our Father has commanded us to be the obedient crew in the back of the plane.  God calls us the adventurers of Hebrews 11. We identify with Abraham, who was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. We are the explorers who Instead, they were longing for a better country – a heavenly one.  Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them. 


God in His grace sometimes supplies street lights, but the planning of the journey is His alone.  He can direct my path through the mud, the weeds, and sometimes he chooses the well maintained highway. Rarely does point A go directly and easily to point B.  All He asks is that I obediently stay in His arms and look at the delightful scenery He plants along the way. Lord, help me to trust.


The patients were wheeled into a room where they waited and waited. No teacher arrived.  Someone said, “I guess we have to cancel; we don’t have a preacher.” 

Did you ever question God’s timing? My friend, Margie, recently passed out and was rushed by ambulance to the hospital. After a week in the hospital, she was transported to a rehab facility.  When she was finally released, Margie shared with me her best moment in her recovery.


At the nursing home/rehab facility there was supposed to be an afternoon Bible Study.  The patients were wheeled into a room where they waited and waited some more. No teacher arrived.  Finally, someone said, “I guess we have to cancel; we don’t have a preacher.”  Prompted by the Holy Spirit, Margie piped up and said, “I can do it.” She proceeded to not only share how she came to Christ (which had been during the Advent season many years ago) but also shared with them the real message of hope in Jesus Christ. Many of her fellow patients were living the holidays warehoused and forgotten.


God maneuvered the dynamics in that meeting room so Margie could tell them about eternal hope possible through Jesus Christ. Margie’s gameplan for December had not been to have her life disrupted by the hospital stay and then the rehab facility, but God had other plans and they were good.


I have not always appreciated the fact that God “takes actions in the present with the aim of yielding desired results in the future”. That’s what it means when people reference God “playing the long game”. God played the long game with Margie. God’s brilliant half-time show was to get Margie in to share with the patients in the rehab unit.


Matthew 21-18 introduces us to a mass murderer, King Herod. He was responsible for the deaths of his wife, 3 sons, mother-in-law, brother-in-law, and uncle. The emperor Augustus popularized the saying, “Better to be Herod’s pig than his son.” The birth of the promised Messiah threatened everything that Herod ever loved = himself.  The arrival of the Magi must have seemed to him a stroke of luck – Herod would be able to discover the location of this new threat to his power and eliminate the competition. He didn’t realize He was battling the God who plays the long game.


God’s hands are all over the Advent story.  He guided “foreigners to Christ to worship him. God exerted global—probably even universal—influence and power to get it done. Matthew records God moving the stars in the sky to get foreign magi to Bethlehem so that they could worship the Christ. This is God’s design. His aim is that the nations—all the nations (Matthew 24:14)—worship his Son.” (From Good News of Great Joy) That was and is God’s long game. God has always had good plans, regardless of Herod’s execution of the infants in Matthew 2. God worked, even in the presence of evil.


Margie’s stay at the rehab facility isn’t anything she has ever longed for.  However, God gave her the privilege of inviting forgotten people to know the Savior. While Satan plays a short game of destruction, God plays the long game of redemption. That’s Who God is, even when we can’t see it. God has good plans. It’s your choice in who you place or do not place your trust.