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ar•rest (noun):

  1. the action of seizing someone to take into custody.
  2. a stoppage or sudden cessation of motion.

Is there anything more frustrating than a well thought out plan being subverted by illness or another unfortunate set of circumstance? Any parent knows what I’m talking about . . .

When life throws us curveballs it’s easy to blame the devil, ourselves, others, or even God. But when we walk with God we must trust that the curve balls, no matter how difficult or frustrating or even devastating, have been allowed by God for a purpose.

The above paragraph was really hard for me to type as I reflect how many people I know who have suffered losses, even this year, that are beyond my own comprehension. There is a massive difference between believing God is responsible for inflicting the suffering vs believing that God allows it (this is best explained through the story of creation and made even clearer through the story of Job) and it’s important that we all understand and make that distinction when communicating with anyone who is experiencing suffering and loss.

All of that said, going back to the main point, there is little more difficult or frustrating than disruptions, interruptions, surprises, changes of plan, etc.. Whether it be the ice cream machine breaking down when we were really craving that orange and vanilla swirl cone or that two-week concert tour in Scotland that I had to cancel after arriving because of contracting laryngitis on the way over.

My life has been full of interruptions, like that tour. There have been moments where I have broken down and cried, “Lord, why are you doing this? If you want me to share this music/word/light you have given to me, why are you allowing these hinderances?!”

Each time I am reminded that he has a plan and I am part of that plan, whether it appears like it or not. When I take the time to dig into the scriptures, both in the old and the new testaments, I see examples of the same types of interruptions and disruptions, and delays happening to God’s beloved, chosen people—most of the delays/hinderances/trials were much worse than mine! Most notably:

  • Israel, enslaved for 400 years (this means people died in slavery) before God sent Moses to lead them to freedom.
  • David, banished to a wilderness, running from Saul, forced to wait in the shadows for God’s timing.
  • Joseph, thrown into a pit, enslaved, then falsely accused and imprisoned, forced to wait an excruciatingly long time for the dream God had put in his heart to be fulfilled.
  • Elizabeth, barren, waited decades to be blessed with a child. The child she was given? John the Baptist.

The truth is, when we are following God fully, it is he who sometimes leads us into the delays.Those delays are part of his purpose. He’s working things out within us, around us, and preparing the way. Sometimes, he’s just accomplishing his purpose in a way vastly different than anything we could imagine. For example: Paul’s imprisonment resulted in him writing so many of the letters Christians for centuries have considered sacred. His words, written in a season of his ministry where he probably felt discouraged, unfruitful, perhaps even perplexed or angry that he was unable to fulfill what he knew in his heart was God’s call on his life, became part of what we now call the New Testament. What looked like hinderance was part of God’s greater plan. Paul reached more human beings while “hindered” than he ever would have had he been free to go where he wished or felt he should.

Amazing.

I’m clinging to these truths today as I reflect on God’s call, my response to it, the years of working and seemingly endless waiting. I’m doing my best to remember that his ways are not my ways, his thoughts are not my thoughts and that his plans are rarely shared. As George MacDonald so brilliantly said, “Understanding is the reward of obedience.”

If we are God’s child, nothing can hinder his plan for our lives. No grief, no amount of suffering or loss, not even our own failures can stop what he wants to do in and through us. We must hold on to our faith and continue to live lives of surrender. He’s “watching over {his} word to perform it.” It’s not up to us to make sure his will is done. It’s only up to us to listen and to obey those day-to-day nudges. Lord, make us faithful in these moments of small because they are huge in the light of eternity. We may never seem to graduate from the small and that is ok because God’s view of big and small is quite different than ours.
Be still and know….

Stephanie Staples

Author Stephanie Staples

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