Monday, May 30, 2011




Carla McDougal

Read: Acts 16:7, 15:30-16:5, 9:15-16, and 16:6-10
Shortly after we bought our first home as a married couple the housing market crashed. Gas prices are going up 10 cents a day. The dreams that my husband and I dreamed together are in a state of uncertainty.
On top of all this, I endured a terrible trial that emotionally crippled me. We were tempted by a job transfer to Montana and the less attractive move to Illinois, all to escape the trial, but we determined that it was not God’s will for our lives. He told me to stay and make a difference where I am.
In Acts 9:15-16, Jesus had a plan for Paul to reach the Gentiles. It was fulfilled in Acts 16:6-10 when Jesus detoured Paul and Barnabas from Mysia. It was also a sharp disagreement in Acts 15:36-41 that fulfilled God’s plan. Barnabas goes one way and Paul goes another. We discover in other chapters that the friendship between Paul and Barnabas was not harmed, but strengthened. Something the world views as a terrible rift becomes a blessing for the churches in Syria and Cilicia. What does that say to us?
Church splits, disagreements between believers, trials, persecutions, and such are met with fear, anger, disbelief, or sorrow. In The Shelter of God’s Promises, Sheila Walsh writes, “We live in a fallen world, a broken planet. I no longer expect anything to be the way it should be, but I take great comfort, courage, and strength from the promise that in the midst of brokenness, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us. To my human understanding I would think that the depth of the groaning corresponds to the depth of the pain. There are times in life when words just do not come. You may find yourself in a dark place that is darker than you ever imagined, and you want to cry out, ‘How can this work out for good?’”
Various scriptures point out that the Christian life is not rainbows and unicorns, but fraught with tears and pain. Intermittently, there is joy. God assures us that all things work for good according to His will. Every detour has a purpose, even if that purpose is a construction detour sign adding 20 extra miles to your trip. The purpose may yet be undiscovered, but if you’re always available God can do wonderful things with that simple detour.
In fact, after spending a little under an hour writing and studying this section, I walked back to work while my mind pondered her points.
A detour? I’ve had several of those, I think to myself as I approach a cross walk.
An older lady with a wide girth waddled across the street to my right. I feared she would not make it in time before the light turned green. As I crossed on my way back to work she crossed parallel to me, again very arduously. She nearly didn’t make it before the light became green again. Our paths met as I continued to ponder Carla McDougal’s detour study. What happened illustrated Carla’s point in this lesson.
The woman began conversing with me. The conversation turned to Jesus. She liked my bag and I said I got it at Women of Faith.
“You’re a Christian girl.” She nodded.
“Yes. You?” I smiled. My heart trembled.
“Yes. He’s my friend.” She had a lovely smile.
We spoke about Jesus and how He’s our invisible friend, always a part of our life, interwoven. I edged ahead a little, but still lagged behind to stay within talking distance.
“Don’t you have to be somewhere?” She asked.
“I’m in no hurry today. It’s too beautiful of a day to hurry.” I smiled.
She didn’t need to know that I was on my way back from lunch. I couldn’t explain why I tarried or why this conversation happened. It was only an illustration—my detour from
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