As we walked along we came to a barrier under a bridge but there was also a diversion sign. As I paused it occurred to me that this was a perfect illustration of what I believe that God has been teaching me recently.
Let me explain …
You know how frustrating it is when something goes wrong? How do you cope?Perhaps you get annoyed, fixate on how perfect things would be if things hadn’t gone wrong and then you frantically try to fix everything?
I’ve experienced a change in attitude so that now …
Instead of assuming something is wrong and that everything is going to fall apart, I’ve been learning to look for what God is doing in the blockage or difficulty.
Let me share a few examples:
At Orchard Baptist we have significantly less musicians than we once did. This is something that I think we struggled with as a church until we began to get to grips with other forms of worship that don’t require music. Our services are more life focused now where and we often give more time to hearing what God has been doing in our everyday lives and also time to listen to God. There is nothing wrong with using music as a primary form of worship but God has shown us more of what gathered worship can look like where we can connect with him in a variety of ways as we have been open to him.
Recently we had a mix up and I found out that there was no one working the computer in our Sunday morning service about 2 minutes before we were due to start. Someone quite new to the church could see I was struggling trying to get all the song lyrics lined up in the projection software and offered to help. We explained to the church at the start of the service that something had gone wrong and we were going to do our best with the song words and it all went pretty well. What could have been a stressful and difficult morning became a time of encouragement and blessing in all kinds of ways.
Our numbers on Sunday morning have increased to the point where some of our children groups weren’t working well. This was causing quite a lot of stress for the leaders of our youngest group and so we gathered all our children’s work leaders together and talked it through. We are fairly stretched running three groups but the decision was made to see the difficulties as an opportunity to expand and create a fourth group anyway.
In all of these and many other situations, we are learning to look for what God is doing and to let him lead us through it.
One thing I would want to make clear though is that although I believe that God is working in and through every situation I don’t think that God wants or wills everything that happens. God will work in a tragedy but it doesn’t mean he caused or wanted that tragedy! I find the way that Rick Warren explains this helpful, he says that ‘God doesn’t waste a hurt’ and I love the way that God is at work bringing healing and hope in the pain and hurts of life.
I love the way that God blessed the early church in Acts despite them not obeying all of his commands. He had told them that they should be his witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the earth and yet somehow they never got beyond Jerusalem. Then, one day persecution broke out and at the beginning of Acts 8 many of the Christians ran for their lives and one of the first places that it mentions them arriving is Samaria. I don’t believe that God wanted or caused the persecution but it seems like he used it to shake his church in such a way that they entered more fully into what he was calling them to do.
When we feel shaken, will we panic or look to God and to what he might be doing in amongst the chaos?
As we travel through life and we find obstacles will we look for the opportunities and in particular how God is leading us?
Instead of banging on the barrier, my wife and I followed the detour sign and as a result we enjoyed an amazing walk together.
May God give us the faith to walk with him, wherever and however he leads us!