“Well, could it be that the many roads you took to get here
Were just for me to tell this story and for you to hear this song?
And your many hopes, and your many fears
Were meant to bring you here all along.”
– Andrew Peterson, from “Many Roads” –
Let me tell you a story about a farm.
I grew up in the suburbs of America’s fourth-largest city. Major league baseball, giant rodeos, shopping malls, and miles-long lines of cars waiting in “rush hour” traffic are all stamped on my memory, normal facets of growing up in Houston, Texas.
I just wanted a horse like all the girls in the books had…and a farm to put the horse on.
But I got older and older….and older. My fanaticism about horses capped at around age thirteen and then started, gradually, to fade.
I gave up on the farm.
But when I was 18, my family moved to rural Arkansas and bought a 23-acre property nestled deep in the winding roads of the Ozarks.
And suddenly we had our farm.
Why Arkansas, of all places? Why when I was 18, and not when I was 8? Why here? Why now? Why me?
When I look back on our move, the winding roads of circumstance are even more intricate than the crazy twists and turns of the mountains.
I didn’t know what was going on then, but these days I look back in surprise at how God led my family through these crooked hills to the place where He’d use us best.
And that’s exactly what He’s doing. He led us home…and now He’s using us to lead others home too.
It’s my favorite place to be.
And, six years ago, I’d have never, ever guessed what was in store.
My favorite Old Testament character is Joseph. I know that the men and women in the Bible weren’t perfect, and their life histories aren’t meant to be moral patterns for Christian living, but something about this young dreamer-turned-slave-turned-prince touches my heart. I love his passion. I love his wisdom and trust in a God who led him down many strange roads. And I love, as the Message paraphrase records, what he said to the brothers who tried their best to destroy his life:
“Don’t you see, you planned evil against me but God used those same plans for my good, as you see all around you right now—life for many people” (from Genesis 50:19-21, MSG).
Evil. Hate. Revenge. Anger. Jealousy. All of these conspire together against Joseph. And God turns the tables and rips the status quo apart, and life and good and joy spring out of the mess.
There are no dead ends for His children, only “many roads” that deliver us right to the doorstep of destiny.
Where are you in the journey?
Maybe you are at an intersection and can look back to see how God seamlessly fitted together all of the pieces to bring you to this moment.
Perhaps you are in the middle of a deserted road in the blackest part of the night, and you don’t think that it could ever intersect with anything good.
Perhaps you’ve been on the same road for miles and miles, and you’re just desperate to come to a crossroad so you can try something new.
I’ve been just dazzled by a tiny phase this past week–“the patience of hope.”
The patience of hope.
I’m not very patient. Often, I’m ready for my hopes to materialize, right now. Immediately. Pronto. “Okay, Lord, now is good,” I pray. “Okay, this is perfect. Now’s Your chance…Lord? Don’t you think this is a good time for an intersection? Lord?”
The patience of hope.
When we believe that God is “up to something good in all our delays and detours,” as John Piper says, how can we rush the road?
Is it a scenic path? Enjoy it. Don’t be staring up ahead and miss what is, right now.
Is it long and deserted? Even there, something good waits. Seek the Lord first. Love Him with everything, and let it overflow. Love the people on your road. Love them hard. The long roads can be some of the most blessed.
Is it full of surprises and uncertainty? The Master Craftsman is in charge of making your road lead somewhere, and He’s promised that every turn will be just what you need (Romans 8:28.)
“But [The Lord’s] joy is in those who reverence him, those who expect him to be loving and kind.”
– Psalm 147:11, TLB –
What are you expecting? Is your hope patient, because you expect Him to be loving and kind? Whatever you expect, He will be loving and kind. Your hope will not be disappointed.
You are on this one road, out of many roads, for a reason.
And it’s a good reason.
“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.”
– Isaiah 41:10, NLT –