This is not a detour
By John A Carroll
Week 34 in the Word—August 20-26, 2021
“We went from the honeymoon to the ER.” Those were the words of Grammy award winning songwriter and singer Laura Story and her husband, Martin Elvington, in an interview (here). A few months into their marriage, Martin, who had been a tall, healthy athlete in high school and college, was diagnosed with a brain tumor. The surgery was risky but unavoidable. He survived but was left with partial blindness and memory loss.
Like every young married Christian couple, Laura and Martin anticipated a long life of fruitful service for Christ raising happy and healthy children. Laura’s music career was starting to take off and Martin was working on a master’s degree that promised excellent options. A brain tumor resulting in permanent disability was not on their radar screen.
Suddenly, there it was. Every thing went on hold. But Martin escaped death, and ten years later, they were at Focus on the Family in Colorado Springs telling their story to the world. By that time, they had learned vital lessons and God had given them three children.
“We learned that Martin’s disability was not a detour on the road God had for us. Rather the trials of this condition were the road He planned for us,” Laura said. If you have ever heard her song “Blessings” you know that God used suffering to teach Laura and millions of us how the Lord uses “raindrops, pain, and a thousand sleepless nights” to show us He is near. “What if trials of this life are His mercies in disguise?” she sings.
What if…? Indeed, His word makes it clear that the trials of this life are His mercies in disguise.
As a young Christian, I memorized Scripture. Verses like Luke 9:23 went deeply into my mind and heart.
“[Jesus] said to all, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.’”
I remember a moment when I gave myself to Christ as completely as I knew how. I determined to follow Him no matter what the cost. It cost all the vain things that had been my life. Over the years, that commitment has been tested again and again. As trials and suffering came so did the question “will I continue to follow Jesus?”
Yesterday, on a hike with Mary in the National Forest, it hit me that while I often think about taking up my cross and denying myself, I do not always remember that I am following Him. If He has called me to follow Him, then two implications must be true. One, He is leading me. He has not left me to figure out where to go. He leads and I follow. Two, if He is leading me and I am following Him then He is always near me, and I am always near Him. I am not alone, not abandoned. He is here. So, this is not a detour. This is the road on which He leads me. I can be confident even though I do not understand everything that is going on presently, much less what may happen tonight, tomorrow or a year from now. He is here. He is leading. That is enough.
Do you believe that God controls the road you are on or do you speculate about when you will get off the detour and get back on the “real road” you were expecting? At times I think that way. But this is the road, my believing friends. We are on it. Right now. Bear the cross. Follow Jesus. You may learn that this detour like all the trials of this life are His blessings in disguise.
Week of August 20-26, 2021
August 20/Day 232
The Blessing of Being Simple (Psalms 116-118; 1 Corinthians 2)
August 21/Day 233
The Christian’s Identity: God’s Lowly Farmhand (Psalms 119:1-48; I Corinthians 3)
August 22/Day 234
Preparing for Finals (Psalms 119:49-104; I Corinthians 4)
August 23/Day 235
Church Discipline and Membership (Psalms 119:105-176; I Corinthians 5)
August 24/Day 236
Peace and Purity in the Church (Psalms 120-123; I Corinthians 6)
August 25/Day 237
Security vs. Restlessness (Psalms 124-127; I Corinthians 7:1-24)
August 26/Day 238
Wisdom: Making Sense of Apparent Contradictions (Psalms 128-131; I Corinthians 7:25-40)
This schedule and devotionals are taken from my book Concealed and Revealed: A year in the old and new testaments. Available here. Have a great week in the Word.