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Reroute: Do you trust the GPS Girl more than God?

Google Map Re-route

We’re closing in on Sanibel. Of 1,408 miles from home, only 148 remain. Twenty hours down, two to go. Unless traffic suddenly comes to a dead stop on I-75 en route to Florida for spring break as it’s liable to do.

Unless that happens and I don’t take the reroute.

Reviewing

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. That’s how the writer of the book of Hebrews describes faith in chapter 11. Faith means trusting God when we can’t see the road ahead.

It’s been two years since we walked these beaches and soaked in this island sun and two years since that little stop off the causeway got me wondering if others can see how much we’ve grown.

I don’t know if others can. But in this one way, I think I’ve grown: I’m learning to embrace life’s reroutes faster.

I’m getting better at accepting changes in my plans. I mean, I’m learning to accept them gratefully like the reroutes that suddenly pop up on my screen.

If you use GPS or Google Maps, you know just what I mean.

Rerouting

Just shy of Chattanooga last night, that calm female voice broke in to say, “There is a delay on I-24 two miles ahead. Exit on state road 11 and save 37 minutes. Press yes to accept this reroute.”

I did. In a heartbeat I did. I gladly accepted that reroute.

Because I trust that the GPS Girl knows best. I trust Google’s eagle eye view of the roads. So I trust her completely with the way our van takes.

But sometimes I question whether God’s got my best route figured out. Sometimes I get thinking that interruptions in my time and deviations from my plans are beyond His view.

As if they could halt his plan. The Lord will perfect that which concerns me, Psalm 138:8 says. As if accidents and wrong turns and lost jobs ever catch God by surprise.

As if.

Reassuring

After 24 years with the same employer, my husband’s job ends next month. After giving thousands of eye exams, the optical is in bankruptcy and this job is over. Paycheck ends, insurance ends, this stability ends.

We don’t know what’s next. The road ahead is unknown.

We all like stability. We like to know the route, the plan. It’s the uncertainty that’s killing me, we say as we await a lab result or a call back. It’s this not knowing what’s ahead that’s hard.

[A]nd he will be the stability of your times, abundance of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge, the fear of the Lord is Zion’s treasure. That’s the comfort the prophet Isaiah provides God’s afflicted children (33:6).

Here’s where my relationship the GPS Girl helps me trust God. When make a wrong turn or the road gets blocked ahead, the GPS Girl doesn’t get mad. She doesn’t yell at me or go silent. She provides stability.

If we have ears to hear, we’ll hear her say in that same calm, composed way: Recalculating.

Recalculating

In her steady, calm way, she reassures, It’ll take a little longer, but I’ll get you there. Wrong turn, missed exit, accident- no matter, I’ll still get you there.

But the analogy between the GPS Girl and God breaks down here, because God never has to recalculate. He knew your days before you were born.

Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory. That’s where Asaph lands at the end of Psalm 73, after he envied the prosperity of the wicked. Like when I envied the drivers that zipped along on the right shoulder while we waited at a dead stop north of Nashville.

Nevertheless. I love that nevertheless. Because I make wrong turns and because other people’s accidents affect my travel. They change my plans and slow me down.

Nevertheless…I guide you. Like the GPS Girl. She doesn’t get mad at me when wrong turns and accidents happen. She doesn’t give up either. We hear her say,Re-calculating.

And we hear God say: Trust me. I’ll guide you. There is another way.

Re-route map

That’s why Corrie ten Boom’s words makes sense, Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.

Because He sees the road ahead. Because reroutes don’t come by chance, but from God’s loving and wise fatherly hand.

Resting

Faith is relying on God’s love and resting in him when we face reroutes. Faith is seeing God’s hand. Growing in faith is seeing his hand more and faster, more and more cheerfully

Author and theologian, Joel Beeke explains,

Faith sees God’s hand everywhere, unbelief sees God’s hand nowhere; not in big things or in small, everyday things.

If we see God’s hand we realize that we are dependent on him. This is maturity- to realize we need him.


I believe and help my unbelief. Because, truth be told, sometimes I trust the GPS Girl more than the Almighty God. I wonder about the route to Jim’s next job. But instantly I press accept and off we go on a scenic detour of Lookout Mountain outside Chattanooga.

I want to trust God like this, because he sees the road ahead better, and he’s got my best interest in heart. We cannot always trace God’s hand,Spurgeon said, but we can always trust God’s heart. I want to rest in that.

Because He knows the way I take. And he knows all the roads in front of me more than the GPS Girl.

So how could I trust him less?

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you. 

Psalm 32:8

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The Flat on the Way to the Fair: Faith, Fire and Why Trials Come

God will take you where you do not want to go to produce in you what you cannot achieve on your own. –Paul Tripp

Inefficiency. Futility. Wasted time. Those are villains in my kingdom, three of my greatest foes. And they all piled into the van with me yesterday

9:30- The dew was still on the clovers and we-Cream Puff vouchers in hand- were off, like barn clothes after chores. State Fair was one of a handful of “non-negotiables” on our summer calendar; a taste of good Midwestern fun for our Korean exchange son, Ki-Bum. 

State Fair or Bust.

9:45- KER-PFUMP, KER-PFUMP, KER-PFUMP, KER-PFUMP.  So our right rear tire unceremoniously gave up its ghost. And the van came to rest along a lovely bachelor button-ed strand of I-43.

Rare, declared Ki-Bum knowingly. I nodded.  

Now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials…

Thankfully, Jim picked up the phone. We have roadside assistance, he assured,  Can you find the card? 

I did. And was soon informed that help would arrive within the hour. A little while. Various trials. 

Hey Mom, can we watch some Get Smart?  Gabe piped up, as his fearful tears dried. I brought them along, just in case. And Agents 86 and 99 and the old “Spy in the dog suit, phone in the tie” tricks passed three boys’ time. Now I can get a jump on those email. 

11:00- A Nissan pickup stopped behind us. Never mind that the tow truck was on another call or the four larger towns with towing services closer than this town. Not this guy’s fault.

These older vans with spares underneath- they can be a bear to release, Scott explained as he turned the giant screw driver round and round. But the spare wouldn’t drop. So he jacked us up and worked below while I worked that stubborn screw from above.

Well, I’m sorry. Scott finally said. If I had the tow truck, I could probably break it  loose, but the cable’s corroded. And maybe  this time ask for Rhode’s when you call. They’re just right up the road.

11:20- Scott rode off in his rugged Pathfinder.

…So that the tested genuineness of your faith- 

As  Agent 99 assisted 86, an agent three states away assisted me. I calmly described the first failed attempt  to put on the spare. And maybe Rhode’s  Service this time? I heard they’re in your network and just a a mile or two up the road.

May I put you on hold? she asked. 

Ms. Wallace? We have located roadside service for you. It’s the same shop as the first, but this time they’ll come with a tow truck. They should arrive in 45 minutes.

11:30- Here’s where my faith  faltered: Really? Really? You can’t find anyone closer? East Troy? Elkhorn? Waterfod? Burlington? Rhode’s is right up the road! I’ve been here almost two hours and there’s a town with a towing service a mile away. Scott-who you sent first -told me. 

Yes, Ms. Wallace. Your service should arrive within 45 minutes. They’ll be able to tow your vehicle, but you’ll need to secure a ride home. 

-More precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire-

Tow it back? I just have a flat. The spare is right here. Their shop is 30 minutes south. We’re headed 30 minutes north- to the fair. And I’m supposed to secure a ride? 

Yes. I’m sorry, Ms. Wallace. Your tow should be there in 45 minutes. Is there anything else I can do for you?

Images of cream puffs and jersey cows and racing rabbits danced out of my head. Unlikely, I said.

11:40- What to my wondering eyes should appear but a Rhode’s tow truck behind me right here! Forget 45- this took 10!  I leapt from my seat to meet the Ken. He glanced at the flat, then down at his phone, Oh wait. You’re not the red ’05 Escape, are you?  

That’s probably the one up there, I said, pointing to the SUV that stopped on the shoulder a half hour after we had.

Sorry, ma’am. That’s the one I came for. Maybe I’ll check in with you after.  And Ken inched his truck up to the red ’05 Escape just ahead.

…May be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Chaos agents had captured Maxwell Smart and 99.

11:45- Jim, This is crazy. I’m waiting for the same towing service that couldn’t help me to come back as I watch a tow truck from a garage 2 minutes away helping a a vehicle 300 yards ahead. And Rhode’s does partner with our roadside assistance- Scott and Ken both told me so and how do I find a ride when they tow the van? 

Hon. I’ll see what I can do. Maybe Merten’s can tow you back to town. Sorry about the fair. 

God will take you where you do not want to go – or stall you where you do not want to stay- to produce in you what you cannot achieve on your own.

12:00- I paused my pity-party just long enough to see Ken’s truck backing toward us.

12:05 -Bring ‘er on up, Ken urged. So I eased the van onto the flatbed and all five of us crammed into the cab. Rare, I told Ki-Bum. And before Ken and I could connect all the dots around my Uncle Kevin who had been Ken’s friend, we were stopped in Rhode’s lot.

12:30- On the road again. State Fair or Bust. Or whatever’s necessary.

Why Trials Come

I wish I could say that Paul Tripp quote guided me through the flat. But I absolutely cannot.

But thank God, I can see it in the rear-view. I can see the grumbling, ungrateful, proud, impatient dross that tarnished my faith and needed boiling off. It was necessary.

So God allowed the blow-out. Then he sent Scott, without a tow truck, and Ken to the red ’05 SUV in front of us. He held off Rhode’s from up the road. All of it was in his good plan, to purify the precious faith He loves so much, a faith of greater worth than gold.

So why do trials come? I’ll answer that one with three more from Paul Tripp:

What kind of Messiah do you want? Do you want a Messiah that will deliver to you your ever-morphing definition of what would make you happy? Do you want your Messiah to make your kingdom work or do you want a Messiah to welcome you to a better kingdom?

I don’t know about you, but I want Him to welcome me to a better kingdom than my own efficient, productive, no-wasted-time little kingdom. More even than an idyllic morning at my beloved State-Fair kingdom. Way, way more.

A Sure Sign Of His Love

So I’m with Tripp: We’d better quit naming our trials and difficulties as a sign of God’s unfaithfulness and inattention. In the life of a believer those trials are a sure sign of His faithful, persevering, redemptive love. And with the Getty’s too: When trials will come, no longer fear, For in the pain our God draws near, To fire a faith worth more than gold, And there His faithfulness is told. 

God will trouble and shake us and allow trials that boil our faith, not because he’s mean and capricious but because he loves us and wants to welcome us to a more glorious kingdom. But it might feel dangerous, because he won’t relent until our faith is refined. Until we glisten with the image of His beloved Son.

Waiting in the van, I heard the Chief of Control say, Max, you realize that you’ll be facing every kind of danger imaginable? Max replied, And  loving it. 

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith- more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire- may be found to result in praise and glory and honor.
 1 Peter 1:6-7

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Gabriel Speaks

I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news.

Luke 1:19b

Some of you know this story, but lots of you do not. And this is of all the days the best day to tell it. So here it goes.

Once upon on time, ten years ago today- but it truly began nine months before that or really even eight or seven
Yes, it was ten years plus seven months ago, Gabriel, when you first made your presence known.

But I really must rewind

Because it was ten years before these last ten years-

Twenty whole years ago, it was

In January when Dad and I- we two, were joined as one.

For most of those first ten years (Big brother came by plane after nine)

We hoped and prayed and tried (how we hoped and prayed and tried, and too much, I think, I cried)

And doctors consulted, tried this and that, and poked around inside

But all their methods failed- it just wasn’t the right time.

And empty wombs like empty stomachs sometimes ache 

But God’s children run their race and walk by faith and trust the promises true-

That our trials produce steadfastness and character and a hope that will not disappoint

That  no good thing will He withhold and they that wait upon the Lord will be renewed.

So we stopped the procedures and we ceased striving and tried less hard.

But still in faith we prayed, in His love we hoped, and life kept racing on

Then one fall- that fall Aunt Char and I decided, Sure, let’s run it all.

And I remember how

That September, my coffee didn’t taste as good and I was suddenly ready for bed by seven

Then came October, and snow,

But we sisters plowed on and  drove six hours north

To run that 26.2 mile course.

(Run we did -we three, the third, still unbeknownst to me- and we finished the race in four hours, give or take.)

Next week I took a test I’d taken a dozen or more times before

But this time, the stripes said YES, YES, YES- it’s true

Your frame was being finely woven by then for eight whole weeks

But that was when I first found out for sure about you.

And now tonight, ten-year old son,  I pinch myself and think how loud your name rings true

You are our YES  to countless prayers that God would grant us love’s sweet fruit

Your presence with your brother “HEARD OF GOD” was so good we prayed for more

But God, for righteous reasons only He knows

Has not again opened to us that door.

You are no angel, but still you are a messenger to tell

That God alone sets the times and the seasons and even the days

And that no good thing does He withhold

That His ways are not our ways (and that is all okay).

It’s been ten years today since I laid eyes on that long-lashed, lovely baby boy- and I never want to forget the messages I heard then

That we’d best keep running and look to Jesus even when we ache a lot.

That it’s when we cease striving that we can know that He is  God

And that the best gifts can’t be bought.

Because, after all, Who is like the Lord our God who sits on high and humbles himself to behold things in heaven and on earth? 

That’s is good news God sent you to tell us Gabriel, messenger of God.

Who is like the LORD our God,

Who dwells on high,

Who humbles himself to behold

Things in the heavens and in the earth?

He raises the poor out of the dust,

And lifts the needy out of the ash heap,

He gives the barren woman a home,

Making her the joyous mother of children.

Praise the LORD!

Psalm 113:5-7, 9

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The Hardest Part: Waiting is not an interruption. It is God’s plan.


From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear, no eye has seen a God besides you, who works for those who wait for him.  Isaiah 64:4

When, Mom? How many more hours until they come? 

The party starts in 9 hours and 23 minutes, Gabe.

Is that a long time, Mom? 

Yes, Gabe.

Now jump back 2,000 years.  Think of the disciples  Just imagine their wait. The risen Christ had appeared twice to the disciples. But it wasn’t the same as before. Don’t cling to me, he’d said. I go.  I am ascending to my Father and yours, he’d told Mary outside the tomb.
But Jesus wasn’t totally gone. He left the disciples but hadn’t ascended yet, Between the surprise dinner date on Day 8 and Ascension on Day 40, there was a wait. Can you imagine their restless,  upper room, what should we do now wait?  

Peter went fishing. Gabe went out to play.

Waiting is our set stage.

Some friends of ours have been waiting a long time in the adoption line. They’d already waited awhile even before they “announced” their double Russian referrals to our Bible study with adorable, baby-blue frosted airplane cookies. That was almost four years before this. Before US-Russian relations dropped and our friends’ boy referrals did too.

But they kept waiting. And months later, a referral for another boy from another country came. But he was not to be their son either.  They didn’t step out of the queue. Finally, a few months ago, our friends accepted another referral. They’re still waiting.

Last month my friend posted this update:

We’ve moved on to the next step of waiting for approval! This did mean a flurry of things had to happen, including paperwork to get his visa and social security number, which meant [we] had to settle on what we were going to do about his name. 

I’ve read the wait doesn’t stop once you’re matched, traveling or back home. Considering we’ve been in the waiting stage (of various types) for a looooong time now, it was good to read that we might just never truly leave that stage and to mentally prepare for that.

You never truly leave that stage. She gets it. This side of heaven, we wait. It’s inescapable. At the store, at the stoplight we wait. From a seven-year old’s count-down to be eight to an eighty-seven year old’s count-down to be clothed, all creation waits.

Not An Interruption

For the Christian, waiting is where it’s at.

Our lives are on God’s stage. His choice crew are the Sanctified Waiters. Like Simeon, who waited for the consolation of Israel, and Joseph of Arimathea, who waited for the Kingdom of God.  It’s where God shows up and shows himself strong. It’s the where we see God act. Surely no one has a seen like ours who works for those who wait for him.  

For the Christian, writes Paul Tripp, waiting is not an interruption of the plan. It is the plan. Waiting is hard full of good. It’s Romans eight.

We ourselves who have the firstfruits of the Spirit groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoptions as son, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with wait for it with patience(23-25).  

Knowing that it’s part of God’s good plan doesn’t make it easy. Tom Petty’s lines are timeless, the waiting is the hardest part. We’re right there with Job- God’s servant Job-when we cry, What strength do I have, that I should still hope? And what are my prospects that I should be patient? (Job 6:11)

It takes great strength to wait. Weak people cave. David knew the connection. Be strong, and let your heart take courage and wait for the LORD (27:14). God gives strength to the weary not after we wait but while we wait. While we we groan inwardly, we wait eagerly. That’s a Romans 8 wait.

Worth The Wait

We appreciate more who most patiently wait. The hours fasting before dinner make it that much tastier. Planning the trip is half the fun. When we wait, we gain, what Jane Austen called, “that sanguine expectation of happiness which is happiness itself.” Maybe it’s not quite that sublime, but it’s true that anticipation of a good thing ahead eases the ache.

But there is still the ache. Waiting is a slow burn with undisclosed outcomes and uncertain timeframes. It tests our patience and tries our faith.

Waiting brings out old idols and can push us toward new ones, like control and self-pity and food and drink abuse too. We say, But if I only knew. It’s this not knowing that makes it so hard.  

In His Place, At His Pace is Hard. And Good.

Yes? And at the risk of sounding curt and rude, I add. That’s exactly what waiting is. Waiting is hard.

It’s hard and good.  We feel how hard it is. But we need to know it’s good, because we might not feel that.

Waiting is good because our willingness to wait reveals the value we place on that for which we wait. When we wait for God- as John Piper puts it, in his place and at his pace-we show the world that He is worth the wait.

The watching world-the audience to our waiting stage, sees God’s great worth when we don’t forge ahead with our own plans. But they are stubborn children, God declared through his prophet Isaiah, who carry out a plan, but not mine, and who make an alliance, but not of my Spirit, that they may add sin to sin. They see it when we look to food and drink and worthless things and desperately ally ourselves to sinful things. When we tell ourselves, The end justifies the means. God will understand. The watching world sees this too.

So we who would be meek and sanctified waiters had best be on guard, Because waiting tempts us two big ways.

Two Waiting Temptations

Waiting can tempt us too take a rash detour– to get on with our plan and away from the wait- or to give up altogether. I’ve known both.

We were married ten years before God opened my womb. Mostly I despised that wait in such a barren place, God’s place, I’ve come to see. How longingly I looked at methods that offered life, but at far too high a price. Were it not for Jim’s resolve, I might have taken this detour, taken things into my own hands, taken up a plan, but not his. Only by God’s grace did I stay in his place. 

Those friends of ours? A few days ago they got “the call.” After years on the domestic stage, they fly in sixteen days. When God says move, I guess you move, my friend wrote. By his grace, they go at his pace. 

This is why we, who he created for his glory, are here. We are on this waiting stage to showcase his grace, to show others that the glory of our God is worth our wait.  I waited patiently for the LORD, he inclined to me and heard my cry. Many will see and fear, and put their hope in the LORD (Psalm 40:1,3). 

The off-stage watchers will see us wait for our God to act and, the Psalmist said, will put their hope in our Lord too.

Wait is not waste. (I.e., The queue has a view.)

Waiting increases faith. God wants to be in deep, faith relationship with us. If he didn’t care so much about that relationship, explains Paul Maxwell,

…He would give you everything you wanted immediately. He would placate you with the pleasures of this world. For those who know God, that is intuitively unlike him — not unlike him to bless, but unlike him to appease. God did not send his Son to propitiate your temper tantrum (Rom 3:25).

Because he loves you, God will not bless you so richly that you do not have to trust him. He blesses you seasonally, proportionately, and incrementally, because he wants to bestow you with both the gift itself and the gift of faith, and never the former without the latter. CCEF counselor Ed Welch observes, “Such prosperity would be a curse.” 

What are you waiting for? Your house to sell or to finally be well? A conception at last or a loved one to pass? Outcome of a tick bite or solid sleep through the night? Change in our nation or a dear one’s salvation? For family peace or conflict to cease? Take heart: The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul that seeks him (Lamentations 3:25).

Wait for it. Wait for Him. Stay the course. And remember, right now, at this very second, The eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is whole toward him (2 Chronicles 16:9)

God is looking to help you wait well. Which means we don’t lose heart. We do the next thing.

Do the next thing.  

Back 2,000 years ago to Peter.

Somewhere between week two and day forty, after leaving peace with the locked-in Eleven, Jesus appeared to seven.  And he revealed himself this way:

Simon Peter, Thomas, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples were together. Simon Peter said to the, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out into the boat, but that night they caught nothing (John 21:2-3).

They did the next thing. They were still waiting. Peter did some his place and at his pace, be strong, take heart and wait for the Lord waiting. “Do the next thing” waiting.

Remember what happened then?

Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, do you have any fish?” They answered him, “No.” He said to them, “Cast the net n the right side of the boat and you will find some.”

The rest is history. Peter strips down, throws himself into the sea and catches 153. They see the Lord for whom they’ve waited. And guess what? He’s been in control all along. While they were waiting in the boat, doing the next thing, Jesus was on the shore working for them.

When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out on it, and bread…Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” And Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish. This was now the third time Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead (John 21:9,12-14). 

What a God! He works while we wait. He serves his servants and calls them his friends.

So while we bide our time in and on this waiting stage, let’s “keep ourselves in the love of God as we wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life” (Jude 21). 

Because one glorious day, we will exit this stage- the Director will write us off- and we will say, You were worth the wait. 

“Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us.
This is the LORD; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”
Isaiah 25:9