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Apr 9, 2011

Daily Decisions and Detours

Making Daily Decisions

Journalist David Brinkly once said, “A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him.” I apologize for not writing lately, but I’ve been dealing with more bricks being thrown at me. I’m trying to be a successful man by Mr. Brinkley’s definition, but lately I’ve mostly just been ducking and waiting for the next volley coming my way. I finally looked up and realized I haven’t posted anything here in over three weeks.

At my lunch Bible study this week, I heard something that helped snap me back into action with purposeful joy in my ongoing walk. At our FUEL men’s group, Pastor Jay Austin concluded his lesson with a statement that got my attention. He told us that “Life is not a destination, but a series of daily decisions.” He shared how he had reached a peak in his career and ministry success fourteen years ago. He said that for him, if he viewed those accomplishments as God’s sole purpose and destination in his life, then his life was over fourteen years ago! But instead, he now sees his calling as serving the needs of his wife and children, shepherding those in his church, and reaching out to people he meets in the community all around him.

For me, this statement struck home as it applied to how I have viewed so much of my purpose and calling as my sons’ father. But as I’ve written previously, my opportunity to act in that role on a daily basis was finally taken away from me almost two years ago. So Pastor Jay’s challenge to me would be, if I viewed God’s calling and sole purpose to be raising my boys, then my life would be over, or at least indefinitely on hold.

But praise God, my life is far from over! I am blessed with a wonderful wife who somehow loves me for just who I am. I have a wonderful step-daughter who needs me and makes me feel like a father. As I have grown through my trials I’ve also been given a new calling on my heart to help other men in their growth as men of God.

But sometimes, when I can’t help but be overwhelmed by missing my sons, or worrying about them, or getting angry over various situations, it takes a daily decision on my part to accept what has happened, to be thankful for my new life, and to fully embrace the joys and new challenges God has placed before me.

Detours, U-Turns, and Rest Stops on Our Road Through Life

When we take trips and use our navigation system in the car, we start by plugging in our final destination. Once the route is computed, I’ve learned to trust our electronic navigator and follow it’s directions one turn at a time. Every so often, it tells me to turn down a road I didn’t expect. I thought my route was straight ahead, but it’s telling me to turn. Over time, I’ve realized that by this little device knowing about hazards on my route like accidents and traffic, I can usually trust it to get me to my destination by the best and safest route.

If God will pardon me for comparing his providence to a satellite navigation system, I’m sure we can trust God to direct our life more than the most expensive Garmin or Tom Tom. For one thing, God knows our final destination in life and has already programmed it for us. And he knows the best path to reach it, including all the pit stops, detours, and side roads we may have to take for us to reach that goal fully equipped and sanctified, ready to do his will with our lives wherever he takes us.
"In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths." Proverbs 3:6
Sometimes we still question God when we’re not sure where he’s taking us. When my wife first got her GPS system and was still learning some of its advanced features, she tried plugging in multiple destinations along a single route. At one point along the way, it directed her to make a U-turn. A block later, it told her to turn around again. After going down the same road a third time, it sent her back again. She finally realized that the system was taking her right to the first address she had entered but it wasn’t telling her to stop there so she kept driving right by it.

Sometimes we can make the same mistake in trying to follow God’s path for our lives. He has a final destination set for us, but he also has lots of stops scheduled along the way where he intends for us to learn something, gain some needed wisdom or maturity, or maybe just rest for a while. But if we’re not alert and open to God’s leading, we might keep driving right by that important waypoint in life, too focused on what we perceive as our intended destination. When we do, God may send us a U-turn and take us right back to where we need to be until we’re ready to move on. Remember, what may appear to us to be a detour is more likely just the next turn in God's perfect plan for our lives.
“Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.” Prov 19:21
A wise friend of mine just suggested to me that when we don’t reach our goals on the schedule we expected, it may be because God isn’t done with us where we are. In these times, we would be wise to make a daily decision to embrace our lives where God has placed us, learn all we can, serve others around us, and glorify God through our gratitude, joy, obedience, and daily dependence on him.

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