I tend to get stuck in my ways, so anything that diverts me from my routines and plans can be very annoying. Worse yet, life’s diversions are sometimes unsettling and painful. But God, who said, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways” (Isa. 55:8), knows that He often needs to divert us in order to make more of our lives than we would have if we had stuck to our original plans.
Traveling by bus from Memphis, Tennessee, to St. Louis, Missouri, typically takes about 6 hours—unless the bus driver leaves you stranded at a gas station. This happened to 45 passengers aboard a bus who waited 8 hours overnight for a replacement driver after the original driver abandoned them. They must have felt frustrated by the delay, anxious about the outcome, and impatient for rescue.
Under it. Over it. Around it. Through it. Nothing will stop me from doing it.” I often hear people express this kind of attitude when they get an idea or see an opportunity that seems good or profitable. They devote all of their resources to getting it done.
One early autumn morning as I drove to work in the dark, I was startled by a flash of brown in my headlights followed by the sound of something hitting the front of my car. I had clipped a deer at 70 miles per hour! It was only a glancing blow, and no damage was done to my car (or the deer, as far as I could tell), but it really shook me up. I had been in my usual “autopilot mode” for the familiar drive to the office, but the shock of the incident certainly got my attention. I was now fully alert and trying to calm a racing heartbeat. It was a most unpleasant wake-up call.
Katsushika Hokusai was one of the most prolific and celebrated artists in Japanese history. Between 1826 and 1833, when he was in his mid-60s and early 70s, he created his greatest work—a series of color woodblock prints titled Thirty-Six Views of Mt. Fuji. Among those paintings was his masterpiece: The Great Wave Off Kanagawa. This painting, created during a time of financial and emotional struggles for Hokusai, shows a towering wall of water edged with clawlike foam about to crash down on three slim boats full of rowers.
When I was a little girl, my aunt and uncle took me to Lake Michigan. While some of my cousins ventured far out into the waves, I played close to shore. Then my Uncle Norm asked me, “Can you swim?” “No,” I admitted. “Don’t worry,” he said. “I’ll take you out there.” “But it’s too deep,” I protested. “Just hang on to me,” he assured me. “Do you trust me?” Then I took his hand and we began to walk farther out into the lake.
The story is told of a young preach- er named Augustus Toplady, who was taking a walk through the English countryside when a sudden storm swept across the landscape. Toplady spotted a wide rock formation with an opening—a cleft—where he sought shelter until the storm passed. As he sat out the deluge, he contemplated the connection between his shelter and God’s help in life’s storms.
If Naomi had dreamed about return- ing to her former home prosperous and successful, entering Bethlehem would have been a nightmare. While living in a foreign land, she had lost her husband and two sons and returned with only her daughter-in-law Ruth and a heart full of sorrow. “Do not call me Naomi [pleasant]; call me Mara [bitter],” she told her former neighbors, “for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me” (Ruth 1:20).