Today at church we started a series on Detours, those moments you find yourself off the path of life. We all have them. Some detours just knock you a block over and some are severe, causing a journey far out of the way.
The pastor mentioned the route Israel took leaving Egypt and making their way to the Promised Land. It was not straight and direct. It was a “roundabout” way. It was a journey of internal work, progress of change through something not to something.
In this process we read that God leads with a hand outstretched. Pastor Jason Mitchell made an excellent observation that our view of God’s hand is usually one of two ways. It is either shaking hands in making a deal. Or the open and calming presence of a father to his child. Each one impacts your view of faith.
You may see God as a deal-maker. If I just _______ enough it will all work out, heal, go away, come back, pay off, jump on, add up, respond, whatever you may need. If I do what I need then God has to come through. When you have this view and a major detour strikes, your faith evaporates. You hang on the WHY question. Why did God not do what he’d promised when we made the deal. Why did God not come through.
When you see God as the father, your view shifts. You flip the question from Why is this happening to What does God want to do in me. The one question answers the other.
Fortunes have been made by pastors pushing God as deal maker. Books have been sold. Seminars booked. Checks cashed. There’s a power dynamic so appealing to people looking for control, for the deal offers control. If we can just be good enough, God will come through.
When Val and I dealt with a miscarriage in 2018, this was me. I had nothing to say to God. My deal maker hadn’t held up his end of the bargain. Even though I’d made progress, even though my faith had grown, even though I’d thought I’d matured as a believer, there was still work to be done.
This morning, the nail was driven home. I realized he was right. My pillars built up over the years were wrong. My God is not the one of the deal.
My God is one of outstretched hands with big dreams, plans and visions. Words that reach nations. Legacy with impact. My God is not the one of control. My path is not A to B. It is the roundabout journey through the desert.
Jesus offers no deals.
Follow me. Do Not Be Afraid. I have overcome the world.
So go forward and enjoy the work. When the detours come, know the job is not yet finished. You are still being refined for greater things. For life and life to the fullest.
For the journey not yet written, the path not yet taken, and bridges not yet built.