Twelve years ago, our daughter was getting ready to graduate from college with a health sciences degree. She wasn’t sure of what she should do after graduation, so a friend who had already walked that path told her to get her EMT license and work in an emergency room in order to gain some experience and some insight into the medical field. She got her EMT license during her senior year of college.
Shortly before our daughter’s graduation, my friend and I were at Sam’s Club shopping for a big church dinner. We were standing at the cooler choosing heads of lettuce when another shopper joined us. This other shopper was a caterer, and soon the three of us were talking away. We found out as we chatted that she had a grandson with autism. I told her about our Aaron, and off we went sharing some similar concerns. I had noticed that this woman was wearing a work shirt from one of our large local hospitals, and embroidered on the front were the words, “ER Services.”
I told her how my daughter sure would love to work at that ER and that she planned to apply soon. This woman took out some paper as she asked me what Andrea’s name was. She then gave me a phone number for Andrea to call as well as the woman’s name that Andrea should speak to. When Andrea was able to call some time later, this woman said, “Oh yes, Andrea. I have your file here on my desk.” Andrea was so surprised! “What file?” she thought. Seems the woman I had met talked to this person and they started a file before even talking to Andrea. It was amazing! Andrea interviewed and got the job right away.
As time went on and several years passed, Andrea had gained much experience at that job as well as two others before being accepted into grad school. She was finally sure that molecular biology/genetics was where she wanted to focus. But it was easy to wonder if all the time and energy devoted to the ER and a doctor’s office was a waste. But since that time, she has seen over and over that her clinical experience gave her advantages and opened doors that she never realized would happen.
As believers and followers of Christ, we know that if we are walking in obedience to the Lord then nothing is a waste. We know in our head that “ALL things work together for good.” But sometimes it’s easy to lose sight of that promise when the steps we’re taking are uncertain and even painful. What we know in our head often doesn’t reach our hearts very easily.
I liken it to looking ahead as we walk but seeing no clear path. It reminds me of our walkway in our back yard. In one direction there is no path.
But when I look behind me, I see how the bricks were carefully laid to make a clear walkway.
We put one foot in front of the other as we launch out into the unknown. Really, each new day is unknown to us. We have no idea what will happen to us in any given day. What is important is to walk in obedience to God as we trust Him to open and shut doors.
As the days and the years pass by, we too can look behind us and see how all things fit together in our life to make a beautiful pattern. Each piece fits just where God meant it to fit.
But sometimes the beauty comes as a result of great pain. God’s purposes are often more fully accomplished through suffering.
In Acts 23, the Apostle Paul was arrested for preaching the gospel. Through a series of events he was transferred from Jerusalem to Caesarea, and from there to Rome. All along the journey, Paul was able to preach the gospel to the highest levels of government. A normal missionary journey would probably not have opened those doors, but Paul’s suffering and imprisonment did provide the opening for sharing the gospel in ways unthought of and unplanned by Paul.
D.L. Bock writes about how this incident in Paul’s life was rooted in God’s providence. But he adds that providence does not always mean physical rescue. “It is one of the mysteries of providence that many times we cannot see why things are happening as they are. Yet God is surely at work in ways that we could not have planned for ourselves.”
May each of us, as we find ourselves at the end of our known and seen path…as we get ready to walk into the uncharted areas of life…fully trust that God knows best.
If we could push ajar the gates of life,
And stand within, and all God’s working see,
We might interpret all this doubt and strife,
And for each mystery could find a key.
But not today. Then be content poor heart;
God’s plans, like lilies pure and white, unfold.
We must not tear the close-shut leaves, apart –
Time will reveal the calyxes of gold.
And when, through patient toil, we reach the land
Where tired feet, with sandals loosed, may rest,
There we shall truly know and understand,
And there shall gladly say, ‘Our God knows best.’ (Anon.)