A SURPRISING ARROW
As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.
Wisdom knows that faith matters more than instincts.
With the joy of being healed by Jesus and no longer being possessed by a demon, the man eagerly wanted to serve God. His first assumption was that he would travel with his Lord. He had concluded his future plans in his mind before he consulted God. Have you ever done that? What happened? He begged to go with Jesus but was denied. Instead, Jesus explained to the man that he needed to return home and tell everyone what the Lord had done. Like a traffic sign with an arrow on it, the directional message was clear. God’s mercy spreading in new ways to the man’s home region was a positive result of his unexpected redirection. As you drive your car, you probably pay attention to signs with arrows because they are given to help guide you. When God places a detour sign in your life, it is always a good arrow that is intended to enhance your navigation.
I never dreamed I would become a Christian. When I began to follow Jesus, I convinced myself I would not share my faith because I felt it was obnoxious and annoying to other people. I am thankful God changed me. The first person I led to Jesus was a boy named Derrick in Bakersfield, California. Ironically, my friends were reaching out to people in some apartments while I was waiting in the parking lot until they finished. I did not feel like talking to anyone, let alone sharing my faith. Derrick approached me and in a matter of minutes brought up the topic of wanting to learn more about Jesus. Within thirty minutes of talking, he made a decision to follow Jesus for the first time. I was stunned and simultaneously empowered. As a result of our interaction, both of us were transformed by God.
God also surprised me as he led me into ministry; it was not on my radar. I had other plans for my life. When I first began working in a church, I never envisioned being a senior pastor. My wife and I never anticipated being led to serve in Northern California. Fortunately, His script prevailed at each step of the journey, often in spite of my initial preferences. I am thrilled now with God’s plan, but I did not see it coming (Proverbs 3:5-6).
How many times has God surprised you with His direction? As you grow in your faith, you begin to desire God’s leadership even more than your own inferior plans. Your first inclination might be in alignment with God’s design, but it can also be misleading. You can choose to move beyond your pride that insists it has solutions better than God’s plan. You can overcome your fears that tell you it is too risky and foolish to trust God.
After all, it is easier to follow God than it is to try to convince Him to follow you. How many times have I attempted that plan? Jesus reassures you that He is gentle, humble, and His ways include peace for your soul. (Matthew 11:28-30). Take comfort in what God has spoken to you: “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you” (Psalm 32:8).
How has God redirected you; and did it make sense down the road?
For more from Pastor Jesse Bradley and Activate Media Ministries, visit www.activatelife.org