September 7, 2016
When Life Doesn’t Turn Out Like You Thought It Would
“Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you” (Psalm 9:10 NIV).
Friend to Friend
My bags were packed. My passport was up to date. My feet were itching to get started.
For more than a year, my husband and I had planned a trip to Italy, Greece, and Turkey with six of our closest friends. We had plotted our course, prepared our travel, and saved our pennies. This was a big deal for us—for me. I was going to stand on the very mount in Athens where Paul preached one of my favorite verses: “In Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). We were going to explore the catacombs where some of our very first brothers and sisters in Christ were buried and walk the very steps of Paul in Ephesus.
When the day finally arrived, we flew to Rome to spend three days before setting sail to Greece. Rome did not disappoint: the Coliseum, the Appian Way, the aqueducts, and the catacombs. I had to pinch myself to make sure I was really there.
The night before boarding the ship, I celebrated by eating some local fish that was a little too fishy. In the wee hours of the morning my body commenced rejecting the contents of my digestive system in every unpleasant way possible. I’d experienced this before. I knew what it was. Food poisoning.
Being a good trooper, I crawled into the shuttle van the next morning with our band of explorers, closed my eyes, and proceeded to the ship terminal for the next leg of our journey. We arrived at the dock and joined the throng of other vacationers being herded through the roped check-in lanes. One of the attendants handed me a short form to complete for admittance. And there it was. The question.
“Have you experienced vomiting in the past 48 hours?”
I looked at the paper.
I looked at my carefree expectant friends.
I looked at the beckoning ship with my name on it.
I looked at my wary husband—questioning without a word.
I took a deep breath.
I checked “yes.”
When I handed my boarding papers to the customer service representative, she took one look at the box checked “yes,” and spoke through a forced smile. “Ma’am, please step aside,” she said with a thick Italian accent. “I’ll be back in a moment.”
A few minutes later, the ship nurse appeared. She took my temperature, and asked me to please move to another area of the terminal. I explained to her about the fishy fish, the food poisoning, and the dehydration that caused my temperature to be elevated one-degree. She just nodded, took a few notes, and then disappeared into the belly of the ship.
After twenty minutes or so, she returned. “I’m sorry, ma’am” she began, “you cannot board this ship. You have been denied passage. You are not fit to sail. We cannot take the risk that you will infect the other passengers. You need to go home.”
Let that sink in for just a moment. You are not “fit to sail.” You have been “denied passage.” You need to “go home.”
Steve and I were crushed as our broken-hearted friends walked across the gangplank, disappeared into the ship’s hull, and sailed away without us.
Have you ever been in a similar situation? Maybe not being denied passage on the trip of a lifetime, but perhaps being rejected by an employer, a project manager or a publisher. A broken engagement. A crumbled marriage. A wayward child. A negative pregnancy test. A sudden death. A shattered dream.
Perhaps you’ve prepared, planned and prayed. You can almost reach out and touch your ship, almost taste the salty air of success, almost feel the gentle sway of passage. But then, someone whose opinion matters shows up and declares that you are not “fit to sail.” They deny you passage on the ship you know was meant for you, and tell you to “go home.” They decide, “It’s over.”
Perhaps you’ve felt the gut-wrenching disappointment of rejection. The heart-crushing discouragement of apparent failure. The realization that life has just not turned out like you thought it would. If so, you’re not alone.
I’m going to share the rest of this story tomorrow, but for now, let’s just ponder this thought. When things don’t go as you had hoped, does that mean you just give up? Pick up your marbles and go home? Or do you press on and try again?
No matter what you’re going through here’s a truth to hang your hat on: “Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you” Psalm 9:10 NIV
Heavenly Father, sometimes life does not turn out like I thought it would and I get mad, hurt, or discouraged. When things don’t go my way, help me to take a deep breath, pray to stay calm, and take the next step. Help me not to lose hope in seemingly hopeless situations.
In Jesus’ Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
Can you think of a time in your life when your plans fell through in a big way?
How do you think the disciples felt when Jesus was dead and buried?
I’m not talking about just being sad. What did this event do to their hopes and dreams?
How did God surprise them and surpass their dreams?
Here are some power verses to hang onto when you feel like you’re hanging on to a thread.
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7
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