Detoured for the Future
By Anthony Casperson
Over the past few weeks (or is it “months” yet?) we’ve been on a little bit of a detour of our normal lives. Things aren’t going the way that they usually would. Our rhythms have been thrown off. Everything seems to have changed.
There are new methods to be tried. New avenues to be explored. Some have even had to get entirely new career paths because of unfortunate difficulties outside of our control. A whole lot of changes. And we don’t really know what tomorrow will bring.
For many, this raises questions with regard to God’s purpose in our lives. What is it that he’s doing right now? Why are these things happening? How long until we don’t have to deal with this anymore? These questions revolve around the perspective of this current moment in time and how to get back to the way things used to be. The present and the past.
But I can’t help but think that perhaps we should have a more future perspective. And I don’t mean a “let’s look for when things will be good again” sort of thought. Rather, we should look at the present situation and ask how God will use things we’re learning now to accomplish his good in the future?
What could God be teaching me now to complete his plans after this difficulty of life?
My thoughts lead me to the life of Moses. Shortly after he was born, the Pharaoh commanded the death of every Hebrew male child 2 and under. Moses’ parents hid their infant son in a small boat-like basket, not knowing what would become of their child. Talk about a difficult moment of a lot of changes.
The daughter of the Pharaoh found the basket and adopted the child, only she needed a nurse for the baby, which Moses’ mother was able to step right up to do. Moses raised with the training of Egyptian politics, but an understanding of the truth of the Hebrew God.
There was difficulty in having another call Moses their son, while his true mother cared for his physical growth. But it would be used eventually by God for his good purpose of freeing the Israelites from slavery as Moses had to negotiate in an Egyptian court.
And we can’t forget about Moses’ exile from that very court, set between those two previously mentioned events. After killing a man who was abusing a couple of Hebrew slaves, he had to flee to the wilderness and pick up a whole new profession. Something that courtly politics would not aid in the slightest.
He became a wandering shepherd. Learning the new skill of leading a group of self-willed creatures in deserted places, and making sure that they could survive in the difficulties of that life. Skills that would come in handy when Moses led the Israelites through the desert, with the same goal, just a different flock. Self-willed people who easily wander away from safety because they do whatever they want. There’s a reason why God uses the image of sheep to describe us. We can often act like sheep.
Moses was detoured from leading his people so that he could learn how to lead them. He had to become a shepherd before he could shepherd his people in the manner God had prepared. And that shepherding detour took 40 years of Moses’ life. Makes you re-think the “pfft”-ing that many of you did when I mentioned at the start of this blog the “little” detour we’re experiencing right now, doesn’t it?
The good that God has for us, the plan that he’s weaving in our lives might be painful right now. It might feel like a detour that is meaningless other than for suffering. It might even feel like going totally in the wrong direction. But there are things that we are learning right now that can help us accomplish much for God in the future.
I don’t know what those specific lessons are for each individual reading this right now. God’s plan is multifaceted. He can teach one person how to perform one future function, all the while teaching another how to do another. The skills that we attain in every aspect of our lives, especially in the detours, will be used by God to fulfill his good purpose.
Rather than continually asking how long this difficult time is going to go on, or asking how can we get to the way things were, we should ask what is this moment preparing us for? If we look at these difficulties as preparation for the future, we might just find the detour to be purposeful all along. And who knows what God will do with it then.