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My Life Didn’t Turn Out The Way I Expected
Robert Redford played a character named Roy Hobbs in The Natural. His promising baseball career ends tragically prematurely when he is shot by a deranged woman. Hobb’s dream of becoming a successful baseball player is revived and he attempts a comeback late in life. His statement to his wife sums up his feelings: “My life has not turned out as I expected.”
The quote resonates with almost everyone who has lived long enough to experience the disappointments that are inevitable. A forty-five-year-old man contacted a former high school classmate, a girl he had once dated and even discussed marriage with. It was fun and interesting to catch up after a few decades of no communication. But her revelations to him did not bring him any satisfaction, instead he felt depressed. He was finally married. Her husband was a very successful businessman. She found great fulfillment in her three children and lived in a luxurious home in California. She had traveled abroad, in fact, she and her husband had country homes in Ireland and Italy. Instead, her former beau was a simple man living a simple life. He was driving an old truck. He never married and had no children. The conversation made him say to himself, “My life hasn’t turned out the way I expected.”
Perhaps you have said as much. Has your life taken an unexpected detour? Did you think you would always be beautiful and athletic? Have you ever dreamed of being financially independent one day? Did you fail to get married or did your marriage fail? Did you think your addicted child would become a doctor or lawyer? Have you lost a parent or child to an unexpected death? Do you now have health problems that have taken away the joy in life that you think you deserve?
It is difficult to come to terms with the fact that we carry a lot of pain on ourselves. We often end up where we are because we made a choice back at the fork in the road. We are often warned about this in Scripture: “Be not deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. He who sows to please his sinful nature will from that nature reap destruction; he who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit he will reap eternal life.” (Gal. 6:7-8) “I have observed that those who plow evil and those who sow trouble reap it.” (Job 4:8) Roy Hobbs, The Natural, said, “Some mistakes you never stop paying for.” When we find ourselves reaping the consequences for our past decisions, the best thing we can do is repent and ask God’s forgiveness. our lives are all twisted because we trusted our own plans, it’s time to trust the Master Architect to reveal a better plan that will bring us contentment and satisfaction.
One thing we should all have learned from Harold Camping’s recent false prophecy, “You can’t put God in a box.” When God points us in a new direction, we are tempted to try to put limitations on it. We say things like, “this is too big for me to handle” or “this is impossible”. So do you feel doubt and defeat when God asks you to walk an unexpected path? Paul resisted these feelings when he said, “I can do all things through him that strengtheneth me.” (Philippians 4:13) If you hear God whisper something incredible, something that seems impossible, you know that others have heard him whisper before. “Noah, build a boat in the desert.” Say what!?! “Moses, led 2 million slaves out of Egypt.” We tend to make excuses because we approach God’s request with our own humanity and envision trying to complete his instruction with our own strength. He wants us to trust him as he miraculously turns our weakness into his strength.
If we can gather the courage to say, “Here I am, Lord, send me” when we hear his whisper, then Satan will immediately try to guide us. It was during the fourth watch of the night that Jesus approached the ship holding a group of frightened disciples. He comforted them by saying: “Take courage! It’s me. Don’t be afraid.” Peter, the impulsive disciple replied, “Lord, if it is you, tell me to come to you on the water.” Peter got out of the boat and performed a miracle. He walked on water.
But then things started to go wrong. Peter took his eyes off Jesus and began to look at the rolling waves and began to feel the wind that was blowing. As he went down, he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out to rescue him.
God will ask us to do some great things, but to be successful we must stay focused on him. When we begin to focus on problems and issues, we begin to move away from Christ. Satan wants us to focus on the economic problems, the wrong policies, and the weak, judgmental people in our lives. Jesus wants us to rise above these things and focus on the work of the kingdom. Above all, he wants us to have courage like Peter and get out of the boat. How sad will be the day when many will answer to God for their failure to accomplish something important for him. How terrible it is to hear the Savior say, “You did so little because you were too afraid to get out of the boat.”
TS Eliot said, “You must risk going too far to find out how far you can really go.” Truly great men of God who have been used mightily in his service are those who were willing to get out of the boat. If your life hasn’t turned out the way you thought it would, it’s not too late to choose another path. Abraham was seventy-five years old when God asked him to go on a journey that seemed to have no destination. At the end of this journey was the Promised Land.
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