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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 comes to a tragic end when he is shot by a deranged woman. Hobb’s dream of becoming a successful baseball player is revived and he attempts a late-life comeback. His statement to his wife sums up his feelings: “My life has not turned out the way I expected.”
This quote resonates with almost anyone who has lived enough of life to experience the disappointments that are inevitable. The 45-year-old made contact with a former high school classmate, a girl he once dated and even discussed marriage with. It was fun and interesting to catch up after several decades of no communication. But her revelation did not bring him any satisfaction, instead he felt depressed. She finally got 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 traveled abroad, in fact she and her husband owned holiday homes in Ireland and Italy. In contrast, her former beau was a simple man who lived a simple life. He drove an old truck. He never married and had no children. The conversation caused him to say, “My life hasn’t turned out the way I expected.”
Maybe you said it too. Has your life taken an unexpected detour? Did you think you would always be beautiful and athletic? Have you dreamed of one day being financially independent? Did you fail to get married or did your marriage fail? Did you think your drug addict child would become a doctor or a lawyer? Have you lost a parent or child to an unexpected death? Do you now have health problems that have taken away the enjoyment of life that you feel you deserve?
It’s hard to accept that we bring a lot of pain on ourselves. We often end up where we are because we decided back at the crossroads. The scriptures often remind us of this: “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. He who sows to please his sinful nature will reap destruction from that nature; he who sows to please the Spirit, from The spirit will reap eternal life.” (Gal. 6:7-8) “I have noticed 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 of our past choices, the best thing we can do is repent and seek God’s forgiveness. When our lives are all messed up because we trusted our own plans, it’s time to trust the Master Architect to reveal a better plan that will bring us satisfaction and contentment.
One thing we should all have learned from Harold Camping’s recent false prophecy: “You can’t put God in a box.” When God shows us a new direction, we are tempted to limit 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 who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13) If you hear God whisper something incredible, something that seems impossible, you know that others have heard him whisper in the past. “Noah, build the ark in the desert. Say what!?! “Moses, bring 2 million slaves out of Egypt.” We tend to offer excuses because we approach God’s request in our own humanity and imagine that we will try to fulfill his command in our own strength. He wants us to trust Him because He miraculously turns our weakness into His strength.
If we can muster up the courage to say, “Here I am, Lord, send me,” when we hear his whisper, Satan will immediately try to overpower us. It was during the fourth watch of the night that Jesus approached the boat with a group of frightened disciples. He comforted them by saying, “Take courage! It is I. Do not 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 did a miraculous thing. He walked on water.
But then things started to go wrong. Peter tore his eyes from Jesus and began to look at the rolling waves and began to feel the whipping of the wind. As he went down, he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out for him to offer him salvation.
God will ask us to do some great things, but to be successful we must focus on Him. When we begin to focus on difficulties and problems, we begin to fall away from Christ. Satan wants us to focus our lives on money problems, wrong politics, and weak-minded, judgmental people. Jesus wants us to rise above these things and focus on the work of the kingdom. Above all, he wants us to have the courage like Peter and get out of the boat. How sad will be the day when many will answer to God for their failures when they have done something significant for Him. How awful to hear the Savior say, “You have done 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.” The truly great men of God who have been used mightily in his service are those who have been willing to get out of the boat. If your life hasn’t turned out the way you envisioned, it’s not too late to choose a different 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 lay the promised land.
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