In This Issue...
- A Theology of Humor by Cheryl Taylor
- Ministering With Humor by Stephanie Nance
- Christian Leaders Having Fun? by Pam Morton with Kathy Jingling
- The Health Benefits of Humor and Laughter by Dwenda Gjerdingen, MD, MS
Are We There Yet?
By Vicki Judd
Anyone who has ever traveled in a car with children a distance requiring more than 15 minutes of driving time has heard some version of the classic, kid question, "Are we there yet?" Parents everywhere are thankful for the invention of the tablet, portable DVD player, and the iPhone, which have at least diminished boredom and minimized the number of times the question is asked, yet still it persists. When our kids were young, we devised a system using the rearview mirror as a travel gage. The far left side was home, the far right side was our destination. They still asked the question, but the mirror gave them a point of reference — a sense of security.
When it comes to our journey with Christ through life and ministry, most of us would love a way of measuring how far we have to go to get to God's purpose and plan for our lives. Wouldn't that be great? Unfortunately, we often feel more like the kids in the back seat wondering where we are and when we will arrive — especially when the trip seems to be taking much longer than we expected due to the inevitable detours along the way. So let's talk about those detours.
Detours in ministry come in lots of different forms — betrayal, sickness, layoffs, firings, a spouse's job change that necessitates a relocation — to name a few.
Detours in ministry come in lots of different forms — betrayal, sickness, layoffs, firings, a spouse's job change that necessitates a relocation — to name a few. We can be buzzing down the highway of ministry when suddenly we are forced onto a backcountry road where our speed is reduced to a crawl and we feel certain that we are lost or stopped entirely. I believe God has a plan, even in — maybe especially in — the detours. Here are two things to remember about ministry detours.
A Detour is Not the Same As Being Lost
A detour is not the same as being lost — although it can feel like it. Trust me, I know all about getting lost. My friend Jodi and I are famous for adventures in lostness. Almost every time we go somewhere together — no matter who is driving — we get lost. (These days we're never really lost, but we have nearly caused our GPS system to short circuit.)
Sometimes a detour can make you feel fearful, panic-stricken, hopeless, and depressed. You're off map. You keep moving, but you're not sure you are headed the right way. You feel lost.
I'm sure that David felt lost when he was forced to relinquish his kingdom to his rebellious son Absalom (2 Samuel 15-18). This sudden turn of events was not in David's life plan. It was painful and confusing. Fortunately, David had some loyal friends who took the detour with him.
In his sorrow and despair, David encouraged his friends to go back to Jerusalem. "Ittai replied to the king, 'As surely as the Lord lives, and as my lord the king lives, wherever my lord the king may be, whether it means life or death, there will your servant be' " (2 Samuel 15:21, NIV).
It helps to have friends on the journey. David's friends stuck with him in the hard times. Though I'm sure it was difficult for David to see at the time, God was with him, too. And, the end of the story is that God restored David's kingdom.
When Jodi and I go on one of our "detours," it doesn't feel so scary or upsetting when we're together. When you are on a ministry detour, make sure you have a few loyal friends who will make the journey with you. And remember — God has promised (several times in fact) that He will never leave or forsake you. Hold on to that promise and before you know it, you'll be back on map and on plan again.
A Detour is Not Your Destination
Several years ago, I was leading a youth choir on tour to a remote part of Eastern Washington. It was a long travel day and we had gotten a late start due to some lost keys for our equipment van. I was nervous that we might not have time to set up and rehearse before the service began.
Unbeknownst to us, there was major road construction and a significant detour on our route. At one point we came to a complete stop that lasted more than an hour in over 90 degree heat. We had no control over the detour or how long this unplanned stop would last. The minutes ticked by, and it seemed we would not only be late for our preservice check in, but we might not make the service at all. It appeared that God was saying, "This is as far as you are going today." Sometimes a detour can feel like the end. (We did make it to our service that night — very late, but we made it.)
Detours mark us as well. They remind us that we cannot plan and control every part of our lives.
When David was camped at the Jordan River, waiting for word from his friends, I'm sure it seemed like the end. He had no choice but to wait and see how things turned out. God was at work and protecting David; his life was spared and his kingdom restored, but not without pain. He lost his beloved son in the process, and he bore the scars of that loss.
Detours mark us as well. They remind us that we cannot plan and control every part of our lives. Sometimes detours lead us to unexpectedly pleasant places, but more often, they leave us wondering what in the world just happened. We don't usually see how everything worked out until we do finally reach our destination. In the case of our life and ministry—that, too, is out of our control.
Are you on a ministry detour? Who are the loyal friends that you can count on to stick with you and encourage you along the way? How has a detour marked your life in the past? Stop right now and thank God for His protection and provision.
The next time you see a detour sign, take a deep breath and remember, you're not lost and you're not at the end.
Remember: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take" (Proverbs 3:5,6, NLT).