When we were in England, one of the fascinating aspects of English life was driving. First, you drive on the wrong side of the street – or rather, you drive on the left-side lane of the street with the oncoming cars in the right-side lane. Not necessarily a problem once you get going, but trying to walk across the street can be deadly when you look to the left instead of to the right first.
Second, the traffic circles or “roundabouts”. They are in use throughout the area and enable traffic to move smoothly, as long as you know how to read them. If you don’t understand it, however, you can go in circles for a good little while until the traffic thins and you can get to the lane you need to be in to exit the circular pattern of the roundabout.
This one is fairly straight forward in directions … you are driving along and you will come to this circle to the left from which you can exit onto one of three roads, or you can go back in the other direction on the same road on which you are currently traveling.
There is one roundabout, however, that we heard of before we saw it. It is called the “Magic Roundabout”.
We came up to it at a stop light, and saw it up ahead. Here is the sign as we approached the roundabout.
Then we got closer to it and when my husband looked closely at the sign he said “Boy, is that a nightmare!”
You truly do feel like you are going in circles, and the reality is that you are going in circles, at least for a time! Going in circles does not get us very far very fast because we know that going straight is the shortest distance between two points. But in God’s perspective, going in circles may be the best route and the speediest way to do something may not be His better way.
In short, there are times in our lives when we are not to go straight. Instead, we have to negotiate the traffic circles as directed by the Holy Spirit so that we can be prepared to undertake the task that God has assigned for us. This diversion seems out of place, as if we are sidelined when we want to be in the thick of the fray. But, the circular route will teach things that we would miss if we took the direct route.
Think of Moses – he figuratively wandered in circles before he knew what God wanted him to do. He was raised in Pharaoh’s court, but he was not Egyptian. He killed an Egyptian and ran for his life to the desert in Midian. (Moses’ years 1 – 40) He took a job tending sheep for Jethro, the priest of Midian, and married Zipporah, Jethro’s daughter. (Moses’ years 41-80) Then he saw the burning bush and God told him what he was going to do for the next 40 years of his life!
Think about Joseph, one who had his circular route picked out for him, seemingly, by his brothers when they dropped him into the pit before selling him into slavery. Time in an Egyptian prison due to the fabrication of Potiphar’s wife, a fellow prisoner who forgot all about him once he was released, and lengthy time as second only to Pharaoh while he prepared the country for the famine that was going to afflict the entire region all made it seem that Joseph had morphed into the Egyptian culture pretty well.
And then it happened. The famine came and suddenly his family stood before him asking for food. Joseph then understood his circular route and saw it as though it had become straight as an arrow. In fact, he connected the dots for them when he said:
As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.
Genesis 50:20 [ESV]
I am convinced that no experience presented to us by God is a wasted experience. The route that seemed circular in retrospect was not unintended by God but was intended to teach you something that would be beneficial for your witness, if you allow it to be so.
- That college class that you have never used … just wait. It will be important at some point in your life in your ministry for your Lord.
- The illness that overtook you … you can testify to the healing that God provided in support of someone struggling with the same thing.
- That untimely death that devastated your family … can be used by God to enable you to comfort someone who is going through the same experience and as evidence that healing does come even through extreme pain.
So, while the circular route may not be fun, and it may introduce events that are outside your plans for your life, trust God. God may have a task ahead of you for which you would be ill-prepared if you had not learned the lessons taught during your circular travels.
Our God is Sovereign. His plan controls and will not be thwarted by anyone. His children are in His hands and He will guide them, even to the point of carrying His chilren home to be with Him in heaven. Trust Him – you can do so without concern because He is trustworthy, He is God, the great I AM.
Father, thank You for loving us and calling us to be your children. Thank You for having our lives in your control even when it seems that we are going in circles. Thank You for teaching us the lessons while we are in the circles that we cannot learn but for the diversion from the seemingly straight path. And, thank You for your Son whose life, death and resurrection enables us to be able to enter your presence so that we can even say Thank You!