Years ago, when I was first asked to write a periodic article for the Destin Log, I thought long and hard before deciding to call my series “Waypoints.”
It is the term given to unique latitude and longitude intersections that are stored in a mariner’s GPS. One can navigate to a final destination by stringing together a number of these “waypoints” to form a route. At each of these intersections, there is an option to press on to the next waypoint or tarry awhile (in my case, to try and catch fish!).
The idea of thinking about faith through the lens of waypoints still makes sense to me.
We Christians believe Jesus when he declared, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me”. (John 14:6) Yet our experience teaches us that there are many “waypoints” in every believer’s journey, and that they vary widely from person to person.
Life’s circumstances and our own decisions take us in all sorts of directions, sometimes choosing to linger and sometimes being forced to stop at various waypoints. Some of these intersections bless us and some hurt us badly.
So how is it that more than 3,000 years ago the Israelite king David wrote these words of confident faith?
“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made ... Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” (Psalm 139:13,14,16)
David was rejoicing that God has a plan for our lives from before we are ever born. If we were to translate that into our “waypoints” terminology, it means that God has already planned the waypoints of our lives before we were even conceived. Well, that explains all those turning points in our lives where we are blessed, but what about those that hurt us or the ones we love? How shall we reconcile that with a God who supposedly loves us?
First, let’s admit that this is a fallen world filled with fallen people. Sin being what it is, it is impossible for our Lord to give us sinners freedom to make choices and simultaneously guarantee everyone a pain-free journey. Then, let’s go back to the text and we will see David rejoicing that God had an initial plan for his life which was filled with blessings.
But even a cursory look at the king’s life shows David making some bad decisions at various waypoints in his life. Do we really think his adulterous affair with Bathsheba was part of God’s original plan for him? No. Clearly David decided to make his own waypoint and start in a new direction away from God’s initial plan for his life.
Yet the Lord did not abandon him. Instead, God figuratively ran out in front of him and planned a new series of waypoints designed to intersect with his and bring him back to the right path. This is what we might term God’s circumstantial will. But in the end, the Lord’s ultimate will for David was that he would become more and more a man with God’s own heart — and God’s will was not thwarted.
The way the Lord dealt with David is the same way he deals with every one who makes a commitment to follow Jesus as Lord and Savior. The initial route the Lord has planned for us is a plan for good to give us a future and a hope. It’s just that over the course of our journey through this world we invariably find ourselves off course for one reason or another.
The glorious promise of Jesus, risen from the dead, is that he will never leave us or forsake us — and no matter how far from God’s perfect plan for our lives we find ourselves, Jesus will search for us until he finds us. Then he will lead us by a new route through both good waypoints and difficult ones, accompanying us every step of the way, until ultimately he carries us right into the Father’s arms.
The Rev. Mike Hesse, former senior pastor of Immanuel Anglican Church, is now retired and living in Destin.