Practice what you preach

I spoke at church on Sunday, a message which had been nudging my ribs all week, called ‘When God takes you the long way round’.

It was a whistlestop tour of the book of Exodus and the story of the Israelites’ long journey through the wilderness. I wanted to show that sometimes the things which we think will kill us, can actually make us spiritually and emotionally stronger than we ever thought possible.

In life (just as the Israelites discovered), we often face dead ends, speed bumps and other things thrown into our path which cause pain, heartache and which can trip us up.

‘Speed bumps’ in particular are those pesky problems which suddenly crop up, which look devastating at the time, but if we navigate around or over them with care (and God’s help), it’s possible to see huge and surprising victories.

At the end of my message I said, ‘I couldn’t stand here and say these things if I didn’t believe them’.

And it was true.

And it was also true that I hadn’t experienced a ‘speed bump’ in a while.

Until today, that is.

Through a whole chain of events, something difficult from the past cropped up and metaphorically slapped me in the face. I wasn’t expecting it and so I was mentally winded, wounded and if I’m honest, angry.

I thought this no longer bothered me.

But it turned out, it did and for several hours, I fretted, stroked my anger, and shared the rage with a few friends (who were suitably angry on my behalf). And then, I was reminded of my own message on Sunday.

Don’t look at the speed bumps, at the problems, instead, look up and ask God what he can do. When we take our eyes off the bump in the road and put them on Jesus, that’s when we see miracles start to happen.

That’s really what I said!

48 hours later, I was disregarding my own preach and staring resolutely at the problem instead of fixing my gaze on the problem solver.

Thankfully, God used a family member to remind me of my own words.

And as I thought it through, although this felt like an unwelcome injustice, actually, God can do something through it, if I allow him to. But first I have to start looking up, not down.

So is the problem fixed? Nope.

In fact, in human terms, it’s probably going to annoy me for a while.

But learning (again) to look up and ask God for his way forward, is infinitely better than stewing, fretting and pillow-punching.

Above all, he is a good God. Nothing can change that. Not hardships, not injustice, not speed bumps. But in order to see that, we’ve got to look up.

Or in my case, practice what I preach.