The Bend In The Road

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This week I have been thinking about our Pastor who had to retire. It was not in her plans to do so, but it was medically necessary. We have just said our last goodbyes as a church and she walked out of our church doors for the last time as our Pastor. After a few days I am thinking the question, “Now what?” is on her mind.
That got my mind to thinking. We have all had those times when that question has made an appearance in our minds. When it was announced several years ago my husband’s plant was being closed we had that “now what” thought. Many of you have just taken your last child to college and you’ve come home to an empty home when the “now what” thoughts appeared in your mind. You might have been laid off from your job do to scaling back or for whatever reason and you find yourself home with no job and no income. The “now what” thought pops into your head as you get up with no job to head to. Maybe your spouse has just passed away and the funeral is over and everyone has left and you have those same thoughts…”now what”. Think back to a time when you have had that pop up. Maybe you like our Pastor is going through that now. As a congregation we go through that too. Our new Pastor’s church has been told their Pastor is moving on. I am sure “now what” had a ripple effect on their congregation.
Someone said to our Pastor it’s not the end of the story it’s just a bend in the road. When things happen we don’t plan on we have to decide on how to handle the “what now” thought. We have to decide if we are just going to stop and be an obstacle on our way to where it is we are going or if we are going to take that bend and keep moving. 
Stopping and catching our breath is not a bad thing. Being still and quiet before the Lord is always a good thing, but when we stop not wanting to take that bend in the road and see where it leads us is not always a good thing either. Often times those bends in the road gives us a new perspective, that bend can give us new scenery and that bend in the road is often a turning point in our lives. We may not always like it, but sometimes it is necessary to take that bend. 
Our lives are full of hills, and valleys, straight and narrow roads, but then come the crossroads in the road. When we come to a crossroad we often times get to choose which direction to take. That’s the time it is best to sit quietly before God and ask for His direction. 
Other times it’s not a crossroad, but a bend. We don’t get to make decisions. We don’t know what is around the bend, but God asks us to trust him and to move on boldly and with courage. That’s when we put our faith in him, pick up our feet and move forward in faith. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Prov. 3:5&6
Maybe we get excited that there is a bend in the road, but then that bend is not leading us where we want to go or where we thought God would take us. We have to remember Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” God knows where he is leading us and it’s up to us to trust his plans for our lives.
When the bend in the road is not of our choosing we can sit, pout and have a pity party. We can bring others in and have them join us in our little pity party. When we refuse to follow the bend in the road God has for us we are being obstacles on the journey he has carved out for us. The bend in the road we might not see as blessings right now, but after the bend there are times of blessings and joy that are often unimaginable. 
I think about this summer and driving through the Smokey Mountains. There were as many bends and curves in the road as there were straight paths. Sometimes I wondered what was around the bend. When we got around the bend often times it was an amazing waterfall, or lush greenery or even some deer hanging out on the side of the road. After the bend in the road we would often be astonished at what was waiting for us. If we had stopped and not made that bend, or stopped and turned around we would have missed out on what God had in store for us. 
Our journeys are full of bends, twists, turns and crossroads. It’s up to each of us to decide how we will handle those bends in the road. When the thought “what now” pops into our heads we must follow it with “I don’t know, but God does” and then proceed with trust that God knows where he is leading us. 
Winding roads and bends in the road are just one more of God’s ways to get us to the destination he has for us. We don’t know who we will meet just around the bend, or who needs us just after the bend, we don’t know what God has in store for us just around the bend, but we can trust God and know whatever it is it will be good and according to his plan. 
If you are facing a bend on your journey, don’t stop and be an obstacle. Move on with hope and trust in God knowing there will be some astonishing things ahead for you. Move on anticipating new relationships, new friendships and new opportunities God has given you. Move on in confidence in God!
The “what now” thought is just a bend in the road that will lead us to our destination…one that God has prepared for each of us. Enjoy that bend. 
Dear God: We never know when the crossroads of life are ahead of us. We can’t see the bends in our lives. We just trust you and have complete faith in you as we journey on. Let us not be obstacles on the path you have for us, but let us keep moving in the direction you have laid out before us. Let us not be stressed out about the bend, but have confidence in you and know it will be okay. Help me answer my “now what” with the answer “I don’t know, but God does”. Thank you Lord, for mapping out our journey in this life. Help me to follow your map and not my own for when I do I often lose my way. Help me to know the bend is just a prelude to something amazing you have in store for me. Amen
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