Painful Redirections

February 13, 2024

Painful Redirections


“When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not let them to” (Acts 16:7, NIV).


He asked me to be his long-distance mentor, a young doctor beginning his career, still many bridges to cross. We discussed issues of personal faith, relationships, time management, finances and professional development. His deepest concern was the specialty training for which he hoped and was denied. He had since spent two years in primary care, recovering from that disappointment. He concluded our time with, “It has been terribly difficult, but God has recently given me peace. He has done a lot of good things during this time of disappointment. He has shown me that I should remain where I am and serve Him well. My marriage has been strengthened. I am much more dedicated to my church. My wife and I have begun having other young couples over who need mentoring in Christ. I can see that God has had a hand in all that has happened.”


Robert Schuller famously quoted, “God’s delays are not God’s denials.” But sometimes they are.


There are times we want things badly: good things, even Godly things, that God has not chosen for us. The tearing away of those dreams is painful but not evil if we leave God in charge.


As Christ followers, I believe we should vigorously pursue our passions when they are Godly, but always with the conviction: “Thy will be done.”


Oswald Chambers was a talented artist and wished badly to make his career in art. When he entered that profession, door after door closed on his dream, just as God began to whisper, “I want you in my ministry.” Chambers wrote this in a letter to family as he watched his dream disappear, as David McCasland recorded in Oswald Chambers: Abandoned to God: “The inward conviction, the decided thwarting all along the art line; nay, the repeated shutting of the doors that seemed just opening, as well as the confident opinion of friends—all leads me to consider most earnestly before God what is His will.”


God’s plan led Oswald Chambers away from his personal passion to a career as Bible college principal, later to die young from complications of an appendectomy, ministering as chaplain to soldiers in Egypt during World War I. After his death, to support herself and daughter, his wife Biddy published his writings in a devotional book, My Utmost for His Highest, a book that has inspired countless thousands to pour their lives out for Christ, including me.


God’s delays and God’s denials always move us toward a better plan, sometimes for us, and always for His kingdom. The young doctor I mentor is beginning to understand.


Dear God,

When my dreams are delayed or denied, let me say with the Christ of Gethsemane, “Yet not what I will, but what you will.”



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