During my service as a pastor, I did a considerable amount of traveling to meetings and other events. One thing I discovered was that in my state, New Jersey, directions on roadside signs were often confusing or misleading. For example, I frequently traveled north on Interstate Route 295. Just after the exit for Route 1, there was a sign saying “Route 295 North Ends, Begin Route 95 South”. Just like that, at a point selected for what seemed to be no apparent reason, there was an official sign telling me that even though I had not turned around, but was continuing straight ahead on the same road, I was now traveling south instead of north, on a different highway. One day somebody explained to me there was a logical explanation for this. But still, for one who comes upon this sign for the first time, it was confusing.
Another time I was traveling to a town in southern New Jersey (the part which my wife Joan calls Never Never Land). My map showed that it should be an easy trip, with no confusion. As I traveled it looked to me like that was the case. No confusing road signs. Until I came to a point where the roadside sign disagreed with my map. I decided that the roadside sign was more likely to be correct, so I went where it told me to go. However after another few miles I came to a T intersection, and there was no roadside sign telling me which way to go for the town I was looking for, and no hint of a street name or highway number. At this point I was lost. Let me explain that if I find myself in the wrong place while driving, that does not mean I’m lost. It just means I know where I am, but that’s not where I want to be. Lost is when I don’t know where I am. Which was the situation at that intersection. However, using the sun to help get my bearings, I turned in the right direction and soon found the place I wanted to be.
Now this was years before GPS units were available. Once I did get a GPS unit, I felt at ease when driving to places new to me. I had faith in my GPS unit,and my faith seemed to be justified. That is, until I was on a long distance trip, and pulled into a mall parking lot. I took care of whatever it was I stopped for at the mall. Turned on my GPS unit, expecting that it would direct me to the exit I had to use to continue my trip. This was a really big parking lot. So I wasn’t surprised that I had to make a few turns in order to get to the correct exit. However, I soon realized that the GPS unit was taking me on a full scale tour of the parking lot. So I ignored it and relied on my intuition to found my way out of the parking lot.
I could go on and on about missing and faulty directions, but you get the idea. No doubt you’ve been there too. And there will always be roadside and other signs which are confusing and/or misleading. So we just have to learn to live with that. In fact, there are other aspects of life in which it is not clear as to what to do. However, I have found also that as the years have gone by, the one sure thing is the directions I receive from God as to how I am to live my life.
I admit that all too often I have tried to do some really good things with my life, but failed to first seek or accept God’s directions as to how to proceed. The worst time of my life was when I was unemployed (For the full details I invite you to read my free e-book (see details below). For a number of years I clearly heard God telling me that it was time for me to move on from my work with a Christian non-profit organization, and begin the process of becoming a pastor in the United Methodist Church. I could not honestly say I didn’t know what God wanted to do with me (what God wanted me to do). I just ignored God, saying that I could never become a pastor.I had three reasons for saying this. I didn’t have time to go to seminary, because I needed to work full time at my current job. If I gave up my job I wouldn’t have the money to pay for seminary. I didn’t have the mental capacity to go through seminary.
After a few years of saying no to God, I found myself unemployed. Eventually I came to realize that my unemployment was God’s way of telling me that those excuses no longer applied. So after trying to find all kinds of secular employment unsuccessfully, I said yes to God and applied and was accepted in seminary and began serving as a part time student local pastor, hoping that I would succeed. I found that I had all the time and money I needed, and no problem with my intellectual capacity. I don’t mean to brag, but I graduated four years later at the top of my class. That’s what happened when I finally sought, heard, and accepted God’s will. God provided everything that was needed. What God did with and for me, God will do for anyone and everyone who discerns and accepts God’s will for them. I can tell you from experience, there’s nothing confusing or misleading about that. Because there’s nothing confusing or misleading about God’s directions. When one’s hopes are in accordance with God’s will, God will fulfill those hopes.
Grace and peace, Ray
Thanks for your attention. We look forward to hearing your comments about our web-site. We also invite you to send us stories of your experiences and observations of present hopes and hope fulfilled, so we can spread them around the world via this web-site. This is one way we can all join together to help keep hope alive.
Patty Perez and Ray Gough
We also invite you to view our other web-site Ray of Hope Ministries On-Line Bible Study www.rohmbible.wordpress.com
We have also published the book shown below in the form of an e–book. We invite you to read, copy, or down-load it free at this web-site:
A Spiritual Autobiography
How God fulfilled the faith-based hopes
of an ordinary guy from Jersey City