Detours

My March Book Recommendation is Detours: The Unpredictable Path to Your Destiny by Tony Evans.

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I was introduced to this book through the Proverbs 31 Ministries devotionals; Tony was a guest writer in January and the devotional really resonated with me so I purchased his book. I am so glad that I did because it was phenomenal!   Here is the quote in the devotional that stood out to me, “Detours are unanticipated routes that take us another way to our destiny. Detours are designed for our own good, regardless how we view or feel about them.   They are good things that often feel bad. This is because it’s in our detours that we’re developed for our destiny.” I love this!! Our character is developed in the detours! Even though they feel frustrating or negative at the time, God is developing our character in the middle of them. We are learning patience, gratitude, compassion for others, and how to live fully dependent of God. Tony says, “God is not going to bring your destiny to fruition until He knows that you are able to handle it spiritually, emotionally, and physically. If you cannot handle it, you will lose it rather than use it for His glory. That is why He focuses so intently on our development as He takes us to our destiny.” Now can you see what I loved this book- such great truth and perspective to have when life takes a detour.

Tony takes us through the life of Joseph in this book. If ever there was someone who went through many detours in life, it was Joseph. He went from the pit to prison to the palace. Along the way, God grew Joseph and developed his character. Honestly, I have thoroughly enjoyed learning about Joseph in this book; he started out as a prideful young man bragging to his brothers about his coat of many colors. The brothers in an act of jealousy threw Joseph into a pit and then sold him as a slave. Then through a series of detours in Joseph’s life, God began to chisel away and refine him, growing him through the hard time times he experienced. After 22 years, Joseph came face to face with his brothers again, this time though he was a complete different man. He was humble, patient, compassionate and forgiving- all character traits he learned through his detours. Joseph was able to look into the eyes of those same brothers and say, “You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.” (Gen 50:20) Wow- so amazing!

The book has so many great truths in it and I honestly loved each chapter. I cannot share it all with you so I want to end with one of my favorite stories from the book!   There was a man who was ready to give up on God; he had been in a detour too long and lost all hope. Listen to this powerful story:

The man who told God he quit decided to go to the woods to have one last conversation with the Lord. “God, You disappointed me,” this man said. “You’ve got me stuck out here and I don’t know why. I don’t know how long I’m going to have to stay here in this situation before my change is coming. I’m ready to give up-unless you do something or say something right now.”

Just at that very moment, the heaven opened, and a voice spoke to the man. It said, “Look around and tell Me what you see.”

The man looked around and told the voice from heave that he saw ferns growing in a pot and also some bamboo. The voice from heaven replied, “Exactly. Now let me tell you about the ferns and the bamboo.” The man perked up his ears to listen intently.

“When the fern seed was planted, the ferns grew up very quickly, and they became lush and green and beautiful. But when the bamboo seeds were planted, nothing grew at all during its first year. Same thing with the second year. And the third. And the fourth. It wasn’t until the fifth year that the very first small shoot of bamboo came up.”

Then the voice from heaven paused, allowing that reality to sink in. Then continued with a question, “How tall is the bamboo you are looking at?”

The man answered, “At least a hundred feet tall.”

“You are right,” the voice from heave said. “And the reason bamboo is a hundred feet tall is because during the five years when you saw nothing, it was growing deep on the inside. It was growing strong, deep roots down beneath the surface where you cannot see. The reason why it was going deeper first is because I knew I had planned for it to eventually be over a hundred feet tall. It knew how high I planned to take it, and in order for it to sustain that height, it would have to grow deeper inside where no one could see anything at all.”

WOW- I love this story! God is trying to grow us deeper because He has big plans for us! Tony says this, “Friend, if God is taking a long time with you on your detour, it is because He is trying to take you deeper on the inside first. He is trying to develop and strengthen you to sustain the destiny in store. His plan for you is high. His calling for you is tall. His purpose for you will one day soar. But just as you can’t build a skyscraper on a chicken-coop foundation, you can’t place a divine destiny on a shallow soul. The higher your mountains, the deeper your valleys will seem. And difficult roads often lead to the most magnificent destinations.”

I don’t know about you but this gives me amazing hope! All the hard times and detours and struggles and pain are deepening our faith. They are growing strong deep roots in us so that God can take us higher than we ever imagined. He wants us to soar! He wants us all to get to this magnificent destination He has planned for us!   Ladies, do not give up hope along the way when the detour is long and you feel discouraged. Keep focused on the fact that God is developing your character! He loves you so much!

Dear God, When life takes us on a detour, please help us have this bigger perspective. Please remind us of the 100 foot tall bamboo and that you are working on the inside of us, giving us depth! God, sometimes though, detours are hard and can feel hopeless. I pray for my friends who are in the middle of one and need encouragement. I pray they feel your comfort, your love, and your peace. God, thank you that you are always with us! Thank you for continuing to develop our character and guide us to our destiny. In Jesus name, Amen.

 

 

 

How’s Your Soul?

My February Book Recommendation is “How’s Your Soul? by Judah Smith. The Tagline on the book says, “Why Everything That Matters Starts With The Inside You”.

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I really enjoyed reading this book. The author, Judah Smith, has a way of writing that will make you crack up laughing and also at the same time, he gives you great insight and truth to ponder.   I think you will really enjoy his stories as well as the depth that he brings from them.

The books starts by asking, “Have you ever had someone look deep into your soul and ask, “Are you okay?”   Judah says in the book, “we tend to use outward indicators of success to prove how “okay” we are. But none of these things- not wealth, not fame, not family, not goals reached- mean we are healthy and happy on the inside.” He says, “This is a book about being okay on the inside. It’s a book about being satisfied, stable and healthy on a soul level.”

In his book, he defines your soul, “as the inside you- it’s your heart, your inner being, your mind, your will and emotions.” He shares so much great truth in this book, but one thing really stood out to me that I want to share. He says, “if you are like me, your soul has a tendency to drift like a boat on a sea. The purpose of an anchor is to keep you from drifting. It keeps you from being carried by every wake and current that swirls past. Ultimately, it keeps you from capsizing. An anchor is an agent of stability, security and steadiness.”     Quick side note- love the anchor analogy! Then he continues on and asks, “what is your anchor? Where do you turn to when your soul is overwhelmed? When you feel like you are drowning inside and need an escape?”

Again, I love how he asks lots of questions and gets you to really think and ponder where your stability and security is. He says he has heard answers like when I’m debt free or my house is paid off. Many people turn to their jobs, their education, their money, or their home for their anchor. I love what he says next- listen to this truth: “The bottom line is that things that do not have a soul cannot aid people who do have souls. “ Wow- such truth! He says, “ your car will not help you when you are discouraged. Your house does not have a soul and your job doesn’t have a soul. By definition and by nature, these things do not have the stability within themselves to aid you in your mind, your will or your emotions.”

So he continues and says that some people answer that their stability is their husband or wife, their family, their kids, their parents or their friends. He says, “yes, people have souls so this is answer is definitely a step up. But because that person you are counting on has a soul that is just as fragile and fragmented as yours and mine, he or she will be there for you sometimes but not all the time.” We have all experienced this before when someone has let us down.   Just a quick side note- Judah is not saying that relationships are not important; in fact, he says they are very important in the book. He is just saying that we can’t anchor to them for our stability and security.

Then Judah says this, “We need somebody with a soul. It needs to be a soul similar to ours, a soul that knows plight and condition. But at the same time, it needs to be a soul that is profoundly different, a soul that is flawless and perfect and whole. That is the only soul that can fix us, because it doesn’t have to fix itself.” Judah then says, “Jesus is the anchor our soul longs for.”   When we are going through circumstances that are tough, storms in our life, Jesus wants to be our strength and stability in the storm. He wants to be your anchor.   Now you might be thinking that it is hard to trust in Jesus because you cannot see him.   I love what Judah says, “An anchor does it best work where it is never seen. An anchor plunges through the depths of the sea until it settles and wedges itself into the ocean floor. Meanwhile, back on the surface, in the boat that is your soul, you continue to be buffeted by the elements of life. All you can see in the moment are the wind and waves. But under the surface, you have an anchor.” The question is will you have faith and trust that anchor? Judah says, “It’s easy to have faith when we are safely in the boat- when the wind is gone and the stars are out. But can we trust Jesus in the midst of the storm? Because that is when we need him the most.”   I truly hope and pray that we can trust Jesus as our anchor.   Judah ends the chapter with this, “I can’t promise you that the wind will instantly cease or the waves will immediately calm. But I can promise you that he will keep you safe in the midst of the storm. He is everything you need. And when you get through the storm, you will find yourself in a place of stability, faith and fruitfulness that come only from him.” I love this!

Dear God, I want to pray for all my friends who are in the middle of a storm right now. I know that it can feel lonely and hopeless. God, I pray that they trust you through this difficult time. I love that Jesus is the perfect anchor for all our souls. I love that He is with us during the storm and He keeps us stable!   I pray that we will not try to find our stability in things that do not have a soul like our homes or jobs or our money. I pray that we will not try to find our stability in people that can let us down and leave us even more discouraged.   God, I pray we seek Jesus for our stability and our security!   Thank you for being there for us during the storms in our lives. In Jesus’ name, Amen.