by Kaley Rhea @KaleyFaithRhea
The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” And he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him. Luke 8:38-39
Tell me if I’m the only one. But sometimes I get an idea in my head about how my day is going to go. I’m not even a to-do list kind of person or a details kind of person or an itinerary kind of person. Yet somehow I’ll have these moments when an unexpected phone call or something else unplanned throws my preconceived idea of today, of right now, off. And all my brain alarms go wild and my insides warn, “Error, error. Please return to regularly scheduled life-having.”
To be clear, this is a ridiculous phenomenon I’m talking about.
“I didn’t realize the trashcan was full, and now I have to take the trash out, and I wasn’t planning on taking the trash out right now. Ugh, worst.”
And “Oh, my friend is calling, and I love talking to her, but wait, we didn’t plan on talking right now; what is she thinking?”
And “Child, why have you vomited on the carpet? We are on our way out the door; I don’t have time for this!”
That moment of internal, irrational push-back I feel when something has intruded into my schedule, into my plans, and worse: requires something of me.
I’m confessing here. Sometimes I live my life with a perspective set about two inches from the end of my nose. I guard my time, my words, my efforts with a sharp eye, unknowingly fixed on only spending them where I see fit. (And I’ve met me. So believe me, I know exactly how hilarious that is.)
Of course, while ruminating on these things, I thought of Jeremiah 29:11. “‘I know the plans I have for you,’ says the LORD. ‘Plans for welfare and not for evil. To give you a future and a hope.’” I feel like we pass this verse out like candy, and I’m glad we do because these words are sweet and so important. Any moment spent remembering that my God knows infinitely more than I do and has made infinitely better plans is a good and essential moment.
But I also couldn’t get the Gerasene demoniac out of my mind. Of all the people in the Bible, he’s where I landed. He had previously been possessed by an entire legion of demons and was living a horrendous, wrecked life. Jesus cast them out of him. Healed him. It was a life-changing miracle.
So the man made this plan to go with Jesus. It seems like a perfectly legitimate reaction to what had happened. A good, appropriate response. So he asked, but Jesus told him to stay. To proclaim the name of Jesus where he was. And the man…did.
It’s a convicting thought for me. Jesus has done a miracle in my life, too: rescued me from my sin. And I think sometimes I have this attitude like, “No, no, Jesus, I’m going to serve you this way and in this place and on this timetable or on this grand scale.” And I miss out on the opportunity that He is laying right in front of me to serve Him and glorify His name. In ways that are simple. In ways that walk right up to me.
But instead of thanking Him for these opportunities, in my heart I’m thinking, “Could you please step aside, opportunity? I’m already on my way to my scheduled God-glorifying, and you are a bit off my route.”
Lord Jesus, snap Your fingers in front of my heart, get it to pay attention. Help me see the things I miss when I focus on my own plans and my own understanding. Holy Spirit, give me kindness. Help me see people the way You see them. Defeat the selfishness inside of me and replace it with Your love. Help me hold my plans loosely and always ask You to shape them into whatever You will. I trust You with my time and my desires; so help me to hear Your voice over the screeching of my internal tires every time You call me to an unscheduled turn or stop. Let the love I have for You overflow into trust, then into obedience, and finally joy. Amen.
About the author: Kaley Rhea is the St. Louis-area co-author of Christian romantic comedy Turtles in the Road (along with mom, bud, and writing partner Rhonda Rhea) and this year’s non-fiction release Messy to Meaningful: Lessons From the Junk Drawer (co-written with Rhonda Rhea and Monica Schmelter).
Join the conversation: What has God put in your path that felt more like an interruption than an opportunity?