Does God really care when we take detours from the path He has set for us?
Many might argue with me on this point, but I’m convinced that God has a specific role set aside for each of us. He has given us unique gifts and talents and desires, and He has created an individual covenant for us that fits those gifts. “For I know the plans I have for you,” God told us through His prophet Jeremiah (see Jeremiah 29:11). Nothing is left to chance when it comes to God. Long before He created us He knew what He wanted us to accomplish. He knew the people that He wanted us to touch and that He wanted to put into our lives to touch us. You and I were created for a purpose, and God’s perfect plan is for us to embrace that purpose.
We all take detours from God’s plan, and we will do so until the day we die. God is patient and faithful just the same. But how much better would our lives be if we strove every day to stay the course that God set before us? How many people could we bless if we allowed God to work through us each day? How much more effective would we be in life and ministry if we only learned to let God set our agenda?
I’m still not sure why God chose to take me as a young Christian and mold me into an evangelist. But this is the plan that He made for me and so I carry it out the best I can.
And what about you? Have you embraced the plan that God has prepared for you? Have you sought out His purpose for your life and then set yourself toward fulfilling it? Or are you living your life by taking one detour after another?
It’s a question that each one of us needs to ask—and one that God is waiting to answer.
Nicky Cruz, internationally known evangelist and prolific author, turned to Jesus Christ from a life of violence and crime after meeting David Wilkerson in New York City in 1958. The story of his dramatic conversion was told first in The Cross and the Switchblade by David Wilkerson and then later in his own best-selling book Run, Baby, Run.
“He [Jesus] rebuked the foul spirit, saying unto him, Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee, come out of him, and enter no more into him” (Mark 9:25). After Jesus prayed, the boy fell to the ground as if dead. But, Scripture says, “Jesus took him by the hand, and lifted him up; and he arose” (verse 27).
Can you imagine the joy in this scene? That clean, freed boy must have run to his father and embraced him. And the father’s heart leapt with joy. God had fixed it all.
So, why did the Holy Spirit move Mark to include this story in his gospel? I believe it was so every parent from that moment forward would know God can be trusted to do the impossible with their children. The Lord was saying, “I can restore anything and anyone. If you’ll just believe, all things will be possible to you through Me.”
All over the world today, multitudes of Christian parents agonize because their children are under the devil’s power. In our own congregation, I see the pain of mothers who ride buses upstate to visit their sons in prison. They know the pain of sitting on one side of the thick, glass window, gazing at a boy who once was tender in spirit. Somehow he got hooked on drugs and then attempted a robbery to support his habit. And now he’s in prison, becoming even more hardened. She has prayed for him for years, but now she’s losing hope. She doesn’t think she’ll ever see him change.
Maybe you think your unsaved husband is hopeless, that he’ll never come to Jesus. Or, perhaps you’ve given up hope for your wife, who leaves you at night to go out partying. But no person is ever too far gone for God to fix. I know many Christian spouses who testify today, “I prayed for my spouse for years. Then one day, after I had given up hope, God broke through. He saved and delivered my loved one!”
We must never give up on anyone—because our God can do anything.
In Mark 9, a distraught father brought his demon-possessed son to Jesus’ disciples seeking deliverance. This boy wasn’t simply troubled or rebellious. He was full of evil spirits, and they controlled his every action. His situation was well known all over the region, and when parents saw him approaching, they probably rushed their children indoors.
This poor boy was considered absolutely hopeless. He was both deaf and speechless, so he spewed out only guttural sounds. He foamed at the mouth like a mad dog, and physically he was skin and bones, emaciated by his awful struggle. His father had to hold on to him continually, because the demons tried to cast him into the nearest river, lake or open fire, wanting to kill him.
I wonder how many times this father had to leap into a pond and drag his son out to resuscitate him. It had to be a full-time job just keeping his child from killing himself. Imagine the number of scars and burn marks on that boy’s torn body. I am sure the father’s heart was broken daily to see his son in that condition, with no one able to help.
Now, as the father stood before the disciples, Satan began manifesting in the boy. He started foaming at the mouth and rolling on the ground, contorting and gyrating wildly. Scripture tells us the disciples prayed over him—perhaps for a long time—but nothing happened.
It must have seemed like an impossible situation. Soon the doubting scribes crowded around, asking, “Why is the boy not healed? Is this case too hard for your Lord? Is the devil more powerful in this kind of situation?”
But then Jesus came on the scene! When He asked what was going on, the boy’s father answered, “I brought my son to Your disciples, but they couldn’t heal him. He’s a hopeless case.” Jesus responded simply, “If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth” (Mark 9:23). Christ was telling everyone present, “Do you believe I can handle all situations except those under the devil’s control? I tell you, there is no problem, no impossible circumstance, I cannot fix.”
It is not enough for us simply to believe in God as creator, the maker of all things. We also have to believe that He’s a God who yearns to do the impossible in our lives. The Bible makes it very clear: If we don’t believe this about Him, we don’t trust Him at all.
In my opinion, no amount of counseling will do a person any good if he doubts God for a miracle. Don’t misunderstand—I am not against Christian counseling. But it is useless to counsel someone who is not fully convinced God can fix his problem, no matter what the problem may be.
Couples must believe that God can save their relationship; otherwise, my counsel is in vain. Things may appear absolutely hopeless to them; they may have built up years of resentment and bitterness. But they have to be convinced God can do the impossible.
I tell such couples right away, “Yes, I’ll counsel you. But first I have to ask: Do you truly believe God can fix your marriage? Do you have faith that no matter how impossible things look to you, He has the power to restore your relationship?”
Some answer, “But you don't know what I’ve been through with my spouse. I’ve been wounded deeply. My hurt is beyond what you could ever imagine.” This kind of response tells me they have bought the devil’s lie. He has convinced them that their situation is hopeless. Yet Jesus has spoken clearly to every one of His children: “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God” (Luke 18:27).
All over this nation, Christians are giving up on their marriages. Even some of my minister friends are divorcing. When I talk with them about their situation, I realize they don’t think their marriage can be healed. They simply don’t trust God to do the impossible for them.
We do not really believe in God unless we believe He is the God of the impossible!
You probably remember the story from Genesis in which God appeared to Abraham. The patriarch was sitting at the door of his tent during the heat of the day when suddenly three men appeared before him, standing under a tree. Abraham went out to meet the men, had a meal prepared, and visited with them.
During their conversation, the Lord asked Abraham where his wife, Sarah, was. Then God said something incredible: “Lo, Sarah thy wife shall have a son” (Genesis 18:10).
At the time, Sarah was inside the tent listening to their conversation. And when she heard this, she laughed at the idea. “Impossible,” she thought. She was way beyond the age of childbearing, and Abraham was too old to sire a child.
Yet when God heard Sarah’s laughter, He said, “Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old? Is anything too hard for the Lord?” (verses 13-14).
I am writing this message today because God asks the same question of His children in these present times: Is anything too hard for the Lord? We all must face our own difficult situations in life. And in the midst of them God asks, “Do you think your problem is too hard for Me to fix? Or do you believe I can work it out for you, even though you think it’s impossible?”
Jesus tells us, “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God” (Luke 18:27). Do you believe this word from the Lord? Do you accept that He can perform the impossible in your marriage, in your family, on your job, for your future?
We are quick to counsel others that He can do the impossible. When we see our loved ones enduring difficult times, we tell them, "Hold on and look up! The Lord is able—don’t stop trusting Him. He’s the God of the impossible.”
Yet, do we believe these truths for ourselves? I wonder.