Links Daily Devotional

In the Meantime, Part 4: What Kind of Story?

“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” (John 9:3, NIV)

There’s a story I know of young man who was the baseball and basketball star in his small Georgia town in the 1960s. He earned scholarships in both sports, affording this man of very humble beginnings the opportunity to go to college. He hoped to one day make it to the major leagues, and so after his freshman year he decided to drop basketball and focus on baseball. In order to do this, he took a quarter off from school to earn some money.

The timing of this decision could not have been worse. His draft number came up. Since he was no longer a full-time student, he was required to serve as an Army infantryman and eventually found himself in the jungles and rice paddies of Vietnam, on the other side of the world from his new bride and promising future.

While in the service he befriended a strong, tough man who often talked about golf, and this young man from rural Georgia decided that if he made it out of the awful circumstances of Vietnam, he would give golf a try. Well, he did make it home and the job he returned to featured a driving range across the street! So during lunch breaks he would walk over to hit balls. To make a long story short, Larry Nelson found himself on the PGA Tour less than four years later, and it was there that he came to know Jesus Christ and eventually was able to be a part of some of the great work that the Lord was doing through the game of golf as well as direct my own life towards Jesus as his admiring son.

Many have written about and told this story with the focus on the eventual success of the Hall of Fame golf career, but I truly believe the work God was doing and orchestrating was much more about his glory and the people who would be impacted from my father’s testimony than about the trophies and paychecks he would win.

Many of us find ourselves or people we love in situations and circumstances where we can’t possibly see a positive outcome. Could it be that God is punishing us? Is he angry with me or with something I did in my past?

In John 9 the disciples were asking Jesus these very questions about a man they came upon who had been blind since birth. His disciples asked him, “Who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” In other words, who is to blame for this bad situation from which no good can possibly come?

Jesus’ response was so incredible, though we often miss it because we are focused on the wrong part of the story. He said, “This happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” The point of this well-known story does not rest in the miracle, but rather in the conversation that happened before it.

We often set our eyes on what has gone wrong and how to avoid or fix it, but God is focused on how he could display himself in this man’s life and circumstances.

Is it possible that God is in the process of doing something incredible “in the meantime” of your circumstances? While hurting, we often don’t see God’s purpose. But, as they say, “hindsight is 20/20,” and afterward we can look back and see God’s hand woven all through it. When we focus on what is wrong, we lose focus on what is right—which also means that we are missing out on seeing what God is making right in the process.

It was out on the PGA Tour that Larry Nelson met Jesus Christ, and it was through the platform of his tour career that God worked through him. But it took an “in the meantime” season of pain and inconvenience to make it happen.

How might shifting your focus from “what went wrong” to “what God is making right in the process” change your outlook in this time? Your circumstances may still be incredibly difficult, but where you put your hope and faith can change the perspective of your situation now and the way it impacts those watching. You may be given your “in the meantime” circumstances just so you may take part in making God known to somebody around you. God may right now be giving you a story to tell and an audience to tell it to.

I believe God is in the business of making beautiful out of things we call terrible.

Josh Nelson
November 25, 2014
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