I was thinking the other day about the car accident I was in a couple of years ago. The collision, and subsequent concussion, came at a time in my life when I felt poised to do great things. My career was going well, I had 3 healthy kids, I was establishing a women’s ministry through hospitality, doing some writing, etc. Things were good!
The morning that I was rear-ended I woke up super early and couldn’t go back to sleep. I felt led to read a certain devotion and I felt such peace about the future. The devotion was about vision and I had a vision for the future! It really seemed like God was about to crank things up and fulfill the dreams and passions He’d given me so long ago. I wrote about the accident and whatnot here and here.
On what I thought was the verge of doing great things for God, the accident felt like such a setback. In the following months of brain fog, and then the unexpected pregnancy, I felt further and further away from the vision He had given me. But as time continued, I realized the chain reaction from all these setbacks taking me away from my goal eventually propelled me forward at a faster speed than I even imagined before the accident. I have now realized that what felt like a major setback was actually a drawback.
In the hands of an archer getting ready to fire at the target, I was the arrow being drawn back. The vision for my future got smaller the further back I was pulled, but then when the Archer was ready, I sped ahead and quickly passed my starting point. I have been flying towards the target ever since.
It’s so easy to get discouraged and disappointed when we face a setback in our lives. We think we should be moving forward, or at least not backwards! But whether the Lord ordained the accident or just allowed it He used it for my good. Even when our setbacks are caused by our own foolishness or ignorance, they never catch God by surprise. He accounts for, and redeems, all of these circumstances in His plan for our lives.
My drawback served to cut some things out of my life and helped me reprioritize and refocus. My drawback taught me lessons that I may not have had the opportunity to learn otherwise. My drawback brought people into my life that I did not previously have time for. My drawback also drew me back closer to the God I was trying to serve in the first place. As I leaned into Him, I allowed God to direct me more than I had previously.
Joseph, in Genesis, also had a series of setbacks in his life. He was given a vision that he would be important to his family, but the series of setbacks took him further and further away from that being accomplished. However, those setbacks really served to put him in the exact position he needed to be in to be propelled forward: prison.
Prison was like a waiting room for Joseph—but he used it to network and make connections he wouldn’t have ordinarily had. It was through one of these connections that he was invited to see Pharaoh and eventually promoted to the position that would save his family. The setbacks Joseph faced were really drawbacks as God readied and aimed Joseph to fly forward to accomplish the plans He had for him.
How easy it is to get discouraged when we are faced with setbacks and the subsequent waiting rooms! We may question our entire purpose in life—wondering how we got so far from where we thought we were going. We may question our spiritual sanity—are we following God’s directions or just hearing voices in our head? We may question the God we are following—is He truly orchestrating a plan for our good and His glory?
But what if we acknowledged these times as drawbacks instead? By leaning in closer to God we can thank Him for using even the setbacks as part of a better story. By focusing on how we can serve Him in the waiting room—instead of just waiting for our name to be called—we are too busy to stare listlessly at the target that is so far away. We might even find that we may have started moving forward again without even realizing it!
What about you? Have you faced a recent setback? Do you feel so far away from where you think you should be in a certain aspect of life? Are you discouraged with your lack of progress or sudden need to focus your attentions elsewhere? Are you in a waiting room right now wishing your name would be called so you could just move forward with your day?
Lean into God as He draws you back toward Himself. Thank Him for the opportunity to serve Him in every situation. Ask Him to teach you and connect you in ways that will propel you forward when the timing is right. And remind yourself that the ultimate target, or goal, of your life is achievable in every moment—to glorify Him. We can praise Him for the drawbacks in our lives and look forward to the glory they will bring Him!
(I am literally in a waiting room right now as I type this—but looking to make good use of my time here! 😊)
Proverbs 16:9: “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.”