God’s Roadmaps for Life

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When we went on our first family vacation, we drove our relatively 1956 Buick Special new from Baltimore to Miami. Only small pieces of the Interstate system were in finished, so my dad patched together a route from a bunch of different roads. We had these AAA roadmaps all over the car. While there was one for the entire east coast of America, we also had one map for each of the six states that we’d be driving through. Remember that these were the days before air conditioning in cars. So trying to use those roadmaps with the wind blowing through open windows while driving 60 miles an hour was really challenging. If not impossible.

God’s Roadmaps for Life

We not only needed a roadmap back then, but we need a map today. We need a map on how we’re going to get somewhere. Achieve something. And like all maps, there’s a starting and ending point. Getting from where you are to where you want to go.

Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church. – Colossians 1:24

The starting point that most people seem to have is suffering and pain. We’re all going to experience them. They’re either here, just leaving, or just around the corner. So, it’s not a matter of if but a matter of when.

When suffering and pain come, what are we to do? How are we going to handle it? What’s the roadmap for going through suffering and pain? Since God gave Paul a roadmap during his suffering, I think that’s a good place to look.

Paul didn’t try to just ignore his suffering, pretending that it wasn’t there. No, he faces his suffering head on. He looked at it in light of God’s overwhelming love for him. He compared his pain to God’s lavish grace.

Basically, Paul took the weight of his pain and suffering in one hand and compared that to God’s mercy in the other. He immediately figured out that there was no comparison. God’s unbelievably tremendous love for him. The result is that his sorrow turned into joy.

Now it would be easy to just think that Paul was exaggerating his problems. That he was just being a baby and not man enough to spend a few days in a minimum-security facility.

After all, how tough could it be? Here’s a quick summary of what Paul experienced. Whipped five times by the Jews. Beaten with rods three times. Stoned. Shipwrecked three times. Left adrift at sea. And these are only some of the highlights. It doesn’t include his moving from place to place all the time. Being hungry. Cold. Without enough clothing. Without water.