There have been several times in my life when I have been on a path and questioned, “What am I doing here? Where is this taking me? Am I wasting my time?” And then, the thoughts continue: “How did I get here? This is not what I expected!” And occasionally I even think: “What is the purpose?”
These thoughts take me back many years. I started my career in teaching. I was determined to teach Secondary Education, and finished my degree at BYU. As I was still single, I determined to go my own way — away from home — so I could find my own path. I had an interview in a small town and was offered a job. After sincere prayer, I felt compelled to move forward with the job. So, I moved away to a very small town: Gold Beach, Oregon. It was about 12 hours traveling distance from anyone I knew. It was a beautiful place, right next to the ocean, and filled with wonder for me. I taught my first year of English in middle and high school. It was a hard year; the year of Columbine. I remembered feeling at some point, “Why did I come to this place? Why did I feel so strongly that this was my answer?”
So, I stopped teaching and went back to school. Several times over that period, I thought, “Why did I go to Gold Beach?” For some, it may have seemed a waste of my time and energy. Even for me, at times, I wondered why. It seemed like a detour from the path I was meant to take. Was it a waste of my time and energy?
To that point in my young adult life, I often felt that I was on cruise control. There wasn’t a lot happening in terms of my goals. I couldn’t see a marriage or children in the future. I didn’t see huge success in my career. Even personally I didn’t see a big change. These were supposed to be my most successful and productive years! This was supposed to be my chance. What was happening?
As I look back in time, I see a bit of a parable. It reminds me so much of the following story:
Push Against the Rock
A man was sleeping at night in his cabin when suddenly his room filled with light and the Savior appeared. The Lord told the man he had work for him to do, and showed him a large rock in front of his cabin. The Lord explained that the man was to push against the rock with all his might.
This the man did, day after day. For many years he toiled from sun up to sun down, his shoulders set squarely against the cold, massive surface of the unmoving rock, pushing it with all his might. Each night the man returned to his cabin sore, and worn out, feeling that his whole day had been spent in vain.
Noticing that the man was showing signs of discouragement, the adversary decided to enter the picture by placing thoughts into the man’s weary mind. “You have been pushing against this rock for a long time, and it hasn’t budged. Why kill yourself over this? You are never going to move it.” Thus giving the man the impression that the task was impossible and that he was a failure. These troubling thoughts discouraged and disheartened the man. “Why kill myself over this?” I’ll just put in my time, giving just the minimum effort and that will be good enough.
And that is what he planned to do until one day he decided to make it a matter of prayer and take his thoughts to the Lord. “Lord” he said, “I have labored long and hard in your service, putting all my strength to do that which you have asked. Yet, after all this time, I have not even been able to budge that rock. What is wrong? Why am I failing?”
The Lord responded compassionately, “My friend, When I asked you to serve me and you accepted, I told you that your task was to push against the rock with all your strength, which you have done. Never once did I mention to you that I expected you to move it. Your task was to push. And now you come to me with your strength spent, thinking that you have failed. But, is that really so?”
“Look at yourself. Your arms are strong and muscled, your back sinewy and brown, your hands are callused from constant pressure, and your legs have become massive and hard. Through opposition you have grown much and your abilities now surpass that which you used to have. Yet you haven’t moved the rock. But your calling was to be obedient and to push and to exercise your faith and trust in my wisdom. This you have done. I, my friend, will now move the rock.”
Taken from: Inspirational Stories
I realize that perhaps it wasn’t my plan that was important at the time. During that period, I did change more than I can ever say. I am not the same person as that 25-year-old young woman. I am now a different being. I am not perfect — far from it — but I have developed muscles that I never imagined were necessary. I have developed understanding that I never thought was important. I have developed a faith in my Father in Heaven that has come from relying on Him when I had nowhere else to turn.
As I think back to those years, I realize how much I learned through my experiences. I also learned that in many ways, I wasn’t ready for the path my life would eventually take. I needed a little more time to push on the rock. I needed to develop a little more strength that I didn’t know I would need. In many, many ways, the Lord was waiting on me, and preparing me for the future.
I relate to this video so much. Even presently there are things in my life that I feel are detours. My own vision is so limited. I must work on my faith muscles, and never stop pushing against that rock. Sometimes I want to. I get so tired. I must continue to trust that I am being led to where He wants me to be.
I know two things about detours:
1. They are opportunities to learn and change. They can change where you are going, what you think you want, and draw you closer to your Heavenly Father.
2. If you don’t give up, and put your trust in God, you will eventually be led back to the right path.
Take advantage of the detours that God puts in your way. Stay in. Keep trusting. Keep working.
Linked at Essential Devotions