Often my GPS and I don't agree on the route I should take to a given destination. Sometimes, the coordinates are off and it doesn't instruct me to turn until I've already passed the road I should take. Other times, I simply don't like the route I see ahead and navigate on an alternate route. Whatever the case, I often see the words RECALCULATING appear across my TomTom screen.
A few days ago, a friend tagged me in a Facebook post. As I read the comments of others on the post, I saw one from someone I didn't recognize. Attempting to establish a point of reference, I used the nifty little mutual friends button under her profile. I was stunned that even though we've never met personally, we share mutual friends from six different states. Even more interesting, on my end, those friendships were formed during five different seasons of life. As I thought about this real life illustration of the six degrees of separation theory, I couldn't help but think of my personal journey and all the twists and turns along the way. I thought about what Kevin and I like to call "kingdom connections". In other words, the relationships God has orchestrated through "intersections" on our journey. Often, these relationships have been used in a way we could never plan on our own for Kingdom Purposes that are so much bigger than us. Over and over, we have experienced the truth of Proverbs 16:9
A person may plan his own journey, but the LORD directs his steps. (God's Word Translation)
Often, we've stood in awe and sometimes even giggled when, in hindsight, we see His plan come together in a way we never could've dreamed up on our own. He truly does see the beginning and the end of the journey - and all of the rest stops in between.
During a recent school day, Jaedyn and I were studying Michelangelo and his work on the Sistine Chapel. I smiled to myself as I discovered that Michelangelo, too, had a malfunctioning GPS. His journey took a much different twist than he initially planned. Interestingly enough, Michelangelo was a sculptor, not a painter. He had no experience painting other than minimally dabbling in it in art school. He had no skill at all in the medium that would be used to produce the beauty that is the Sistine Chapel.
While working on a sculpting project for the pope’s tomb, Pope Julius II requested that Michelangelo shift his focus and paint the grand Sistine Chapel. He would not take no for an answer and he would not consider anyone else but Michelangelo to do the work. Michelangelo preferred the commissioning of the tomb, a project that ended up taking 40 years to complete due to multiple interruptions. To say Michelangelo was less than thrilled about painting doesn’t begin to describe his reluctance to take on the task of the chapel. Finally, stepping way out of his comfort zone and his giftedness (or so he thought), Michelangelo agreed. He spent four grueling years on the project, working many hours with his arms over his head in a backbreaking position to produce a masterpiece. Those four years produced such misery in him that he penned a poem to a friend detailing the torture that it produced in him daily. He ended with an affirmation that he shouldn’t have changed his day job: “I am not in the right place—I am not a painter.”
500 years later, The Sistine Chapel is still the most visited room in the world. It is still an amazing work of art that is visited by almost 5 million people annually. In addition to the chapel’s volume of visitors, the portion of the chapel’s artwork entitled “The Creation Of Adam” has become one of the world’s most recognizable and widely reproduced images. It depicts the hands of Adam and God reaching for each other. It is seen on walls far beyond the borders of Rome. In fact, the image hangs on my own bedroom wall.
Who would've ever thought that a sculptor-enticed-to-be-a-painter-against-his-will would, in misery, produce something so meaningful to generations of believers and non-believers? How could Michelangelo have ever comprehended that a simple detour in his life would produce beauty that would have such a wide reaching impact? How could he have predicted that a season of such personal pain produced his life’s greatest work?
I’m so glad I serve a gracious God who does not share my tunnel vision. He always sees the big picture. There are no blind spots with Him. He knows the best route, even when I stubbornly get off course.
You may be walking through a season you don’t understand. Things may not have turned out the way you expected. Maybe you, like Michelangelo, feel like you’re in the wrong place or stuck in a job that is out of your skill set. Perhaps life has dealt you a blow you weren’t expecting and it is difficult to see the horizon through the bends in the road and the fog in front of you. It is possible that you will not know for years how he is using mundane and painful circumstances in the darkest days of your life to produce fruit in a season yet to come. Look for connection points along your journey. You’ll be amazed to discover the intricate ways he steers and intersects your life to accomplish His purposes. He delights in details. Stay the course and don’t despise the route He sets before you. It may not be the fastest route – sometimes it may seem you are taking the stairs rather than the elevator – but it will get you to your destination at the perfect time. Remember, sometimes the slower route is the most scenic.
The LORD directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Ps 37:23 NLT