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Stuck in ReverseHow to Let God Change Your Direction
By CHARLES STANLEY
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2008 Charles F. Stanley
All right reserved.
Chapter OneHow Did You Get Here?
It was a beautiful day-the kind that seemed perfect in every way. The weather was fantastic, the scenery was beautiful, and the temperature was just right. I had traveled to Oregon on a photography trip. A few days into the venture, I found myself driving on a road built alongside a rambling river with numerous waterfalls. I had gotten up before dawn to have the correct light for the photographs I wanted to take. However, after stopping beside the river I realized something was not right. The lighting was wrong, and I knew it would be later in the day before it would be exactly what I needed for my photographs.
Since I had plenty of time, I decided to look over the map to see what other points of interest were close by. I remembered that Mount Hood was only a few miles away, but could I drive there before the sun was too high? Early in the morning and late in the evening are some of the best times to photograph. This is when the colors are the richest and most inviting.
As I suspected, Mount Hood was only a short drive away. However, I needed to get away from the cloister of the river and find a road that would lead me to an area that overlooked the mountain. I also noticed on the map that there was a small lake near the mountain, and I began to imagine taking a photograph of the mountain's reflection in the small glasslike lake. The scene would be quiet, thought provoking, and most of all, one that would portray the glory of God's majesty. So I started my car and headed in Mount Hood's direction.
I continued along the road until-just as I had imagined-a small mirrorlike lake appeared in the distance. Looming in the background was the image of Mount Hood in all its inescapable wonder. I pulled the car over and parked in a place where I could unload my equipment and set it up. After taking several photos, I walked back to the car, climbed in, and thought that since the lighting had changed, I would return to the river and finish photographing the stream that had appeared so relaxing earlier.
At that moment, a thought passed through my mind urging me to check the gas gauge. To my shock, it was close to empty. I had been completely absorbed in what I was doing-photographing the beautiful scenery and enjoying my surroundings-but now my mind raced to retrace the route I had taken an hour earlier. Suddenly I remembered that I had not passed a gas station. Quickly I grabbed the map and confirmed what I already had thought: the nearest town was miles away, and I did not have enough gas to get there.
It appeared I was stuck!
God Always Has the Answer We Need
Many people spend a great part of their lives living out over and over again what I have just described. They start out living for the Lord-walking step-by-step beside Him-and then suddenly they are off running in a different direction, never thinking about the consequences of their actions or their choices.
I was miles away from where I was staying, and I realized I needed help. Daylight in a mountainous area can disappear quickly, and I did not want to spend the night in the shadow of Mount Hood.
What do you do when you realize you are in the wrong place-stuck in reverse when you should be moving forward? Many people panic or simply collapse and give up. But God never wants us to do that. His desire is for us to learn to trust Him at all times in all kinds of situations.
Immediately I prayed, "Lord, You know my circumstances. You know how far the next gas station is from where I am located. You are totally in control, and I am asking You to send me the help I need." In faith, I turned the key over in the ignition. However, before I could put the car into drive, I heard something that sounded like a very large truck coming in my direction. To my amazement, it was a power company truck. The man driving it pulled into a space right in front of my car. He got out and climbed a nearby utility pole, adjusted something, and came back down.
I got out of the car and waited for him, believing that he was the answer to my prayer. Then I walked over to him and asked, "Can you tell me where I can find a gas station?"
The man smiled and said, "Sure!" He pointed down the road and said, "Go up this road about another quarter of a mile, turn left, and you will see one on your right." Then he said good-bye, climbed back into his truck, and drove away.
I got back into my car and thought about what I would have done had he not stopped. More than likely, I would have driven back the way I had come and run out of gas. When we do realize we are in trouble, we want to rush back to a point of safety. God, however, knows the beginning and the end. He knows the right route for us to travel from one point to another. The shortest and safest way for us to travel is the route He chooses. God has always provided exactly what I needed-when I needed it.
The Right Direction
The one thing we must remember is that God is waiting for us to call out to Him so He can work in our circumstances and straighten out the problems we are facing. When our hearts are turned toward Him in sincere devotion, He will speak to us and show us the right way to go every time. After filling my gas tank, I headed back in the direction of the river I had driven beside earlier and took some terrific photographs.
You may feel as though you are totally out of fuel. Or you may feel as though you are traveling backward. Instead of going forward in life, you are either stuck on the side of the road or in reverse. What do you do? How do you pick up the pieces of your shattered life after suffering a deep blow of discouragement? Is there a way out of the storm that seems to have broken over your life? The answer is yes. God knows the surest route for you to take to the closest fueling station.
In fact, the distance is usually no more than about twelve to sixteen inches or whatever distance it is for you to fall to your knees in prayer. When we cry out to God, He always listens and never fails to answer.
You may have spent many years living out what you thought were your dreams. What you have found is that they are broken dreams and you are far, far from home. Through Jesus Christ, there is hope for the future, love enough to last an eternity, and grace enough to cover every sin you have committed. Even if you feel as though your gas tank is completely empty and there is no hope for your future, God still has a plan, and because He loves you with an everlasting love, there is always hope through Jesus Christ. He is the source of your every need.
Excerpted from Stuck in Reverse by CHARLES STANLEY Copyright © 2008 by Charles F. Stanley. Excerpted by permission.
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