Changing Direction

  • Randy Karlberg
Man holding a compass looking at the sun

Our family was so excited to attend the wedding of our very good friend.  We had to drive to Soldotna, a trip that takes roughly 3 hours from our home in Anchorage.  In true Karlberg fashion by the time the whole tribe was cleaned, loaded up, and on the road the estimated time of arrival was 45 minutes before the ceremony would begin.  This was a success story for our family’s punctuality record.  And then all of a sudden while we were driving, all of the brake lights ahead of us started coming on!  We were in traffic backed up for almost a mile.  This was just before we entered Cooper Landing, Alaska.  There had been a fatal accident which had closed the highway down.  It was not going to open up for several hours.

There was disappointment and frustration from the collective familial unit.  This was compounded by a flood of distraught tears when my response to my daughter’s request to go another way was realized.  I told her “There is no other way!  We are going to miss the wedding!”  You see the place where the accident happened was in a narrow, two-lane highway section that has an incredible mountain range on one side and the massive Kenai Lake on the other.  The only way to get there in time would be to fly.  It would be a 2 hour drive back to Anchorage for the airport alone and we do not have a bush pilot on speed-dial to land at the remote airstrip in Cooper Landing to get us there in time!  Unfortunately the only choice we had was to sit for hours and miss the festivities, or drive back to Anchorage and miss the festivities.  Our plans had changed, and there was nothing we could do to change it.

The closing down of the highway because of a death is obviously the correct decision to make.  When death is on the line, it often alters one’s life plans.  I have a very close friend right now who has had their whole life changed with the revelation of a life-threatening medical condition.  This reality brings a very different, much more refined focus on what it means to be alive on this earth.  When our family is in crisis, our plans often change to meet the needs of the particular crisis.  Our family is not only the main draw for our emotional condition; it is also the main responsibility we have been given on earth.

In I Timothy 3 and Titus 1 the qualifications are listed for leadership in God’s Church.  One of those qualifications is that the leader be “the husband of one wife” and that he must have his home in order.  His children must not be rebellious.  The idea is stated that if a man cannot lead his own household, how can he help lead God’s house?  Therefore, it is clear that a person’s family is their number one ministry, for if they do not take care of that ministry, it impacts any other ministry they may desire to lead. 

When other people in our sphere of influence are in crisis, it tends to impact our lives as well and often redirects our priorities.  We find time to spend with those in crisis because we realize that this is a huge moment in a person’s life that will have lasting effects.  We all realize that there are things in our world that will rise to such a level of importance as to redirect our lives’ path, priorities, or time allotment.  These intervals in our life are when we really see what is actually important to us. 

This is why the Bible tells us to hold lightly our plans and our dreams.  We are taught that God is the one who is in control, and we had better realize that His will supersedes all other wills.  This is what Proverbs 16:9 teaches, “The heart of a man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.”  Proverbs 21:1 instructs us that even the most powerful in our world are subject to God’s will.  “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; He turns it wherever He will.”  It would behoove us to remember that our plans are always at the mercy of God’s mercy and direction.

The idea of holding lightly to our plans and instead diligently seeking out God’s plan is never so clear than in James 4:13-17.  “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’ – yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring.  What is your life?  For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.  Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.’  As it is, you boast in your arrogance.  All such boasting is evil.  So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.”  The longer God has allowed me to live, the more I realize how true these words are!  Our lives are a “mist” and as we see the years passing at a more accelerated pace, it is much easier to see that our life can be changed in an instant.

It is my prayer that I will not be evil in boasting as to what “I” have planned for my life!  I certainly do not want to live in arrogance thinking that I know better than the Creator of the Universe Himself!  I am continually tempted to think that way though.  Lord help me to live my life with a passion that fully appreciates, “If the Lord wills!”  Each of us must be prepared to change directions.  It is only a matter of time until God directs you in His will that you never imagined.