Few things are more frustrating around the holidays than needing to go through Deptford near the shopping district. On any given weekend it’s chaotic at best to drive into the bottle necked roads that lead to the areas shopping mecca. Go ahead, try and plan your trip out…add in the variables and a deep breath. So, when you find that one-day sale for that one thing for that one person you head into Deptford as if going into war, car key lifted, forward! As the days grow closer to Christmas, the weekend mess turns into an everyday debacle, add to that extended hours, the 24/7 nightmare. Don’t even mention the politics and protocols of parking lots. It’s almost as if you can’t wait for Christmas to be over just to get back to vehicular normality. I say that because we can all relate to it. Come on, honestly…it’s frustrating. I do believe I’ve seen some of you cutting me off or honking when I didn’t quite make it through the now red light.

Only one thing seems to matter on that one day you see that one person open that one present and tell you “it’s perfect, it’s exactly what I needed”. The glow on their face warms your heart and the thoughts of what you went through to get it fades from memory. Which is why you go back to Deptford the following year for that one-day sale for the one thing for that one person, once again.

We hate going through Deptford during the holidays but what comes out of it we wouldn’t change at all. The outcome justifies the hassle. There is reward in the end. It all worked out…for the good.

It might be going through Deptford on weekends for some but what about going through things on a much bigger scale…in life? On your faith journey you may feel like you are wandering a desert aimlessly with stoppages, setbacks, tie ups, longing for it to be done. You may even think “this better be worth it”.  Sitting in your car in a jam or sitting at home pondering your troubles, you’re not seeing the end. Sure, you know traffic will move again and your life’s impending doom is temporal, but currently you’re not moving. But like the gift that gave someone such a delight, God’s plans for us have good endings. You will be able to look back later and see where He brought you and what He brought you out of.

Deptford traffic and desert wanderings don’t last.

Romans 8:18-28
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance. Likewise, the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

I love this quote from David Mains in When the Troops Are Tired:
“Often our agenda is not HIS agenda.  Our perspective is quite different from God’s perspective.  Our desires are often at odds with His desires. Some of the best things in my life didn’t come about because of my careful planning. Instead, in the struggling that has often marked my walk of faith.  Insisting on my own wishes has often resulted in spiritual delays and stoppages.  By contrast, yielding to His strange yet wonderful ways have consistently ended up in exciting and productive faith adventures.”

Obviously, in our “faith adventure” it is much more important to find spiritual direction and help than finding a sales paper and fighting traffic for a Christmas gift. When we bring our struggles before God, and lay them at His feet, we need to know that He already has a planned outcome. While the hurt and struggles are real to us, God knows what we are going through. He is with us every step of the way. His plans, His map, His path…we can find by being in His Word, being in the Spirit and being in prayer. We have this hope…

We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.