Once my 8-month-old grandson learned to crawl, his determination was incredible. Nothing was going to keep him from getting to his destination.
Each morning, just after waking up, he made a circuit around the living room’s perimeter, a veritable obstacle course. First, he inched under the coffee table, then maneuvered over a stack of pillows, crawled between the wall and an end table and finally ventured across the tiled floor on bare knees.
The obstacles slowed him but they never stopped him from moving forward.
While my grandmomma instinct was to help him when it looked too hard, his parents watched patiently, letting him struggle until he had moved through each barrier.
They didn’t move the coffee table or shove the pillows aside to make it easier. They smiled at his tenacity and if at any point he would have come against something impossible, they would have bent down to rescue.
Oh, for that trusting tenacity when there are obstacles.
Because here’s what obstacles often do to me.
Some obstacles loom so large they make me feel weak and depleted just looking at them. They seem oversized and overcomplicated and I feel stuck before I’ve even started to deal with them.
Some obstacles make me feel foolish, second guessing whether I should even be on this path. I stepped way out in faith to follow you, God, and now this, I think. Look how others are making it to their destination so easily and quickly. I ought to just cut my losses and turn around right here.
And then, some obstacles trigger an inner tantrum. This isn’t fair, my flesh screams. Why this roadblock? Why this waiting? I want the destination and I want it right now.
But these reactions are rooted in an assumption that isn’t true: that if I listen closely and follow obediently, God’s path will spare me from all obstructions.
The truth is that God not only allows obstacles, sometimes he creates them.
David was anointed to be Israel’s next king, but there was no short, straight line to the throne. He waited decades, running for his life and enduring a civil war before finally being appointed king of all Israel.
Nehemiah followed God’s call to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. This God-ordained project started smoothly — with permission and supplies from the Assyrian king — but soon faced one obstacle after another including false reports, political influence and conspiracies to harm Nehemiah and his men. Despite every problem, the wall was rebuilt in record time.
Paul followed God’s call to move out on a second missionary journey. Twice, the Holy Spirit hindered him from going into certain Asian provinces. Doors he longed to see open remained shut. But that divine obstruction caused him to take the gospel to Philippi, Corinth, Athens and Ephesus.
Why God Allows Obstacles on Our Path
If we are following God, obstacles aren’t meant to defeat us or deter us but to direct us and keep us dependent on God.
While obstacles at first feel like a no from God, they are often a not yet or not here.
If we’re on a path of God’s doing, then these are God’s obstacles. He knows about them. He’s watching and he will either give us strength to struggle through or he will bend down and move them aside.
God allows obstacles even on God-ordained paths for his purposes.
We can trust that God is using the obstacle to orchestrate his perfect timing.
We can trust that God is using the obstacle to refine our character and purify our motives.
We can trust that God is using the obstacle to display his glory.
I’m learning not to draw back when I see a looming obstacle or get stuck, but to give it to God. I may be a slow learner but I no longer throw in the towel or stomp my foot with impatience, but trust that God is working even in the obstacle.
We are God’s. We’re on paths of his doing. And the obstacles against us are his to deal with.
Just yesterday, I saw these words that summed up my heart. They’re now on the inner flap of my Bible, a daily reminder —
Good morning, I’ll be handling all of your problems today.
Relax, trust me and enjoy the day! I love you, God.
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