I'm sure most of us have seen this picture at some point. The premise is the realization that we fail our way forward, learn from our mistakes, and persevere through the adversity and obstacles that come our way. My frustration is that often times we assume this picture means that if we had made different choices our path would have been more direct, less difficult, and come with fewer regrets.
Romans 11:33 says, "Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgements, and his paths beyond tracing out!" When I read that this morning I immediately thought of this picture. And as I sat contemplating the truth of Romans 8:28 which tells us that God works all things together for good, and Jeremiah 29:11 which says that he has a plan for our lives, I began to think there is another interpreation to this image. One that is much more encouraging.
Our lives are meant to be in a constant state of moving towards God and closer to his heart. As we endure struggles meant to refine us and reveal his glory, what we might see as an avoidable setback had we chosen differently, could actually be a divine set up to draw us ever closer and into deeper dependence upon our Father in heaven. And if he is in control as we believe he is, that squiggly line, when stretched out, would be a straight shot into the life he had planned from before our first breath.
It's so easy to look back and see what we would call mistakes and assume that our lives would look radically different if we had only gone down a different road. But somehow in his infinite wisdom, God made a plan for all of it, knowing that through each step, we would get closer to him. And so maybe instead of feeling intense regret and mourning for what might have been, we should take a step back in awe and wonder and bask in the glory of his amazing grace that has held and lead us all along.
Lord, your ways are unsearchable. While you call us to repentence for the things that go against your best for our lives, help us to remember that you knew what we would do and that you loved us enough to include even that as part of your redemption story. Help us to forgive ourselves of the moments that you used to ultimately draw us closer to you and celebrate that you have not only forgiven us, but have given us the righteousness of Christ in exchange. We love you and stand in awe of your overflowing grace. Amen.