"In Damascus the governor under King Aretas had the city of the Damascenes guarded in order to arrest me. But I was lowered in a basket from a window in the wall and slipped through his hands"
(2 Corinthians 11:32-33).
In the 2012 movie, A Joyful Noise starring the unlikely duo of Queen Latifa and Dolly Parton, a powerful and universal and timeless truth was presented on the silver screen. In a heartfelt and moving scene, choir director Vi Rose, played by the Queen, is having a conversation with Caleb, a member of the choir facing a time of confusion, discouragement, and not "feeling the spirit." Says Caleb, "Seems like God's been using me for target practice these days...makes it kinda hard to feel the spirit." Vi Rose responds ever so quickly, "Caleb, He is God. If He wanted to shoot you, He wouldn't miss."
I remember years ago taking a trip with my mother to Six Flags Over Texas in Dallas. The excitement was intense. We were on the Texas Giant, the tallest wooden roller coaster in the world at the time. The coaster began to move and we began to make the climb towards to first of several falls. My mothers excitement quickly transformed into a cross between fear, anxiety, and uncontrollable hysteria. She began to scream to me that she wanted off, that her heart was failing, and that she wanted me to make it stop, all as we are climbing to the top of one of the most thrilling rides of the times. Of course, as any good son would do, I laughed and prepared to go down as we had come up! The entire ride, my hands were up, I was shouting with great excitement as my mother continued to shout, "Christopher, get me off this thing!" And, I continued to laugh. As we were climbing out of our coaster car, she turned and looked at me and said, "that was horrible...let's do it again!"
Sometimes it does feel as if we are sitting target waiting to fall prey to the shots being fired all around us. For every one step forward it seems almost destiny to take two steps back. There's that moment when we know that God is right by our side. We "feel the spirit" and have this confidence that everything's going to be OK. Then, all of a sudden, the feeling changes from light to dark, and we feel as though we are on some ride that is spinning us in circles that just won't stop. We look for a way out and wonder if it will ever appear.
2 Corinthians 11:32-33 is Paul's way of expressing his own experience with a familiar thought. With Paul, there was a plan to remove him from the effective work God had called him to do. No matter how they tried, God made a way for the furtherance of the Gospel of Truth. Paul faced betrayal, rejection, straight-on attacks. This was all for doing exactly what God had told him to do. Where was the way out? Sometimes the way out is to ride it out. God will use every situation to teach us what He wants us to know.
Ultimately, the lesson is simply this: God makes a way! Look at your life. You may not understand or agree with all that's happened in it. But, look at how God has used, or is using, every moment, every mistake, every wrong thing done to you as a way of teaching you. He's continuing to show you His love, His forgiveness, His comfort, the fact that He can use you no matter who you are, what you've done, or where you've been. Your destiny is still designed by the works of His hands. Hold on to the Truth that God loves you. You don't have to live in anxiety or fear over some fictional target practice or where the roller coaster of life is taking you. God will show you the way. He will guide you and protect you. And if you're still looking for that way out, look to Jesus. He said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life..." (John 14:6).