Funny how some changes and mistakes can benefit us. Although a regular at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers conference near Santa Cruz, I missed the last seven years. However, my confidence never dimmed regarding directions, so I left the map at home. Never even glanced at it. A well-worn route. But Palm Sunday came early this year, right at the switch to Daylight Savings Time, and the conference changed its close from lunch to a 7:15 breakfast, so I left in the darkness at 6 AM, hoping to beat the metro LA afternoon traffic.
Those changes led to my mistake. From Hwy 1 you need to get off to reach the 101 at Salinas, my route home. I'd have been OK, except for the continuing darkness that obscured the landmarks, and I took the wrong road. Oh yeah, the signs said it led to 101, but it turned out to not be the most direct. Within five to ten minutes I realized I'd gone off track, but continued.
The downside: that mistake brought an extra 30 miles or so to reach Salinas, and seeing a friend in Carpinteria and two slowdowns from accidents added enough time to stick me in the LA traffic I so wished to avoid.
The upside: for the first time, I experienced Watsonville, a cool old farming town in the pic above. And in place of the flat dreary farmland of 1 and the CORRECT route, the Mustang cruised through some hills and nice curves with the top down as dawn broke. Not a bad trade off.
The spiritual upside: I thought of Paul, when he went to Troas where God opened a door for him to preach. But he didn't feel at peace with what God had done (MUCH more important than me making a wrong turn), so he booked out of there. I expected lightning to turn him into a Post Toastie, but the next verse told a different story, "...Christ always leads us in triumph" (2 Corinthians 2:14, RSV).
Even though Paul took a wrong turn, God still led him in triumph. Doesn't that influence our perception of our mistakes? Don't we see the freedom God gives us to make choices, even wrong ones? That kind of amazes me, how God works with our decisions, including our decisions to ignore him, but still accomplishes victory. With us.
Kick Starting the Application
How do you typically respond to spiritual mistakes you make? Can you think of one where God used that mistake to either enrich you or to touch others for good? Do you ever feel more inclined to make a wrong decision knowing God can transform it? If so, does that match his character? Do you see how God always leading us in triumph can take some of the sting of sin away?