Is It a Detour If You Find Gold?
Her First Words Were A Song—At Twenty
Have you ever wondered what God is doing while you are looking in the wrong place for something you lost and needed very badly? He knows exactly where it is, and he is letting you look in the wrong place. He is watching you. He sees you looking in the wrong room where you think you left it. Or the wrong store where you think you dropped it. Or the wrong book, where you think you read it. Why?
Well, here is one answer from my experience yesterday. I needed a quote for a new edition of Desiring God. I knew I had read it in Richard Wurmbrand. I thought it was in his devotional book, Reaching Toward the Heights. I could almost see it on the right hand side of the facing pages. But I couldn’t find it. I paged through 365 pages twice looking at every page to spot the key words that I remembered. I thought, “Lord, this is a big waste of time. I only have a few days to get this revision finished. Please, why can’t I lay my eyes on it?” I still have not found it.
But while I was looking, I was riveted on one page, the devotional for November 30. As I read it, I said, “This is one of the reasons I have had to keep looking for my quote.” Here was a story, not for me, but for parents of broken children. Having broken children is like looking in the wrong place for what you lost and cannot find. Why? Why? Why? For this story I gladly “sacrifice” a half hour of precious time. This was the unplanned reward of “wasted” moments.
In a home for retarded children, Catherine was nurtured twenty years. The child had been a complete idiot from the beginning and had never spoken a word, but only vegetated. She either gazed quietly at the walls or made distorted movements. To eat, to drink, to sleep, were her whole life. She seemed not to participate at all in what happened around her. A leg had to be amputated. The staff wished Cathy well and hoped that the Lord would soon take her to Himself.
One day the doctor called the director to come quickly. Catherine was dying. When both entered the room, they could not believe their senses. Catherine was singing Christian hymns she had heard and had picked up, just those suitable for death beds. She repeated over and over again the German song, “Where does the soul find its fatherland, its rest?” She sang for half an hour with transfigured face, then she passed away quietly. (Taken from The Best Is Still to Come, Wuppertal: Sonne und Shild)
Is anything that is done in the name of Christ really wasted? My frustrated, futile search for what I thought I needed was not wasted. Singing to this retarded “vegetable” was not wasted. And your agonizing, unplanned detour is not a waste—not if you look to the Lord for his unexpected work, and do what you must do in his name (Colossians 3:17). The Lord works for those who wait for him (Isaiah 64:4).
Learning the patience of living by faith in future grace,
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Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By John Piper. ©2013 Desiring God Foundation. Website: desiringGod.org