Blocked paths

    March 28, 2019

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    I enjoy solving spatial reasoning puzzles. Although these puzzles have many variations, most of them revolve around discovering where to put lines that ultimately connect to form one continuous loop around the entire puzzle — often with many strange and creative twists and turns. Interestingly, discovering where to put the lines often comes as much from eliminating the wrong paths as from seeing the right paths.

    Recently, I had a particularly challenging day. Frustrations had arisen. Doors had closed. Nothing had seemed to go right. I needed to try to slow down my brain and unwind for the day, and a puzzle seemed to be a good way to accomplish that. I began to connect dots, drawing the lines that would eventually create a fun pattern across the entire page. When the first definite wrong path revealed itself, I placed an “X” on the path instead of drawing a line. Then I drew a second “X” and a third. Soon, more “X’s” than lines filled my page.

    As I worked, the thought occurred to me that the puzzle, filled with more obstacles than openings, resembled my day. Immediately following that thought was the realization that, like with the puzzle, all of the frustrations, closed doors, and redirections of my day were probably just as important to my learning and growing as any successes would have been.

    I can’t help but think of Joseph. His path was rather violently redirected when his brothers sold him into slavery. Yet, at his reunion with those same brothers some 20 years later, he absolved them of their guilt as he pointed out God’s hand in the whole situation. The revelation of God’s plan didn’t change the pain of the slavery, imprisonment and separation from his family. But, as he looked back, Joseph gleaned comfort from the knowledge that each obstacle did, in fact, set him on the path he needed to be on. And Joseph not only saw it, but also rejoiced in it!

    Right now, that’s where I am convicted. Unlike Joseph, I often neglect to stop and consider how each “X” in my life has led to a place of God’s glory. Instead, I complain. I whine. I give into the frustration and wallow in the discouragement.

    When we are truly surrendered to Christ as Lord, we know without a doubt that every step of our lives is directed by the One who knows what the final design looks like. He knows what paths we need to follow and which ones we must avoid. The attitude in which we follow that path is up to us. Will we whine and complain or observe and rejoice?

    I’ve been a whiner for too long. I’m ready to rejoice. Who’s with me?

    Ann Hibbard is a member of East End Baptist Church in East End. Read her blog at

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