What does it mean to be on guard when life takes a detour? Eight months after receiving “guard” as my focus word for 2022, I’m beginning to appreciate its relevance to my life in ways I hadn’t imagined.
“Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong,” says 1 Corinthians 16:13 (NLT). In times past, I’ve read that verse and nodded in agreement before closing my Bible and going on my merry way for the day. But this week was different.
Life has taken a detour.
I’m sitting in a friend’s basement suite as I write this. Sailor-Man and I are temporarily displaced from our boat-home while she sits in the marina’s repair yard. A submerged log bent her rudder in July, and without a rudder, she has no steering capacity. A massive sling pulled her from the river on August 9, and there she sits, on the concrete, more than two weeks later with only a hopeful end date in sight.
Living in the repair yard especially during summer heat is not for the faint of heart. I’m okay with using public showers, but exiting the vessel via steep stairs to use the community outhouse especially at night—not so much. Besides, there’s no access to wi-fi there, and I can’t do my work without it.
When a couple from our church invited us to stay in their basement suite an hour’s drive from the marina, we accepted their offer with gratitude. Still, Sailor-Man drives back and forth nearly every day to oversee repairs while juggling his ministry responsibilities. The other day, he made the round trip twice, and he has spent about ten nights aboard the Makana to accommodate the repair guys’ early morning schedule and to ensure all systems—especially the freezer—continue to work.
Life has taken a detour. Our routine is anything but normal, and I miss it.
Writing deadlines are hurtling towards me at breakneck speed, and I’m seriously struggling to meet them. It didn’t help that my computer went for repairs last Wednesday, and things didn’t go as well as expected. I lost access to my documents for three days. That meant losing three days to prepare for upcoming speaking engagements, write podcast episodes, and research for my next First 5 assignment.
A little voice inside says, “It’s time to push the panic button.” Another says, “It’s time to practice what it means to be on guard.” I’m choosing to listen to the latter voice, and wow—it’s taking me to new places. New lessons learned. New fodder for writing.
What does it mean to be on guard when life takes a detour? Here are 5 hot-off-the-press insights:
- Be on guard against the little voice that speaks lies. It’s not time to push the panic button. My present circumstances are no surprise to God. He knew about the detour well in advance. He knew what my calendar would look like at this time, and He’s got this. He’s got me. I can trust Him.
- Be on guard against idols. I’m asking myself where I’ve placed my hope in times past. Have I trusted in the power of a comfortable routine to help me stay focused when juggling multiple balls, or have I trusted in the Lord’s strength?
- Be on guard against anger. The other day, I felt my blood pressure rise when I couldn’t get access to my documents. In all honesty, I wanted someone to blame. Thankfully the Holy Spirit got hold of my head and tweaked my thinking. “Anger doesn’t fix anything. Try prayer instead,” He said.
- Be on guard against a woe-is-me attitude. I might be temporarily displaced but I’m staying with sweet friends in their lovely home. How different from millions of Ukrainian women who have lost everything and fled to a foreign country to start life over not knowing whether they’ll ever be reunited with their husband and loved ones? My circumstances are far from what I wish they were right now, but they’re far better than those faced by millions around the world. Perspective goes a long way.
- Be on guard against what-if thinking. Several days ago, repairs seemed to be going well. Then Sailor-Man discovered that a rubber sleeve (a “gator”) associated with the rudder shaft had been torn when the rudder was removed. It’s a necessary piece of equipment because it prevents water from seeping into the boat. When he asked the repair guy about it, he learned that it has to be custom-made in the States. It’s now on order, but its delivery date is beyond our control. My mind goes to places like, “What if it doesn’t arrive within a few days? Then repairs can’t be complete and we can’t move back into the boat. We can’t stay with our friends indefinitely….yada, yada.” I have to switch my thinking to, “Even if this piece of equipment takes longer than expected to arrive, God is still in control.” It takes intentionality to turn my thinking around, but it’s necessary for calm in the chaos.
Be on guard, the Word warns.
It’s the only way to keep hope alive when life takes a detour. Besides, there’s a silver lining to this whole misadventure: I’m learning firsthand to re-apply the lessons about which I’ve written in Keeping Hope Alive: Devotions for Strength in the Storm. (FYI — it’s on sale today on Amazon.ca)
How about you? How does the concept of being on guard when life takes a detour resonate with you? What hot-off-the-press insights would you add to my list?
This song by Ryan Stevenson is sooo relevant right now for sooo many reasons:
In the Eye of the Storm — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X2FqFLKisys