It was that sort of day from the outset; damp, breezy and nothing seemed to go right. Standing on the platform with the usual crowd of commuters to catch the 08.25 train into Edinburgh, I saw a coach creep ominously into the car park. An announcement echoed that no trains were running that morning and we would need to take the coach into Edinburgh. Due to the usual volume of traffic that would mean at least an extra half hour onto the journey.
Then, on reaching Murrayfield the driver received a message on his phone that an accident had taken place just ahead, and that he should take a different route to the city centre. He began doing so, but soon said to those sitting behind him that he didn't know that route into the city! So these passengers had to give him directions! But, instead of going to Haymarket and then on to Waverley, he announced that he would go to Waverley first and then come back to Haymarket! That was too much for those who wanted off at Haymarket, so they got out near Princes Street. Eventually those of us who were left on the coach got off halfway along Princes Street.
However, a bonus of the unexpectedly long journey was the time it gave me to reflect on how infallible is the leadership and guidance of God. It may seem to us at times that his rule has little order or even sense to it. After all the world is in turmoil so much of the time, and the events even in the lives of Christian people are sometimes difficult for themselves to fathom. Yet God is unerringly bringing all things to their appointed end. He's never late. He is not caught out by sudden, unexpected events. He never needs to take a detour from the route he had planned from the start. No-one needs to shout out directions to him.
Few people had so much suffering and mystery in their lot as Job had. There were times when he cried out in anguish in the darkness of his experiences. To his observing companions, and even at times to himself, his life seemed to be a chaos of suffering, with no shape or purpose, as when he said of God, "Behold, I go forward, but he is not there, and backward, but I do not perceive him; on the left hand when he is working, I do not behold him; he turns to the right hand, but I do not see him (Job 23:8-9)". But then, in an outburst of extraordinary faith, he said, "But he knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold. My foot has held fast to his steps; I have kept his way and have not turned aside. I have not departed from the commandment of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my portion of food (Job 23:10-12)."
Most masterpieces do not look too promising at the outset, at least not to the uninitiated. The craftsman seems not to have the necessary acumen or skill to produce an outstanding piece of work. But the end product belies the seemingly errant start. The lump of ugly, distorted clay has become an exquisite piece of pottery, fit for purpose. Through the skill of his hands the potter has transferred the plan he had in his brain to that clay and the end product corresponds exactly to the blueprint in his mind. God is building a masterpiece, a spiritual house for himself to live in. His redeemed people are his masterpiece. He needs to do a lot to them to bring them into shape. But he will do it, by various means, and the final product will be glorious!
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart; and lean not to your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct your paths (Proverbs 3:5-6)."