The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps. (Proverbs 16:9 ESV)

The shortest distance between two points is a straight line. We all learned this in geometry. The problem is, we often try to apply this geometric principle to our lives. We make our lists, set our goals, map out the path to get there and off we go, praying for God’s assistance in getting us there. Everything’s fine as long as it all goes according to plan. But the truth is, we don’t live in some 2-dimensional, theoretical plane that adheres to these geometric laws. Life is messy. We live in a world of all kinds of forces. Relationships, finances, health issues, fears, desires, sin, injustice, and all kinds of things pulling us in different directions.

So what happens when our straight line from point A to point B is acted upon by all of these other forces? Our lines get crooked, and we don’t like crooked lines. When our lines get crooked we get upset, disappointed, mad, frustrated, we play the “what if” or “if only” game. We have regrets, we give up, or we get depressed. Sometimes, we feel guilty and feel as if we’ve let God down because after all, God draws these neat and tidy little straight lines from point A to point B, doesn’t He?

Well, does He? If God’s will is for our lives to follow straight lines from point A to point B, what about Joseph? He became the most powerful man in Egypt, second only Pharaoh. But Joseph didn’t chart that course and map it out himself. He didn’t attend Egyptville High School or graduate from the University of Egypt. Far from it. He made his brothers mad, was thrown into a pit and sold into slavery. Then he got a good job, was taken advantage of by a bad woman, and was thrown in jail. Whilst there he interpreted a dream and for a time was completely forgotten. Then he was given another job, became rich and powerful and as a result was able to deliver his people from starvation and cause them to move to the next stage of their historic journey. That circuitous route wasn’t Joseph’s plan, but it WAS God’s plan, and it took an entire lifetime.

So, maybe we should stop being disappointed if we haven’t managed to get from point A to point B as we had planned, and we should stop feeling that we’ve let God down. Let’s acknowledge that His ways are not our ways and rest in the fact that while we are trying to draw straight lines, God is drawing crooked lines.

This passage is adapted from a piece that appeared recently in

God draws crooked lines