Growing up in a small town seven miles north of our public school campus meant that we had to catch the bus quite early in the morning. Because the high school started first, my sister was usually at the bus stop around 6:15 am. About a half hour later, I would join the other middle schoolers in my neighborhood to wait for our turn on #49.
One morning, while frantically stuffing homework into my backpack, I heard the bus go whizzing by our house toward its regular stop just down the street. The familiar squeak of the brakes was followed by the slow creak of the double metal doors swinging open. Bounding down the steps, I burst onto the front porch, only to hear the floppy rubber astragals slap together as the doors sealed shut. My heart sank as the V8 engine roared, propelling the bus forward to its next stop.
While a "Ferris Beuller's Day Off" experience would have been great, missing school was not an option. You can imagine, then, how thankful I was to discover that my dad had not yet left for work. Sheepishly acknowledging that I had missed the bus, I timidly asked him to drive me to school. The expression on his face told me that he was not having a good day.
Unbeknownst to me, my sister had also missed the bus earlier that morning and he had just returned from taking her to school. While he complied, it was not without understandable reluctance. Okay, perhaps "resistance" is a better word. I sunk deep into the passenger seat as I physically and metaphorically buckled my seat belt in preparation for the paternal lecture I knew I was about to receive.
As expected, it began with a less than affectionate, "You kids." Issuing a "you-need-to-get-up-an-hour-earlier-every-morning" decree, he reminded me that he was not our chauffeur and that he did not have time to be making two 30-minute round trips to get us to school every day. I grimaced as he verbally branded my forehead with the scarlet letter "I," shaming me as irresponsible.
I was never so thankful as I was that day to see the entrance sign for my school. As the car slowed, I undid my seatbelt. When he finally stopped, I mustered an animated "Thank you, Dad" and then bolted toward the front door of the school. Needless to say, in the years that followed, I dreaded the thought of missing the bus.
You can imagine then, the feelings that were resurrected when, as an adult, I sensed that I had "missed the bus" at times in my faith journey: Seeming once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to which, for one reason or another, I had said "no" by omission or by commission. In those moments, old thought patterns projected my dad's response to what I thought God's would be. I imagined the branding iron heating up as I sank into a spiritually resigned "you're going to have to live with the consequences and it will surely be second (or third, or fourth) best."
Can you relate? Perhaps there is an area in your own faith journey where you feel you have “missed the bus,” so to speak, bypassing a divine opportunity because of the circumstances at the time. And now you believe it is too late, you're too old, too much has happened, or you are too far off the path. Maybe you perceive that your original intended destiny is now out of reach and sense that when God looks at you, He sighs deeply with sacred disappointment as He tends the grave of "what could have been" in your life.
If that is the case, may I offer a word of hope that may supplant that mindset? You are steadfastly loved by a God whose compassion is inexhaustible (Lamentations 3:22-23). As the "Lord of Years"*, God is able to redeem what you have reluctantly filed under "squandered" (Joel 2:25). Beloved, your times are in His hands (Psalm 31:15).
Here is the astounding truth. The Immutable One who knew you before you were formed in your mother’s womb (Jeremiah 1:5) is relentlessly committed to seeing you fulfill your destiny (Jeremiah 29:11; see also Romans 8:28-30 TPT). God is the "Potentate of Time"*, Who is able to get you where you need to be – when you need to be there. And, you won't be late!
In the song, “Reckless Love,” Cory Asbury vividly expresses the passion of this divine insistence declaring, “There's no shadow You won't light up, mountain You won't climb up, coming after me. There's no wall You won't kick down, lie You won't tear down coming after me. Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God. Oh, it chases me down, fights 'til I'm found, leaves the ninety-nine. And I couldn't earn it, I don't deserve it, still, You give Yourself away. Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God.” THAT is how zealously the Father loves you, how deeply committed He is to you, and how willing He is, I believe, to come back around the block to pick you up if you "missed the bus."
Rest in hope today, amazing one. "I’m fully convinced that the One who began this glorious work in you will faithfully continue the process of maturing you and will put his finishing touches to it until the unveiling of our Lord Jesus Christ!” (Philippians 1:6 TPT). Abide in joyful confidence that God “will not stop in mid-design but will keep perfecting you….” (VOICE). And each step along the way, receive the grace to, "Never doubt God’s mighty power to work in you and accomplish all this." Why? Because, "He will achieve infinitely more than your greatest request, your most unbelievable dream, and exceed your wildest imagination! He will outdo them all, for his miraculous power constantly energizes you" (Ephesians 3:20 TPT).
Precious child, as you stand in faith, join the Psalmist in prayerful expectation, “You keep every promise you’ve ever made to me! Since your love for me is constant and endless, I ask you, Lord, to finish every good thing that you’ve begun in me!” (Psalm 138:8 TPT). Just watch and see what God will do. Amen.
*(Matthew Bridges/Godfrey Thring)
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