Does God put obstacles in our path to make us turn around?

My parents and I had been planning to take a short trip to Colorado Springs for months. My tax accountant is in Colorado Springs (it’s a long story), and with all the changes I’ve had in my financial life this year, we figured we needed a face-to-face meeting with him.

I got new tires put on my car specifically expecting to drive it to Colorado Springs, but Tuesday morning, our plans changed. We’d gotten the car all loaded up, and Mom prayed over our trip for safety–and just like that, the car wouldn’t start. It just sat there like a lump. My 2012 Malibu was dead in the front yard.

We had to make a decision. Was it a sign that we shouldn’t go? Did that mean we needed to reschedule and go the week after? We thought about it, prayed about it, and then we transferred everything to my mom’s 2006 Malibu (I say we, but I mean my dad). We got on the road, and we called the local Haven dealership to come pick it up and check it out.

We got word yesterday that the battery died. I guess it’s not unheard of, but seriously? How many more unexpected expenses are going to pop up in my life now that I technically don’t have a paycheck coming in? Gosh.

And it begs the same question we faced when my car died Tuesday morning. Is this a sign that I’m going the wrong direction? Is it an indication that I’m making the wrong choice because all these things are happening? Does God put obstacles in our path because He wants us to stop what we’re doing and change directions?

Today’s verses are 2 Corinthians 12:6-10.

IMG_20150217_065918If I wanted to boast, I would be no fool in doing so, because I would be telling the truth. But I won’t do it, because I don’t want anyone to give me credit beyond what they can see in my life or hear in my message, even though I have received such wonderful revelations from God. So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud.

Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

This is Paul speaking. There has been a lot of discussion on exactly what his “thorn in the flesh” was, but I don’t think anyone has really come to an actual conclusion. All we really need to know is that God allowed this issue, this difficulty or obstacle, in Paul’s life so that Paul would rely on God’s strength instead of his own.

I haven’t arrived as a Christ follower. I’m still a work in progress, and I will be until I go home to be with Jesus. But I’ve picked up a few things in the years I’ve walked with Jesus, and one thing I know for sure is that if God sets you on a path going a certain direction, He isn’t going to change His mind about it. If you start following Him down a road, and a big boulder appears in your path, that doesn’t mean you stop moving forward. It means you ask Him to help you get around the boulder.

An obstacle is only an opportunity to grow stronger. Maybe you need to rely on God’s strength to move an obstacle out of your path. Maybe you need to learn patience to wait for God to move the obstacle for you. But that doesn’t mean you turn around.

In my experience, God doesn’t say no with obstacles. God says no with His Word. God’s Word is cut and dry about what is right and what is wrong and what God expects of us. Someone who throws obstacles in your path instead of talking to you is passive aggressive, and God isn’t passive aggressive.

If you’re following God and you find an obstacle in your path, first make sure your heart is right. If God is at the center of every decision you’ve made and if you’re truly seeking Him with your whole heart, don’t let that obstacle convince you to turn around.

Second, ask God what you’re supposed to do. Maybe you’re supposed to wait. Maybe you’re supposed to go around it. Maybe you’re supposed to take your mom’s car instead of yours. Whatever the situation is, God will show you what you’re supposed to do, whether it’s pressing onward or sitting still.

But whatever you do, don’t let the appearance of an obstacle in your path convince you to give up. God finishes what He starts. No, the path won’t be easy, but when you come out on the other side, you’ll be able to point to God and proclaim that He’s the one who got you through. It won’t be through your power. It won’t be because of your accomplishments. It will be because He is God and He is strongest when you are weakest.