Have you ever watched The Price is Right? There is a particular game on that show called Plinko. Contestants drop giant chips down a slanted board covered in wooden spikes. At its bottom are nine slots, each labeled with a different cash prize amount, ranging in value. The goal is to get one of your chips to land in the $10,000 slot in the middle. But as a chip slides down the board, it will hit many of the spikes as it falls, causing it to move erratically downward. Therefore, though a contestant will start out aiming his or her chip for the middle slot, the chip often veers way off course in its travels. It might land in the big money slot, or it might land in the end slot, earning the player a whole dollar. The point for us is that even when we aim straight for the big prize, our journeys to it seldom go as we plan.
Think about how God often works in our lives. He tells us to aim for the big prize (his will for our lives), but along the way, he takes us on detours.
As a young man, I felt that God was calling me to become a full-time evangelist. I was living in Baltimore, and it would have been easy to conclude that God wanted me to evangelize from there. But God took me on many detours, including my time attending school in Atlanta and then attending seminary in Dallas. Years went by before I eventually became a pastor, and not an evangelist after all. But in pastoring, I was able to help start a national ministry through which we began broadcasting the teaching of God’s Word all across America and around the world. And I take advantage of this platform to present the gospel regularly.
Indeed, then, God made me an evangelist—but not according to the path I had expected. If I had chosen to look at all those detours as departures or setbacks, the church where I pastor and the national ministry from which I broadcast might never have existed. I would have missed out on my own destiny.
It was the same for Joseph. If he had taken his eyes off of the prize, his story might have turned out quite differently, too. His brothers sold him into slavery. He was falsely accused of sleeping with Potiphar’s wife and unjustly imprisoned. But every step of the way, Joseph kept looking to bring God into otherwise bad situations. Eventually, the Lord used the evil that had been done to him to elevate him to one of the highest positions in the land. And when the chance came to seek retribution against his brothers, Joseph told them, “You planned evil against me; God planned it for good to bring about the present result—the survival of many people” (Gen 50:20).
Don’t miss that. The very actions Joseph’s brothers meant for evil God meant for good. Put another way, when evil is present, and God is brought into the situation, good will always come out of it. It’s like playing a game of Plinko in which a positive outcome is certain. No matter what happens along the way, if we include God in it, the end result will always be rewarding beyond measure.
Seek God in every aspect of your life. And know that as he leads you toward his perfect will, he will probably take you in a direction that seems off course as he zigzags you toward your destiny. When that happens, don’t be discouraged. Keep your eyes on the prize.
Receive weekly encouragement from pastor John Ortberg's devotional, 'Care Instructions for a Life Worth Living.'
Reprinted from The Tony Evans Study Bible (2019) with permission of Holman Bibles. Tony Evans—author of numerous books—has faithfully proclaimed the gospel for more than 50 years. He serves as senior pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, Texas, and is founder of The Urban Alternative.
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