Recently, I got my youngest son interested in and watching reruns of Quantum Leap. Quantum Leap is a television show that was popular in the late 80s and 90s. The show is about a scientist, Sam Beckett, who travels through time and assumes the identity of characters to correct “something that has gone wrong in time.” He is assisted via a hologram of his friend from the future named Al. The show began with not understanding why the hero, Sam, jumps from one person to another in history. Later, we discovered that the reason for the jumps to the certain person was God’s work. Each episode, Sam and Al have to figure out what they are supposed to do in order to correct a past wrong and then leap to the next mission or home. (One could interpret these actions as figuring out what is God’s will.)
Ansen and I watched one episode that really spoke to me. It is titled “M.I.A.” The premise of the story is that Sam has leapt back to San Diego 1969. He leapt into a police officer living in San Deigo when he came across Al’s future ex-wife. Al, a naval officer in 1969, was MIA because of the Vietnam War. His future ex-wife was about to meet her new husband that she will marry after she had Al declared dead to end the marriage. Al, like many Vietnam MIA’s, had come back home to find his reason for living had left him while he was imprisoned.
During the course of the show, Al pushes Sam to keep his wife at the time away from the guy she will remarry. Al pushes Sam into thinking that his purpose for this mission was to help Al by letting his future ex-wife know that he was still alive. Sam began to feel differently, and ultimately determined what the real mission was and completed a completely different task by saving a life. The show ended with Sam outside Al’s old home wondering why he had not left yet. We see the end of the episode coming as Al’s future ex-wife is dancing by Al’s hologram to their song, “Georgia on my Mind.”
This show reminded me how oftentimes we interweave our wants and our purposes within God’s mission. Like Al, we feel that one option (although having good and Godly intentions attached to it) is where God is leading us. We become single minded and unwilling to see God’s indicators that it is not what He wants. We see what we want, not what God wants. We ignore the everyday signs that God puts in our way, believing that they are obstacles to overcome. Whereas, these obstacles may be God’s way of telling us NO.
I know in my spiritual journey, I have thought I was walking the path God has laid out for me. I have made decisions and been a part of groups that I thought would further God’s mission. I pushed forward with plans and pushed past warning signs that I thought of as obstacles to be overcome, not heeded as signs. Luckily, I have had people in my life to help me realize what I was doing and to change my perspective about the direction I was going. I pray that these course corrections align myself with God’s purpose and mission for me.
I have witnessed and lived through churches who ignored the signs God put in front of the congregation and the leaders of the church. The course corrections were painful and, in some cases, led me to leave that congregation for another. God’s mission for me and the church were on two different paths. That course correction was painful.
The Bible has several stories of mistaking what God wants vs. personal bias. Jonah, the Apostle Paul’s start in ministry, and the disciples drawing lots to pick replacement disciples are but a few stories that immediately come to mind. Many of these stories have a course correction that oftentimes come with a painful realization.
The good news is that God forgives us when we do this and helps us get back to His mission. It amazes me how problems that were being encountered while serving ourselves go away when we adopt God’s plan first. Although initially, the corrections hurt, God does provide healing and wisdom from these experiences in life and mission.
Prayer is another way of finding out God’s mission. Listening is just as important. God’s voice can be as loud as a thunderstorm or quiete as a light breeze. I am praying that our leadership within this church receives God’s guidance as they determine God’s mission and how we complete this mission for our church. Please join me in those prayers, I know I felt the support when I was an elder.
By the way, Sam was able to leap back to talk to Al’s future ex-wife after several more missions. This action led to Al not being divorced and living his best life. (Another example of God telling us not now, but later.)