Stop Reading Into Things

Every morning I check the app, Timehop. It’s a fun little jaunt down memory lane. Last Tuesday I was reminded about my first day of planting Next Level Church.

It was 6 years ago, but I remember it like it was yesterday.

For the first time in years I had to get my own personal cell phone. I was used to my job paying for one and as a church planter I didn’t have the luxury. I went to BestBuy and then was headed home. I was minding my own business at a stop light when out of no where…BAM!!!

My car was rear ended.

The actual accident wasn’t all that dramatic. It was loud, but there wasn’t really any damage. The license plate left an imprint on my dirty bumper, but besides that there was no damage. The inside of the car was a different story.

Because I didn’t have an office building my entire office was packed in the back seat of my Honda Civic. When I got hit my entire office went flying around my car like the lyric to a Scorpion song.

For a brief moment I started to feel sorry for myself.

Planting a church is difficult as it is. Was this God giving me some cosmic sign? Was I destined to fail as a church planter? Did I make a mistake?

Unless God speaks audibly it’s next to impossible to interpret the purpose of what we are going through. The common thought is that if I’m good then good things should happen. If I’m off the mark then it’s like a song lyric from Culture Club.

That’s two 80’s band references for those who are keeping count.

I don’t think God is passive aggressive. I don’t think when God needs to send us a message it’s impossible to decipher.

That’s why I don’t look to my circumstances to tell me about God. My circumstances can be deceptive.

All throughout Scripture we see Godly people go through difficult circumstances. The Apostle Paul survives an awful shipwreck only to have a snake jump out and bite him while he was building a fire. The snake is literally hanging on his hand and people decide to pass judgment instead of help. Look at how the people interpreted his circumstances…

The people of the island saw it hanging from his hand and said to each other, “A murderer, no doubt! Though he escaped the sea, justice will not permit him to live.” But Paul shook off the snake into the fire and was unharmed. The people waited for him to swell up or suddenly drop dead. But when they had waited a long time and saw that he wasn’t harmed, they changed their minds and decided he was a god. Acts 28:4-6

The problem with analyzing circumstances out of our control is our conclusion is most definitely wrong. Our trained weather people have a hard time predicting the weather based off patterns they can see. How in the world are we supposed to predict the reason behind circumstances we cannot see?

The people who saw this happen to Paul first declared he was cursed. When he didn’t die they decided he was a god. Both accounts were dead wrong.

Instead of trying to decipher what our uncontrolled circumstances are telling us, let’s hold onto what Scripture tells us about God. God is good and God is love. In the midst of difficult situations we must hold to His love and His goodness. His love will help pull us out of difficult circumstances. His goodness will remind us to be grateful in difficult situations.

I’m never thankful for difficult circumstances, but to keep my sanity I will remain thankful in all circumstances.

Looking back on the Timhop memory I’m thankful I didn’t let my circumstance dictate my decision like the lyric to a Queen song.

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Rob Shepherd

I am the full-time husband of a wonderful woman! I love being married! We are proud parents to twins, Hayden and Reese. In my spare time I am the pastor of Next Level Church. I have a relationship with God and it is an adventure. Oh and I wrote a book. It's called Even If You Were Perfect Someone Would Crucify You.


  1. Connie
    February 12, 2018

    Great blog. I am also glad you didn’t allow your circumstance affect your decision. I would not have met you and your amazing family without NLC. Nor would I have experienced true authenticity. Not to mention those chocolate chip cookies. Lol

    • February 12, 2018

      Haha! We miss you Connie. Thanks for the comment.

      • Connie
        February 13, 2018

        We miss you too.

  2. Lidia DiLuccia
    February 12, 2018

    This is what I needed today. I have a few things I’m going through that this relates to for me. I need to be thankful in every situation and keep praying through them and keep my faith strong. And thank YOU for not giving up because I am so thankful for Next Level Church and really enjoy the messages and series.

  3. Mary W
    February 13, 2018

    Great blog, Rob. “I’m never thankful FOR difficult circumstances, but remain thankful in all circumstances,” is key, I believe. And those were great music references too.


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