Why Three Forks?

O Lord, You have searched me and you know me.  You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.  You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.  Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord.

You hem me in – behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me.  Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.

Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?  If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.  If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.  Psalm 139:1-10

The town of Three Forks, Montana is historically considered the birthplace or start of the Missouri River.  It is located near the point where the Jefferson, Madison and Gallatin rivers converge to form the single longest river in North America.  It was here that Sacagawea was captured by the Mennetaree tribe only to return later as an interpreter and guide to Lewis & Clark.  It was here that our journey to California took an unexpected turn.

It was just outside of this little town that one of the tires on our rental truck burst sending large pieces of shredded rubber and debris flying towards the other two vehicles in our caravan.  And even though I was following a good distance behind the truck, it sounded like a cannon going off.  Now if that doesn’t get your attention, nothing will!

Looking back, I had to wonder.  Why Three Forks?  That tire could have given out at any point along our way, so why Three Forks, Montana?  When you understand the sovereignty of God, you find yourself asking questions like this quite often.  At the time I thought it had to do with the river.  After all, it was the Missouri River that almost took my life as a child.  Maybe being at the birthplace of that river was a symbol of my own rebirth after He pulled me from those dark waters?  Maybe it signified the new life we were starting in California?  Maybe it was just to give me a good chuckle a few years later when my research revealed to me that the school’s mascot was the Wolves.  God does have a terrific sense of humor!

I’d like to tell you that I have figured it all out, but I haven’t.  There is one piece of this puzzle that just recently fell into place.  It has to do with Sacagawea.  It was from that town that she was led away a captive.  And it was to that town she returned as an interpreter and guide.  Much like Sacagawea, the first time I left Three Forks it was to enter a season of tremendous struggle.  My time in California brought me nearer to death and despair than any other season in my life.  I felt as if I was being systematically taken down one piece at a time until there was nothing left.  God brought me to the end of myself during that season.  And it is only now that I have returned to the Midwest that I can see that my time in captivity prepared me for God’s purpose for me now.  I have never been more dependent on Him.  My faith was tested and approved.  I have never been more passionate about glorifying Him and sharing His word.

Yes, Sacagawea and I both left as captives.  She to the Mennetaree tribe, and me to my own deceptive heart.  It was such a painful experience for me that it took over three years for me to be able to finally embrace the truth and realize that I had been following my own ideas of God’s plans for us instead of following Him.  But just as Sacagawea returned as a victorious interpreter and guide, God brought me back from the brink of my own self destruction in order to use me to show others the way through difficult seasons brought on by our own failures.  How about you?  Are you caught in the wilderness of your own sin and failures like I was?  Do you trust God’s sovereignty to look to Him for your way back?  You don’t have to know all the answers right now.  But you can at least start looking for His answers.

Father, thank You for allowing me the freedom to choose my own way.  It was only through this difficult process that I was able to truly understand the depth of Your unconditional love.  You also revealed to me the tremendous amount of work You have already accomplished within my heart.  You proved to me the power of Your amazing love and mercy.  And You showed me that even the most difficult struggles I face, the ones brought on by my own weakness and sin, are not powerful enough to ever separate me from Your love.  And You showed me how easily I can be deceived when I choose to believe what I want to hear over the truth found in Your word.  Thank You Pappa for never giving up on me!  I love You, Amen.

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.  But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.  2 Timothy 4:3-5


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