Sunday, January 24, 2021

God Put You There for a Reason

It was the Tuesday after Memorial Day, and I wasn’t in a good mood.  Every day of the long weekend had been spent on the boat, enjoying the beautiful Michigan weather. Today was back to work, and I wasn’t able to get my usual early morning flight to Dallas.  As with most short weeks, it was a jam-packed day, so by the time five o’clock rolled around, I wanted to relax and unwind.  Instead, I ended up spending my evening in the air.

I arrived in Dallas at about ten o’clock and grabbed an Uber.  Usually, I get some work done on the ride, but for some reason unknown to me, tonight was different.  Instead of working, I engaged and talked with the driver.  After some small talk, she told me her night was supposed to end before picking me up, but because she was already at the airport and I was going to a hotel very close to her home, she decided to take one more job.  She said this rarely happens and that it was odd for her to be working this late.  I explained that I rarely travel on Tuesday evenings, so it was just as odd for me to be in this place at this time.  

During the ride, she explained that driving is a part-time job because she has a special needs child.  She then went on to share about how it’s been really tough lately and that it’s wearing on her and her husband, as they don’t see many signs of hope for their son’s improvement.  My friends Fred and Judy have a special needs son, Brent.  Fred has always told me that he believes God chose them as Brent’s parents as a way to strengthen their relationship with God and each other.  I happen to agree.  I truly believe that God carefully chooses only the best of the best to parent special-needs children.  I spent a few minutes sharing Fred’s story of hope and faith with my Uber driver.  I reassured her that God has a special plan for her life, her marriage, and her son.

For what seemed like minutes, there was nothing but crickets.  It wasn’t an awkward silence, as I could tell something was stirring inside her.  Finally, she responded with, “Wow, I guess I’ve been looking at the wrong way.  You’ll never know how much I needed to hear that. Thank you.”  More crickets.
Then she said, “As long as we’re at it, I have another problem, can you help me here too?”  We both chuckled, and the mood lightened. She then explained that her and her husband have rental property that the renters have completely destroyed, and they’re being told the house is now worthless.  We talked about it, and finally I asked, “Is the property local, and have you been checking on it along the way?” She said, “No, it’s on a small island up north that you’ve never heard of.”  I don’t know why, but I said, “Try me.”  She said, “Ok.  I’ll play.  It’s called Harsens Island.”  Now the crickets were on my side. I was legitimately freaked out.  

I said, “You’re not going to believe this, but I live five miles from Harsens Island, I can see it from my house, and I spent the entire weekend boating around Harsens.  Except for Saturday morning, when I was riding my bike on Harsens Island.  The crickets again took over, and it became eerily silent.  I’m not sure she believed me at first, and I couldn’t figure out how or why this was all happening.
We were both stunned, and we talked about the island, some common places, and I even shared that we ate at Sans Souci restaurant the night before.  She said, “Our rental property is just a few houses from Sans Souci. That’s my favorite restaurant in the world, and we were great friends with the owners when we lived there.”  I said, “Then you don’t have a problem, because even if the house is destroyed, I have to believe that any property on Harsens Island is worth a small fortune.”  She couldn’t believe it as they hadn’t been on Harsens Island in 25 years – this was a retirement property they’d bought way back when.   
By this time, we were pulling up to my hotel.  She stopped the car, looked back, and said, “I was about to go home, I had no intention of taking another job, and I have no idea why I did.  I also have no idea where you came from or why you’re in this car, but those two areas of my life have been spiraling out of control and causing nothing but trouble.  Now, I have a renewed sense of hope. I can’t wait to share all this with my husband – I’m sure he will feel the same way I do.”  

I told her that I too couldn’t explain how we ended up in this conversation.  Without God’s hand being in this, the odds of this happening were beyond the realm of possibility.  There were too many seemingly impossible coincidences for this to be a random coincidence.  God had put us both at that place and at that time for a reason.

As I went to get out of the car, I just looked at her and said, “The only explanation I can come up with is that God has a beautiful plan for your life, and you just needed some hope.  Maybe He wanted me to give you that hope.

As I got out of the car, I said, “I pray God blesses you and your family immensely.”  Tears were streaming down her face, as she struggled to get the words “thank you” out.  After checking into the hotel and getting to my room, I looked out the window and happened to look down.  The car hadn’t moved, and I could see she was still sitting there, likely processing what had just happened.

God knew what He was doing that day.  He knew what He was doing when I didn’t get my usual flight and ended up on a very rare Tuesday evening flight, He knew what He was doing when he had her take one more job. 

The next time you’re unhappy with your circumstances, remember that God may not be putting you where you want to be but rather where He needs you to be.

Welcome to the new you.  Enjoy the journey... 
Check out In Our Weakness We Are Strong on Amazon at
Learn more about Dave VanEpps or request a speaking engagement at


Monday, January 18, 2021

One Team

When I began participating in the sport of triathlon, I didn’t think I’d need a team.  After all, one person swims, bikes, and runs the course alone, so how could it possibly be a team sport?  God showed me otherwise.

While training for Ironman Louisville, I was part of a triathlon team, and we were all very dependent on each other. This team provided many of the benefits of any sports team.  We encouraged each other, motivated each other, held each other accountable to show up and do our best, and we collectively improved together.  The team also provided many of the benefits of any community.  We picked each other up, listened to each other, and supported one another through life’s challenges. 

God’s Design for Teamwork

God’s design for life is all about teamwork. This community-oriented structure has existed since the beginning of time, with the Trinity of God including God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit.  

This design for community is also reflected at the origin of human history.  Genesis 2:18 says, “The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make a helper suitable for him.’”  Later, in verse 22, God created woman.

The Bible uses the body of Christ as a metaphor for teamwork.  1 Corinthians 12:12-14 says, “Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.”  Here the Apostle Paul talks about the body being one, much like a team.  He also acknowledges that the many parts form a single body, similar to how many players form a single team.

God wants us to collectively be the body of Christ.  Everyone is needed, and everyone plays an equally important and vital role in the success of the church.  Because of our individual uniqueness, we work together and complement each other.  When we all work together as God’s church, our team can become a very powerful force for Him.

Life’s a Team Sport

God’s design for teamwork applies to life as well as sports.  Shortly after training for Louisville began, I was pushing my limits in the pool and trying to sustain a pace much faster than that which I could maintain.  My swim came to a screeching halt, as I realized that something was wrong with my shoulder.

After a few weeks of rest and ice, my shoulder wasn’t getting any better.  I reluctantly went to the doctor, and the MRI confirmed I had a 50% tear in my rotator cuff.  This was another one of those breaking points we all encounter in life.  It was definitely a moment that could have ruined my season.  

Much like the other breaking points I’d hit over the years, this was an opportunity for God to teach me something and to turn this weakness into a strength.  That strength came in the form of my team.  

In the next few weeks, I worked closely with my expanded team, which now also consisted of an orthopedic surgeon and physical therapist.  I continued working with our coaches to develop a stronger kick, and one coach even showed me how to swim with one arm.  Of course, I leaned heavily on my teammates, and they kept my spirits up while I was struggling to recover and preparing to pull off the race.

Come race day, I was prepared both physically and mentally.  I was able to complete the swim and have a very successful, enjoyable race.  More importantly, my team was in it together, as we all celebrated along the course and at the finish line.

God’s Call to Action

  • Live in community.  Have a group of 2 a.m. friends who would be there for you in the middle of the night if you needed help.  Build those relationships and be a 2 a.m. friend for them as well.  Most Bible-based churches offer opportunities to participate in small groups, which are typically groups who periodically get together for Bible studies, topical studies, or just to connect.  Often, these groups become those 2 a.m. friends, so if you don’t yet have a tight group of close friends, especially those who can help you grow spiritually, consider a small group.
  • Be the church.  Remember that the early church was not a physical building.  It was a group of believers who moved out in their communities to share the love of Jesus Christ.  Find those opportunities on your team, in your school, in your workplace, in your neighborhood.  Wherever you go, you are the church.
  • Stay connected.  Whether you participate in team sports or individual sports, keep in mind that you are part of a team.  No man is an island, so no matter what you do, you do it with others.  Even when you can’t physically be near others, find ways to connect. With modern day technology, we’re all finding new ways to stay connected despite not always being in close physical proximity.  

Life’s a team sport.  Play it that way!

Welcome to the new you.  Enjoy the journey... 

Check out In Our Weakness We Are Strong on Amazon at
Learn more about Dave VanEpps or request a speaking engagement at

In the Zone

Only 19 miles to go to the finish line. I just need to focus, one step at a time, pace, form, hydration, nutrition… hey there’s a bird!  Bac...