Bestselling author and renowned preacher Tony Evans concludes his series of books about God’s direction over our lives. In U-Turns, Dr. Evans shows readers the reality of human freedom, the consequences that come from negative choices, and the way to reverse those consequences.
By aligning your life choices under God’s Word and pursuing an intimate relationship with Him, you can experience the abundant life Jesus has for you. You get to choose whether or not you want that. If you do, you will see how God can reverse the negative consequences of decisions you’ve made.
U-Turns sample chapterdownload
an excerpt from U-Turns
When God created humanity, He gave us a will with a capacity to choose. We all have the freedom to make our own choices. Within God’s sovereign boundaries, He has established a field of play that allows for our decisions. Like a football field that has lines that do not move, teams are allowed to call their own plays within the sovereign lines and boundaries. The plays they call, along with their skillful execution of those plays, by and large determine the outcome of their game.
In creation, God sits sovereignly over our field of play. He has established certain lines that are nonnegotiable. He is King. He sets the boundaries in His realm. Yet within those lines, He has also chosen to give us freedom. He has given us choice. He has created us with the uniquely human characteristic known as free will.
For example, He told Adam and Eve in the garden, “You are free to eat from any tree of the garden, but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for on the day you eat from it, you will certainly die” (Gen. 2:16–17). Bottom line: God told Adam and Eve that they could choose. He gave them options. He even told them about the consequence if they chose poorly. But then He removed His hands of control on their conscience and allowed them to make the decision. In giving humanity choice, evil became an option. God never forced evil into the human equation; rather, He allowed it.
However, humanity actualizes it when we choose anything that goes against the sovereign and preferred will of God’s rule. You and I have been given freedom. And while that truth delights us, what many often forget is that with freedom comes responsibility. Yes, we have the freedom to choose for God or to choose against God. Yet while we have full ability to make our own choices in this life we’ve been given, we do not get to choose the consequences. Those have been predetermined by God. Just as God told Adam and Eve that if they chose to eat from the forbidden tree, they would “certainly die,” God has consequences established within His rules that will play out if or when we choose against Him.
The freedom to choose is not the freedom to determine the outcomes of those choices. That is a very critical point to understand, because oftentimes when we find ourselves searching for a
U-turn or hoping for a reversal or calling on God to deliver us, we forget that it was our own choices that got us lost to begin with. And when we forget that, we also forget to come before the Lord in a spirit of humility rather than entitlement. Yes, He is a good God. No, He is not obligated to make everything good in your life. Romans 8:28 says that God will work all things together for good to those who love Him and are called to His purposes. It doesn’t say that all things will be, or will feel, good as they happen. You may have picked up this book because you are tired of harvesting bitter and failed crops from wrong choices. You may have grabbed this book because you wanted a solution to your life’s struggles. And if that’s you, then this is the right book. That is my aim in ministering to you through these paragraphs, pages, and points. But what I won’t do is give you a solution softened from the blows of God’s truth. I won’t do that because that is no solution at all. Your U-turn takes place precisely at the signposts of His truth, and nowhere else.
What prompted you to write this book?
U-Turns is the third in a series of books that I have written. In Detours, we see how God goes around the block to get us where he wants us to be. Then, in Pathways, we see the trek that God took Esther on in his providence to save a people. So this is the third book in that trilogy. U-Turns shows people who are facing negative circumstances and consequences for past sins how God can take messes and turn them into miracles. God can hit a bull’s eye with a crooked stick, and he can reverse things that have negatively impacted us and still use it for our good and his glory.
Where did the title, "U-Turns," come from?
People do a U-turn when they discover they’re going in the wrong direction and need to go the other way. They have to turn around and reverse their direction. A need for reversal is where the concept of U-turn came from.
How do you hope this book will speak into people's lives given what's been going on the past six months to a year?
We’re facing multiple pandemics—medical, relational, racial, social, judicial, political—one on top of another, and I believe that God has allowed this to get our attention, particularly the attention of the church. He’s calling the church to a reversal. He’s calling the culture to one, but that has to be led by the church because God won’t skip the church house to fix the White House. So, if we as God’s people can do a U-turn, then maybe we can will the culture, likewise, to turn to where it’s supposed to be.
How has this topic resonated in your own life, and do you have any pivotal moments as an example where you had to make a U-turn?
Yes, I’ve gone through a great series of losses in my own life with the loss of my father, my mother, my brother, my sister, my sister’s husband, two nieces, my daughter’s mother-in-law—all of that has happened in a very brief period of time. And so, it has forced me to refocus on life’s priorities. In our ministry, we are looking at how to prioritize God’s work in light of COVID-19. So, I’m rethinking many things lately because of cultural and personal circumstances.
This book focuses on the life of Moses to teach through U-turns. How do you hope people learn about U-turns through studying the story of Moses?
Moses is a great person to study because he spends the first 40 years of his life living large. He makes a mistake, a miscalculation, and he spends the next 40 years of his life shepherding sheep. So he gets demoted due to a decision that he made. But through an encounter with a burning bush, God reuses him again to set his people free.
So even though you’ve made bad decisions that have led to extended bad consequences, God still can show you a burning bush and still make use of your life. So, Moses’ story gives hope in the midst of crisis, failure and discontentment.
Who did you have in mind when you wrote this book? And can anyone at any point in their life make a U-turn?
Absolutely. I had in mind anybody who is experiencing negative repercussions from past decisions—and there’s hardly anybody alive who can’t identify with that to some degree. So, this book is for anyone, who, when you look back through the rear-view mirror, you wish you could have a do-over. You can’t have a do-over, but what you can do is see God meet you where you are and still make up the years the locusts ate (Joel 2:25).
You also preached a sermon series a couple of years ago on U-turns. What kind of response did you hear from that sermon series and the big things that people got out of that?
A lot of people were just so grateful that they found themselves in one of the topics. They found themselves in situations they regretted, and this let them know that if they’re still here and they’re still willing to follow God, there’s still hope for productivity, usefulness, forgiveness and reconciliation. Their past doesn’t have to determine their future.
You can go a long way with hope. Hope is a joyful expectation about the future. So they got a lot of hope out of that sermon series, which the book is based upon. I got hope while I was preaching it, and they got hope while they were hearing it.
What do you hope that readers take away from the book and do you hope for any action steps that they will take after reading it?
I hope that tears get dried up, regrets get refocused and failures get recalibrated. I hope that now they can see if they choose differently from now on, not only can they have a better tomorrow, but God also has a big enough eraser to stop the past from the way it controls, haunts and defines them. Far too many people have been defined by yesterday when God wants to take them to tomorrow.
In the chapters, you go through specifics of reversing the consequences of addiction, anxiety, emotional consequences, etc. Are there any particular topics in these chapters that you think will really speak into what people are dealing with today?
Anxiety. There’s a lot of anxiety. People are worried. They’re worried about their income; they’re worried about the division. They’re worried about their families, their children in school and the direction of the nation. So we’re being inundated with things to worry about. So, to be able to face these issues but not have to live in anxiety about them is significant.
Is there anything else you'd like people to know about the book?
If you are looking for hope, you know someone who is or if you want your tomorrow to be better than your yesterday, your future to be better than your past or where you’re going to be better than where you came from, then this book will help you get there through whatever category that’s affecting you right now.