:: Unplanned and Unexpected Detours :: Here’s my latest video-devotional for the staff of LifeChange Action:
During our recent drive to Florida, we were coasting smoothly along on a nice, clear, open expressway through Jacksonville…. when suddenly I found myself winding down a ramp onto a surface street and into the middle of a rough-looking neighborhood.
I turned to my bewildered wife and exclaimed, “How did we get here?!”
To which she replied, of course, “I have no idea, honey…where on earth did you go?”
That’s when I noticed the annoyingly orange DETOUR sign. I think they make those signs extra ugly so we can’t miss them. However, I apparently didn’t notice all the preceding detour warning signs…
Has God run you through a detour lately? Have you found yourself in a forced detour of life? Maybe you’re there right now?
You had a plan. Yes! A course-of-direction. Check! But now your head is spinning with the question: “How did I end up here?!”
Oftentimes we have a nicely crafted schedule, a business plan, a ministry idea, or a set of goals, and we think it’s all going to work out just as we ordered it. But then God nudges us into a detour – a different plan – in order to produce in us what we could never see or achieve on our own.
The Bible is full of stories about people who had piles of plans, but then God sent them on a detour – yet always with His purpose. For example, the apostle Paul had a driving desire to go to Rome in order to testify of the Gospel before Caesar. In Acts 27:1-3 we find him finally, after much anticipation, setting sail for that grand city of old.
But suddenly the plan starts unraveling. Storm after storm redirects their voyage multiple times (Acts 27:4-13). Finally the ship is smashed aground on a reef just off the coast of a small island named Malta (Acts 27:14-44). DETOUR!
Yet what seems like a disaster is God’s plan of grace. God works through Paul to bring the good news of Jesus to the sailors, as well as all the people of Malta. Check out what Doctor Luke wrote:
“And it happened that the father of Publius [“the leading man of the island”] was lying in bed afflicted with recurrent fever and dysentery; and Paul went in to see him and after he had prayed, he laid his hands on him and healed him. After this had happened, the rest of the people on the island who had diseases were coming to him and getting cured.” (Acts 28:8-9)
And he stayed in Malta for a nice 3 days….
NO. He stayed there 3 months! (Acts 28:11)
Looking back through the annals of history, we discover that Publius became the first bishop over the church of Malta and later was martyred for his faith in Christ. Today, Malta is known to have one of the highest percentages of Christians anywhere in the world (98-99%). Shipwrecks… even detours are part of God’s work of grace through our lives.
As I heard a pastor once say, “waiting time is not wasted time” on God’s timetable. God’s delays are not God’s denials. As the great missionary to orphans, George Mueller, commented, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord… and so are the stops.” (from Psalm 37:23)
We’re often prone to resist the detour, get angry about it, or frustrated by it (at least that’s the case for me).
We yell out: “why are you doing this right now?! Don’t you understand my plan, God? My directions were better than this… I thought you would adopt my plan, God.”
But all the while God is smiling and saying, “Oh I have a plan in mind and the plan is to conform you to the image of my Son, Jesus Christ.”
So let’s take these steps today — even if there is an ugly orange sign ahead:
- Embrace the Detour (don’t resist it)
- Accept the Process (learn with each step)
- Enjoy the Journey (laugh a little… God is up to something good)
God is doing a good work in you… to produce in you what you could never achieve on your own.
In Christ Alone,