Do you take a huge gasp of air when you see a detour sign? I do! I hate taking a road I don't know because I fear not getting to my destination, winding up on some narrow lane, or missing the next sign.
Right now, we have several diversions, as they call them in Britain, because they are working on the roads. These types of detours help us avoid hazards and keep us safe. But no matter the reason, I still experience frustration, fear, and impatience when faced with the prospect of changing my intended direction.
Sometimes our spiritual lives are thwarted with detours as well. I like to view them as providential redirection toward God's goal - His purpose for my life. And I also see them as providential protection from a Good Father who is keeping me safe. Sometimes, that helps me not get so frustrated and fearful!
But even with this better perspective, I still get a knee-jerk reaction to a detour because I have to surrender control. Things seem out of order, and I feel forced to make the decision to walk by faith.
Folks in the Bible experienced detours, too. Probably the most extended detour in recorded history is the Israelites' trek across the wilderness. A journey of eleven days turned into a 40-year detour and resulted in the death of a whole generation.
Jonah created his detour and wound up in the belly of a whale. Once he got back on track, he was angry, resentful, and had a complete disregard for others.
Michal, Saul's daughter, had a couple of detours. She did not handle it well and for all eternity is recorded as a spiteful and angry wife.
However, others yielded to their detours. Joseph made the best of his. Nehemiah faced much opposition but completed his detour with dignity. David encountered many, but he knew the value of waiting on God's timing. Esther's challenging detour positioned her for the salvation of her nation.
Evelyn Christenson, in her book Gaining Through Losing, lists the following gains and losses. Detours come -
So we might gain the purposes of God
So we might gain the strength of God.
So we might gain the sovereignty of God.
So we might gain the comfort of God.
So we might gain hope in God.
So we might gain trust in God.
So we might lose our rights.
So we might lose our pride.
So we might lose our attachment to possessions.
So we might lose our apathy.
So we might lose our fears.
God-directed detours always have a purpose. Chris Tiegreen wrote, "God's hand is in even the most difficult circumstances, letting affliction have its deepest results. This is His chosen path for us, not a diversion from it. He is always the Lord of our situation."
Here's the thing about detours, they do not last forever. Oh, they might land us at a different destination, but it will be a destination of God's choosing. Through God-given detours, we see our sufferings used to magnify our Saviour, help us grow in Christ, be more sanctified, and purified, etc.
And we can always be assured that God will bring us through the detour. He will not leave us lost beside the road. Just as He brought Joseph, Moses, and Paul through, He will bring us through!
So, what should be our attitude when we see a detour sign? Let's remember to submit, not only to the law of the road but more importantly, to the Lordship of our Saviour.
And let's be thankful. That sign isn't randomly placed to annoy us, it is for our protection and has a purpose. Thankfully, in wisdom and for our benefit and protection, the Lord directs our steps. He is the Lord of detours.