In Michigan, we jokingly say, there are two seasons – winter and road construction! And with road construction come detours and lots of them. Can I just say . . . I hate detours! They’re inconvenient, unplanned and usually make me late! (Mainly, that’s because of poor planning on my part but it’s great to have something else to blame.)
I don’t like detours in my life anymore than I like them on the roadways. Detours have a way of making me feel like my life is spinning out of control. Have you ever seen a Nascar race where one or more cars slam into the side wall and begin spiraling out of control? You get the feeling everyone is holding their breath until the car finally stops. I do the same thing with my own detours. I often find myself holding my breath, hoping the damage will be minimal and everything will stop spinning soon. Detours have a way of reminding me that I’m not in control.
In my reading of the book of Acts, I was struck by Paul’s reactions to detours in his life (and he had a lot of them).
Paul was on the road to Damascus to persecute Christians when he faced his first detour and met Jesus. Paul had his plans but God had other plans. Paul readily accepted the journey change and his life was never the same again. He embraced wholeheartedly the path that God had for him.
From then on we see a Paul that holds his own agenda lightly and willingly accepts each detour that is sent his way.
He was thrown in jail and forgotten for two years but that didn’t hinder him from preaching the gospel to every person that God brought across his path. He was shipwrecked and instead of twiddling his thumbs and waiting around for God to get him off the Island, he shared the Good News with those who lived there. At one point, the Holy Spirit stepped in to tell him to go to a different place than what he had planned. It’s as if, each detour in Paul’s life was a “billboard” from God clearly showing him where he should go and what he should do.
I’ve often wished that God would be so clear and direct with me. There have been many times where I’ve exclaimed, “God would you just make it clear what you want me to do and I’ll do it! Could you send me a postcard or write on a billboard so that I’ll know?” But taking a fresh look at Paul’s life has made me understand that just as detours were God’s “billboard” in Paul’s life, so they are in mine. If only, I would see the detours as clear direction from God about where He wants me to be and what He wants me to do, think how much more productive and effective my life would be! Instead of wishing my detours away, I want to embrace them and live the life God intended me to live.
Let me ask you, what if your detours are God’s way of telling you that you’ve controlled things long enough and now it’s time to pry your hands off the wheel? What if they are His “billboard” to you? Are you resisting His direction in your life and wasting precious time wanting things done your way or are you accepting His plan and following wherever that might take you?
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT)
Let go, jump in, embrace the detours and hold on tight – you’re in for a spectacular ride!