My husband and I spend a lot of time driving on the highway. Part of that comes from our love of traveling around the United States to see some of the many beautiful areas our country has to offer. Another part comes from a desire to stay in touch with our children and grandchildren who live hundreds of miles away in two different directions from where we live.
Fortunately, we are both pretty good travelers and enjoy the talk time we get as well as listening to our movie theme playlist and checking out the scenery. We split the driving and know our favorite stops on all our usual trips.
What can get in the way from time to time are construction zones and detours. Ugh! Neither of us enjoys being delayed to get to our ultimate destination, but clearly it is not always possible to avoid them even with a good map or GPS system.
Detours and delays seem to go hand-in-hand with traveling no matter what mode of transportation we choose. They can be a frustrating aggravation for most of us, but we are generally aware there is little we can do about it.
What about other detours, detours that pull us off the path to our goals, our dreams, or our plans?
Life seems to come with plenty of detours.
We didn’t plan to have our first child while my husband was half a world away in a war zone, but that detour happened early in our marriage. Despite all the negative things about that for both of us, God also blessed us as we focused on this new life and all the exciting things we experienced as we watched him developing. That shift in focus helped us cope with the myriad of emotions and fearful thoughts of life in a war zone with all the uncertainties it brought.
My husband’s job seemed very secure. He had worked for this company full-time for nine years in a variety of different positions following his active duty military service. He had also worked there part-time while he was in college. We felt like we were moving in a good and steady direction until quite unexpectedly one day my husband learned he was laid off along with a number of other people in various management positions in his company. It was a detour we had not expected. It would be some months later until a new job came into view as a result of a “chance” connection at a Bible study.
Job loss, illness, accidents, and family issues are detours many of us experience in our lifetime. They sting and leave us feeling off balance, a bit unsure of ourselves, a bit unsteady in our faith and trust, and more than a bit disappointed that the path ahead has been altered.
We tend to think of a detour as something that requires us to go a different route to get to where we planned to go, but a dictionary definition gives a broader perspective.
Detour: “a long or roundabout route taken to avoid something or to visit somewhere along the way”.
The definition reminds me that sometimes on a trip we actually may choose to detour from the route to see some attraction we would miss by staying on the main road.
When we face a detour in life, is it possible the Lord has allowed for it because there is something He wants us to see or learn that can only happen on the alternate path?
Is it possible there is something ahead on the path we were traveling that the Lord wants us to avoid?
Both questions give me a reframe for detours. They remind me that the Lord knows what is best for me and is always working for my good even in hard, difficult, painful times.
He wants us to trust Him when we need to travel an alternate route. He is still with us and for us.
Our challenge is that we don’t know where the alternate route is taking us, whether we will end up where we had hoped to be or not. We also don’t know how long the alternate route really is or the condition of the road ahead.
Israel’s son, Joseph, had a great life at home. His father adored him and the Lord had given Him some amazing dreams that seemed full of promise. He didn’t see the impact on his brothers of all that so landing in a pit, being sold into slavery in Egypt, and losing everything he had going for him seemed like the worst possible detour on his road to success.
When Joseph was sold to Potiphar, he again earned favor with his master and soon had been given charge of his entire household. Everything seemed to be looking up until Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce him and then accused him of assault when he fled. This time the detour took him to prison and obscurity.
Joseph experienced multiple detours on his path to becoming Pharaoh’s right hand man and the one God would use to save His people.
Was there purpose in the detours? It would seem so. The young man in the many-colored coat, favorite of his father, often spoke without thinking of others and bragged about his dreams.
The detours were used by God to transform Joseph’s character, deepen His dependence on Him, and cause Him to appreciate and be grateful for all His blessings whether small or great. The detours in Joseph’s life taught him to love and brought him to his destiny. What his brothers had meant for evil, God meant for good.
Sometimes detours occur because we are human and living in an imperfect world where disease happens, accidents happen, and nothing is certain. Sometimes the enemy of our soul tries to hijack us so we lose hope, but I wonder if it is also true that sometimes the detour is arranged by the Lord so our good can become our best.
Detours are not necessarily a setup created by the Lord, but I am persuaded that He uses them. He uses them to grow us up into Him, to be more like Him, and allow His light and love to shine more brightly through us.
That lets me rest in His arms, content to know He is in charge even in detours.