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When was the last time you were traveling and encountered a detour sign? What was your response?

Whether we are going on vacation, visiting family or friends, commuting to work, or coming home again, detour signs typically evoke feelings of frustration, impatience, and sometimes even fear. Our perfectly planned route has taken an unexpected turn and we now find ourselves in unfamiliar territory.

We are not the only ones to experience detours. God took the Israelites on one as He led them out of Egypt. Exodus 13:7 says, “When Pharoah finally let the people go, God did not lead them along the main road that runs through Philistine territory, even though that was the shortest route to the Promised Land.”

As one who values efficiency (especially when traveling), I find myself asking, “Why wouldn’t God use the shortest route?” Scripture goes on to answer that question:

“God said, ‘If the people are faced with a battle, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.’”

God used a detour to protect His people. The route He chose was different than anticipated, it was longer than expected, but it was better. Detours don’t always make sense to us, but we must remember God’s words spoken through the prophet Isaiah:

“‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways’, declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.’” (Isaiah 55:8-9)

Do we truly believe that God knows best? 

Detours don’t only happen while traveling along a road, we also experience them as we journey through life. When was the last time your life took an unexpected turn? Maybe you recently said goodbye to a loved one, lost a job, were forced to give up a dream, had a close relationship dissolve, moved unexpectedly, or faced a medical diagnosis that rerouted your life. You find yourself on a detour that you never would have planned. What is your response? We have three options when faced with a detour:

  1. We can turn around, ceasing to pursue our desired destination.
  2. We can ignore the signs and attempt to find our own way.
  3. We can surrender to the change of plans and follow obediently until we are safely on the other side.

As followers of Jesus, what is our desired destination? What is the ultimate goal of our lives? I think many of us would agree that it is to be conformed to the image of Christ. Romans 8:29 says, “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.”

So even though we would have never asked for the trials that we face, I wonder if we could view them as a detour to becoming more like Christ? It wasn’t part of the plan, it took us into unfamiliar territory, but it also provided us with an opportunity to fully surrender control, follow Him more closely, and trust Him more completely. Options 1 and 2 will never take us to our desired destination as Christians.

I want to end with the words of a song that a dear friend recently shared with me and invite us to view God’s detours as a better way.            

“If you lead me through the fire
There’s a reason for the flames
I will trust, I will believe
That it’s a better way
If you lead me into battle
Then the fight is not in vain
I will trust, I will believe
That it’s a better way”

Let’s Pray: Lord, You alone are sovereign and Your way is perfect. Forgive us for when we try to force our will into existence rather than obediently following Your plan. Thank You for Your overwhelmingly beautiful love for us. May we honor You with our obedience even when we don’t understand.

For Further Study: Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” 

Heather Baer

Heather Baer lives in Greencastle with her husband and two children. She graduated with a Christian Ministries degree from Messiah College and later received her teaching certificate through Wilson College. She taught kindergarten in the public school system, was a staff pastor for the children’s ministry at a local church and is currently a stay-at-home mom. She loves running, coffee, and opportunities to teach children that they are created by God, loved by Jesus, and have a unique purpose in this life. 

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