Have you ever felt like you're following a perpetual detour? You know where you want to go, felt certain God was leading you there, yet somehow you’ve ventured on the “scenic route” loaded with one round-about after the next. Are you lost? Has God forgotten about you altogether? Maybe you’ve begun to question whether or not you'll arrive at your destination at all.
Or if a particular destination awaits period.
That was how I felt a few years ago when God taught me an expensive and frustrating lesson. Though I know I often learn best through failures, I couldn’t help but question my circumstances. Couldn’t God have taught me that lesson in an easier, more financially frugal way? Sure, He took me from point A to point B, but did He really have to lead me through Q, S, W and Z first?
Then I read Exodus 13:17, which said, “When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, ‘If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt" (NIV).
The Israelites couldn’t see what lay ahead, but God could. More importantly, God saw their heart—He knew their breaking point and what it would take to turn their emerging faith into victorious confidence. Each day, as they traveled through the desert, they learned who God was. When the cloud raised in the morning, signaling time to depart, they learned to rely on and trust in His guidance. When Manna rained from the sky, they learned God was their Provider. When they crossed the Jordan River, they learned, with God, they could overcome the most daunting obstacles.
Maybe you're stuck in a round-about or wandering through a desert waste land and are struggling to see God's hand, to trust His care. Know this--God is with you, still has a plan for you, and will never leave you. Some of God’s detours are meant to strengthen or redirect us, but others are a direct result of His mercy and compassion. All come from His heart of love toward us.
With the Israelites, God knew what lay ahead and what the Israelites could handle. He knew that they were in no condition, spiritually or emotionally, to face fierce opposition from the Philistines. And so, in His infinite mercy, He led them in a gentler, albeit longer, direction.
I wonder, how many times has God done this for me? Perhaps there was some hidden danger in that job I so desperately wanted. Maybe that house I longed to buy had structural damage that would inevitably drain our finances. That ministry opportunity that appeared so perfect yet continually evaded my grasp might have led to spiritual weakness or distraction. Who knows? I don’t, but God does. And really, that is all that matters.
In my limited, human understanding, I'll always be stuck in the here and now, but I serve a God who sees yesterday, today, and tomorrow simultaneously and who is constantly at work behind the scenes to lead me His perfect will. My role isn't to figure everything out, but instead, to trust in the person and nature of Jesus Christ, knowing that He will indeed perfect the plans He has for me.
Let's talk about this. You may have heard the phrase, hindsight is 20-20. Can you share a time when a disappointment or delay later turned out to be a blessing? What do you do to stay focused, close to Jesus, and spiritually strong when you feel as if you've hit round-abouts and detours? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below, because we can all learn from and encourage one another.
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