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 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.
Currently the whole world is in the middle of the biggest detour any of us have ever known. COVID-19 has brought life as we know it, to a standstill. Fear and panic are raging all around us. The UNKNOWN threatens our peace and security. And our natural inclination to curl up in the fetal position and wish it all away, leaves us incapacitated and self-focused. Hoarding toilet paper and fixating on our fear.
In my reading of the book of Acts, I was challenged by Paul’s reactions to the detours in his life (can I just say, 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 steps in and tells 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 our detour of COVID-19 away, let’s embrace it and just like Paul, rise up, fearless and fierce. Daring to be different. Daring to be bold and courageous. Daring to look for ways to serve others and show them the way to Jesus.
What if this detour is God’s way of telling us that we’ve controlled things long enough and now it’s time to pry our hands off the wheel? What if it is His “billboard” to us? Are we resisting His direction in our lives and wasting precious time, living in fear and wanting things to change or are we accepting this divine detour and rising up to follow?
“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)
Spilling His Grace,