Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose”
The highway of life can't always be straight and smooth. There must be hills, there must be rough spots, and there must be occasional detours. Before I go any further we must define what a detour is? A detour is a long way around and takes you off the best path but later after much inconvenience brings you back on the main road. We have all had the experience of traveling along a beautiful highway and suddenly being confronted with a large sign saying, "Highway Closed - Follow Detour Signs." While driving to Buffalo this past summer, I had to take an unexpected detour from the main highway because of road construction, and by following the detour signs, I was brought again to the smooth highway. If you’re like me there isn’t any driver who enjoys having to take a detour, but there is usually a very good reason for them, and we must accept them with little question. Often times the detours of our personal goals that are divinely directed by God becomes a focus of complaint and discouragement. The detours and delays that occur in every believer in Christ may be one of sorrow, loneliness, illness and affliction, or of grave disappointments. These detours are always for good reasons, and usually prepare us for greater responsibility, service and even greater blessing than before.
I always enjoy reading the stories of God’s grace and love in the Old Testament Scriptures and am challenged as I wander along with God’s people while they witness miracles, face testing, and grow in their faith. A good example of miracles, testing and faith is recorded through the experience of the children of Israel. What started out as a detour of perhaps 100 miles (Exodus 13:17-18, “And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God led them not through the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, Lest peradventure the people repent when they see war, and they return to Egypt: But God led the people about, through the way of the wilderness of the Red sea: and the children of Israel went up harnessed out of the land of Egypt”) developed into a delay of 40 long years before they were actually prepared to enter the Promised Land. A mob of slaves, carnal and fearful, selfish and complaining, critical and greedy, worldly and idolatrous, somehow had to become a nation of responsible citizens, disciplined and courageous, industrious and law-abiding, God-fearing and spiritual. My brethren, this transformation required time and chastening and miraculous guidance, but it was all for their ultimate good and for the glory of God.
Keeping the above things in mind, and as you view your own past and present detours; they usually meant new roads were being built or old ones were being fixed, and those detours within your life can be the very circumstances that set you on a new and better path, and through it all you were able to see God’s hand in your detour. As the Scripture tell us, “All things do work together for the good of those who are called according to His purpose”, even the delays, detours and disappointments. Thus, some lessons we can learn from our detours could be:
(1) They appear suddenly and without warning – How suddenly detours appear! One day you’re perfectly well, but the next day you’re lying in a hospital. One day your home is intact and the next death has taken a loved one from you.
(2) We don’t know how long they will be - When the highway sign points out a detour, you take it without knowing how long it’s going to be. When life's detours appear, we don’t know how long we will have to suffer, but we are hopeful at any moment to come back to the main highway.
(3) They are rough and winding - They always take you out of your way, delay your arrival at your destination, and must always be traveled slowly and carefully. Likewise the detours of life require great patience for their traversing.
(4) They can also have good points – The scenery on the detour road is sometimes the most beautiful scenery, and so it is that the road which you are now traveling may bring you the greatest spiritual blessings and enjoyment of your life.
(5) They lead to an appreciation of the smooth highway – In the realm of living, the dark days we endure lead to an appreciation of the bright sunny ones. Thus, trouble, sorrow or affliction is never enjoyed; however, they help us to take full advantage of the good days, which the Lord so graciously gives us.
(6) Accept the detours of life in good cheer and in the Spirit of Christ – I have known individuals who are cheerful during their suffering and who say, “I don’t understand it all, but I love God and trust Him completely.” I’m mindful of the apostle Paul who I believe suffered severe bodily pain. He wrote the major portion of the New Testament and didn’t tell us of his trouble. My brethren, in the midst of our detours, we must smile, stay sweet, and above all trust God. Many times we are often disappointed regarding circumstances and people; however we must be aware of God’s love, grace and lean heavily upon Him for He is One who never fails or disappoints His children. Thus, we can truly say with all confidence, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”