..."and a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the way of holiness; evil minded people shall not travel on it, but it shall be for those wayfarers who are traveling toward God. (Isaiah 35:8, adapted)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Embracing Detours in Our Spiritual Lives

Detours are inevitable both in our natural and our
spiritual lives. We often have a negative view
of them because we want to be "on with it." We
want to get there, we want to proceed with our
plans and go the way we want. God, often,
in His Wisdom, has other plans. We must learn
to trust Him in the detours of life, even
when we do not know where the detours will take us,
and even when they are confusing.

Detours are not always bad. Sometimes they are
ordained of God. In the natural, detours are
meant to steer you around trouble. In the town
that I live in, they are laying sewage lines,
and God knows we need the sewage pumped out
of town. Where the road once was, are deep, deep
holes. To proceed as you have always done would be to
find your car and yourself wrecked in a ditch.

The authorities, well-meaning folk that they
are, have posted a traffic sign recommending
that you take a detour. Of course, there is no
easy way around. As the old Vermonter's used
to say when asked directions: "You can't get
there from here." Sometimes detours feel
like that. But God has His ways. Going the
long way around may be a pain,
but not as much of one as going through
a forbidden zone.

When Paul preached the gospel he encountered
Holy Ghost detours: "Now when they had gone
throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia,
and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach
the word in Asia, 7 After they were come to
Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but
the Spirit suffered them not. 8 And they
passing by Mysia and came down to Troas.
9 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night;
There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him,
saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us.
10 And after he had seen the vision, immediately
we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly
gathering that the Lord had called us for to
preach the gospel unto them. (Acts 16:9-10)

We make plans, but the Lord continues to guide
us in the best way. Sometimes doing the
right thing will include a detour.
The story of the good Samaritan is one such
example: "But a Samaritan, as he traveled,
came where the [wounded]man was; and when he
saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to
him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil
and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey,
took him to an inn and took care of him.
35 The next day he took out two silver coins
and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’
he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you
for any extra expense you may have.’ (Luke 10:33-35).

The "Good Samaritan" had to stop to help the man.
He had to take time to tend to his wounds, and
take him to a place where he could recuperate.
Perhaps not much time was lost, but whatever
he had planned for that day was disrupted.

Can we see these detours as divine appointments?
Can we trust that even when we are delayed
that God is watching out for us? Sometimes
the right road to proceed on is not abundantly
clear. We look one one way and there is a detour,
we look another way, and that way has a detour
also. How can this be of God? As long as we
are looking to God and are willing to
submit to Him, we will be on the right
track, no matter what. Sometimes the
detour is so bad we have to come to
a complete stop. Being puzzled at that
point is all part of it.

Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit out into
the desert to be tempted! Upon his return
He went to His home town of Nazareth but
was not well received. God created His
own detour for Jesus. The people of
Nazareth "rose up, and thrust him out of
the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill
whereon their city was built, that they might
cast him down headlong.

30But he passing through the midst of them
went his way
. (Luke 4:19-30). Sometimes
when God detours us, it is to protect us.

The detours of God can be God's most
swift and efficient ways of getting
us to where we need to be. Trust God
in this season of detours. You are not

photo taken in Southwick, Massachusetts

No comments: