When Pharaoh 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. God said, “If the people are faced with a battle, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” So God led them in a roundabout way through the wilderness toward the Red Sea. Thus the Israelites left Egypt like an army ready for battle. – Exodus 13:17-18 (NLT)
Don’t you just love detours? You make plans to reach a destination at a certain time only to find out that you have to take an alternate route delaying your arrival? I commute to work everyday in Houston (oy vey), so I’ve had my fair share of detours and delayed arrivals. However, I’ve come to realize that detours are usually protecting me from something that could have been dangerous or detrimental to my safety and overall well-being.
Let’s flip this to the spirit realm. Just like detours can prevent us from traveling down a road never intended for us it can also protect us from unforeseen danger. For example, after the Israelites were delivered from Egypt, they weren’t aware of the danger and probability of war that lied ahead by taking the quick route. They may not have been aware but God was and as a result, He adjusted their route. (Sounds like a detour to me.) God did this in order to prevent the Israelites from retreating back to what was comfortable.
God does the same for us. Instead of rushing our process (or allowing us to bypass it) to appease the time frame we’ve set in place, He takes us the “long route” where pruning and development are involved. God doesn’t leave us hanging though; He’ll either provide everything we need before our journey or He’ll make provision for us along the way. After we’ve endured the process, we’re not only better equipped to walk into the promise land but to be better stewards over our increase. God knew the Israelites weren’t prepared to face a battle with the Philistines. Even though they had just experienced victory, it wasn’t enough of a foundation to prevent them from running back when faced with a new “Egyptian.” The Israelites soon proved God right by complaining against Him any time they were faced with opposition or a new challenge. (Exodus 14:11-12) When faced with an obstacle, you may have spoken similar complaints yourself:
“If God would have let me stay in that relationship I could have been married by now. “
“If God wouldn’t have closed that door or lead me to quit my job I would be so much further in my career.”
Instead of following the Israelites example, we should learn the lesson they had to learn the hard way: don’t allow a complaining spirit to attach itself to you! Complaining only elongates your process, delays your elevation and frustrates God. The Israelites ended up reaping the harvest of their complaints and as a result weren’t able to enter into the promised land. (Thank God for Jesus!) In moments where you’re vulnerable to a complaining spirit, it’s imperative that you check your focus (and circle) so you’re not tempted to speak death into your situation. In the end, the Israelites received what God promised them and in due season we will too!
Someone else experienced a God ordained detour in the bible. His name was Joseph and most of us know his story:
So it came to pass, when Joseph had come to his brothers, that they stripped Joseph of his tunic, the tunic of many colors that was on him. Then they took him and cast him into a pit. And the pit was empty; there was no water in it. – Genesis 37:23-24 (NKJV)
The moment Joseph was thrown in the pit, God’s detour began in his life. But it didn’t end there. Joseph was eventually sold into slavery and thrown in prison before receiving his promotion as 2nd in command in all of Egypt. (SN: Elevation may not always look like elevation.) After Joseph passed his slave test by not having an affair with Potiphar’s wife, he was elevated to prisoner. I know that sounds crazy right? Although it appeared that Joseph was demoted in the natural realm he was indeed promoted in the spiritual. (Another one of God’s wonderful detours.) From the position of prisoner is where Joseph is elevated to the palace. Sometimes you have to trust God and ignore what you see so you can see what you saw! As a teen Joseph had two dreams foreshadowing the position he would eventually walk into. However, I’m sure that what he went through to get to that point, didn’t at all look like what he anticipated from his dreams. So no matter what your situation currently looks like, it doesn’t mean you’re on the wrong track headed in the wrong direction. Continue to follow God’s lead no matter how hard it is!
Even though Joseph endured trials at the hands of his brothers, God could have been protecting him from “true” death. Before Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery they contemplated killing him, but due to the favor and protection on Joseph’s life, God blocked it. Had they not succeeded in selling him into slavery who’s to say they wouldn’t have killed him when the next opportunity presented itself? (Selah.) #mansrejectionGodsprotection
The bible doesn’t mention Joseph clinging to his dreams but I’m sure he used them as motivation to endure his detour. Sometimes the very thing that got you thrown in the pit will be the very thing that places you in the palace. You walk in obedience to God even when you’re criticized and as a result you reap the harvest of your obedience. You wait for God to bless you with your spouse by not settling and entertaining randoms and He blesses you with more in a man/woman than you could’ve imagined. Even though you didn’t understand the detour (severed relationships or unemployment) it lead you right where you were supposed to be.
**Please note that God-ordained detours are completely different than the detours we bring upon ourselves due to impatience and disobedience. Here are some tips to recognize the difference between a God-ordained and self-inflicted detour:
- God’s provision is made every step of the way
- The detour doesn’t delay your “arrival” time (different than a natural detour of course)
- No matter what your situation looks like, God will bless you with favor (i.e. Joesph as a slave and prisoner)
- God graces you with everything you need to endure
- You have to figure out everything on your own and maintain the provision
- The detour delays your arrival time (Abraham – Ishmael)
- God’s favor is not attached (He didn’t ordain it, He’s not obligated to maintain it)
- Instead of experiencing His favor, God can grant mercy on your behalf as you reap the fruit of your disobedience and endure the consequences. (SN: No matter how many times we fall short God will never hate or abandon us. But we must be aware that there are consequences to the choices we make. God can choose to allow us to endure the full harvest of our consequences or He can lighten the blow. Abraham disobeyed God but God still blessed Ishmael despite Abraham’s disobedience. But Abraham still had to endure the delay of the promise and the stress that came with having to maintain a healthy relationship between his wife and “baby mama.”)
No matter if you’re experiencing a God-ordained detour or a self-inflicted one, know that God will use both for His glory. God blessed the Israelites with manna, quail and water from a rock while they were wandering in the wilderness. Even in Abraham’s lack of faith and disobedience God blessed him to bear a child at 100 years old. I’m so thankful that in spite of everything we go through God is in the midst of it all. While we’re pulling our hair out trying to figure out an “unexpected detour,” God has already worked it out. (Especially if He orchestrated the detour in the first place.) Detours can be a nuisance but when we trust God completely and follow Him, we’re bound to see how God uses everything to work together for our good. Before you step outside of God’s will to take a shortcut, slow down and contemplate what your detour could be protecting you from. God’s timing is perfect so there’s no need to rush. What God has for you is for you and it will surely come…. and not delay!
Peace and love.
Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say “My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.” – Isaiah 46:9-10 (NIV)