What can be more frustrating when you’re trying to get somewhere than seeing that big arrow on an orange sign that reads DETOUR? Now you’re sure to be late. “Why does this always happen to me?” you think to yourself; or maybe you say it out loud with more added emphasis.
We’ve all been in that situation (if you haven’t… you will be). I know I’ve had more than my fair share while making deliveries. Sometimes you get introduced to new things: a yard sale that has something in it that you’ve been looking for; a car for sale that looks like just what your brother needs; or some produce being offered by a farmer that you want.
God has strange ways of bringing detours into our lives that jolt us. How many of us have our future mapped out with our employer only to be downsized, or have the whole business fold; a family member suddenly dies; a diagnosis comes from out of nowhere; our spouse leaves? I could go on, but I’ll spare anymore examples. Romans 8:28 is usually quoted by somebody at those times, it seldom brings comfort… “all things work together for good…”. “How can any good come out of this?” you wonder. Verse 29 needs to be tied into that thought to get the completeness of the message. Making us more like Christ is God’s ultimate goal in everything that happens to us.
Lessons are ultimately being taught to us by these detours that we will never learn any other way. That’s not to mean they won’t be painless, don’t forget we do live in a fallen world. The story is told about the time Michelangelo was presented with a piece of granite. The master walked around that rock in amazement and awe. “It’s so marvelous!” Others thought he had lost his mind, but when he had removed all of the unnecessary pieces we all now see what he saw from the beginning: the statue of David.
God is in a similar act of making us in the image of His Son, Jesus Christ. Removing of the unwanted, sinful, selfish parts is a lifelong process that takes some drastic steps of painful changes. Being a true christian isn’t for sissies. Numerous Bible passages talk about suffering like Jesus, and groaning. Sounds like some serious business to me. We can’t always see the full meaning of what we need to learn at the time of the event. But, we must realize that God is ultimately sovereign, He controls every event in our life. Even the sinful, selfishness performed by others.
I’m not saying that it’s all right for people to do whatever they want to anybody whenever they want to. But, I do know that God loves each one of us, and John 10:28 promises that we can’t be snatched out of Jesus’ hand. John 10:29 states that we can never be snatched out of the Father’s hand either. Sounds like you can take that to the bank.
The ultimate detour in human history takes 5 books of the Bible to tell us about. It begins in the book of Exodus… yeah, the Hebrew trip back to the Promised Land. Exodus 13:17 explains that God purposefully re-routed them away from the most direct course and later had them camp so they would be trapped against the sea. Why? According to 14:4b it was so ‘…I will gain glory for myself…”.
You recall the next part of the story: Pharaoh attacks with the mightiest armed force at that time, horses and chariots… the whole 9 yards; then God blocks them with His cloud until the Red Sea separates and His people cross safely on dry ground; then the cloud lifts so the Egyptians can be trapped in the flood waters as they recede. So, then God’s people are forever assured that God is always going to go to battle for them for all eternity. Right? Not if you continue reading.
Fast forward to Numbers chapter 13. After a year of traveling to the edge of the Promised Land, and the building and dedication of the tabernacle, and consecrating everyone and everything possible, God tells Moses to send some spies over the Jordan to see just what awaits them there. Is this really a land flowing with milk and honey, or where all those billboards a joke? During the 40 days the spies were gone the people were all recounting the times God miraculously provided the water from rocks, the manna from heaven each morning, and quails from somewhere. Right? Apparently not.
The first known test of democracy leads the people to follow the advice of the vast majority of the spies; instead of trusting The One True God Who promised them all that was good in the land if they would just trust and obey Him. The result… another detour. This one would last for 40 years (one year for each day the spies were in the land), and would result in the death of EVERY person over 20 years old according to the recent census (except for the vocal minority of 2 spies who fully trusted God with their whole hearts).
Talk about a detour, I’ve been in some that seemed to go on forever, but not 40 years! Give me a break. Why did God have to be so extreme with His chosen people? He had to weed out those who didn’t trust and obey Him. Fast forward to Matthew 25:31-46; Jesus tells of another time when there will be a weeding out of people; here called sheep and goats. The destinations are two: eternal punishment and eternal life. As Joshua declared in his farewell speech to God’s chosen people as they went their separate ways after they FINALLY moved into the Promised Land; “…choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve,”(Joshua 24:15).
My sincere prayer is that you will take Joshua’s stand and declare: “as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD” (Joshua 24:15). The choice is totally up to you. Faith in Jesus is the requirement for being on the eternally happy team.
I’ll see you later. Wade