- Eldon Peterson
Seeing Opportunities in Detours
I walk our store’s weekend deposit to the bank every Monday morning. Normally it is a little less than 1 ½ miles round trip, but this week, due to sidewalk closures along Main Street, another ¼ mile was added to my normal route because of detours.
By definition, detours are not convenient. Webster defines a detour as: “a deviation from a direct course or the usual procedure especially: a roundabout way temporarily replacing part of a route.” Often we are unable to plan ahead for detours; they are unexpected and leave us no option but to yield to the deviation. However, if we allow it, detours give us the opportunity to reset our attitudes.
So, how will I respond to detours? Will I embrace them as an opportunity to see the world from a different vantage point
? Rather than focusing on the inconvenience of not being able to take a direct course, will I take time to enjoy the journey? The lessons that we learn from the detours we experience on the highways (or sidewalks) can apply to the detours that we experience in our lives too.
Detours in life occur when things don’t turn out the way that we expected or when our journey takes a turn different from what we wanted or expected. I appreciate what Tony Evans has to say about life detours, “In life, as it is often on the road, detours exist because construction is taking place. When you’re on a highway and there’s a detour, it is usually because workers are trying to fix, build, correct or improve something.”
This was certainly true of my walk to the bank. I was unable to take the direct route because on one side of Main Street the sidewalk was removed for the construction of the new library, and around the new In-N-Out Burger the sidewalk was removed to put in new curb, gutter and sidewalk. While these were being done to “fix, build, correct or improve something” it still resulted in me being inconvenienced in trying to get to the bank.
Evans suggests that when we encounter detours in life we can trust that, “God will take us on a detour because He is constructing something in our lives as well.” A favorite verses of mine affirms this. “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” (James 1:2–4)
Do the detours that you encounter in your life cause you GREAT JOY or are they a reason for you to grumble and complain? Do you believe that God will use detours to do something good in your life? Our answer reveals if we understand that God is more interested in our development than our arrival. When our focus is on the arrival rather than the journey we will not only fail to “smell the roses” but we can also become needlessly distracted and embittered by the inconvenience of the detours.
We should see detours as opportunities provided by God to trust Him more. Realizing that God is still God in the midst of the detours we encounter in life will allow us the opportunity to learn, grow and develop. Or as James says, “to be perfect and complete, needing nothing.”
When we make this our desire, we can embrace our detours trusting that God will use them to take us where we need to go even if it is not the path that we would have chosen. Paul testifies, “We are glad for our troubles also. We know that troubles help us learn not to give up. When we have learned not to give up, it shows we have stood the test. When we have stood the test, it gives us hope. Hope never makes us ashamed because the love of God has come into our hearts through the Holy Spirit Who was given to us.” (Romans 5:3–5)
Were we to map out our journey, it’s unlikely to be a straight path. We’ll see places where the Lord has placed roadblocks in our path to detour us in a way that he is preparing for us. Rather than being bothered by these we will be wise to consider what this new way has to offer to us and to rejoice in what the Lord reveals.