Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Detour

I find it funny how God uses the ordinary things of this world to transform me and renew my mind. Instead of thinking about things in the way they appear on the surface, I am forced to look deeper to fully understand the plan God has for my life.

I go to college three times a week this semester. The drive to school is long and for most of the distance, I travel on a two-lane highway with few opportunities to pass. Often I get behind someone who appears to be trying out for the parade, and while it is easy to get upset and loudly suggest they try the skinny pedal on the right, God would rather teach me something that requires a slower pace to fully catch all that He has for me.

On the way to the university last semester, my friend and I would carpool. Along the way we saw construction workers, big trucks, and digging equipment. The workers were busy on the side of the road with their agendas and plans that seemingly had little to do with me. Weeks passed and I did not even notice what the workers had been doing. How could I? I was too busy to notice what was all around me as I suffered from tunnel-vision. I just wanted to make my way home as quickly as possible after being in school all day, far from home and my family, and forcing knowledge into my brain after years of being out of a "learning environment."

This semester is different. My first class of the week takes place in the evening. The sun was setting as I made my way to the campus. That was the first time I noticed the neon orange signs that read: DETOUR. For a split second I got nervous. Where would the detour lead me? I am not familiar with this area. I know of one way to get to school and that is all. If I cannot take the road I am familiar with, what will I do? I edged along with the traffic, tires slowly rotating on a new road. We were just a few feet away from the road I had traveled on so many times before. This wasn't scary at all. Why did I even let myself worry about where I would go?

Sometimes I think that God puts a sign up in our path that reads: DETOUR and the first thing we do is worry. We start to let our minds wonder and we think of every possible catastrophe that could happen before we even step onto the new path we are being directed on. Often, I have found that once I actually start moving in the direction God is leading me, it is not scary at all. In fact, there are many times that I can look over and see a big mess where I insisted to God that I should have been. Instead of a newly paved road, created to take me around a dangerous area, I wanted to stomp and scream to be allowed to "go the way I always went." We like the familiar, don't we? I know I do. It's comfortable and reliable. I depend on the familiar to keep me from going too far out of my comfort zone.

Have you ever been asked this question before? "If God is so loving, why did He allow this horrible event to happen?" Doesn't God get all of the credit when things go wrong? That is so ironic that when good things happen it is always attributed to man's power and wisdom, a woman's abilities and skill. Seldom does God ever get the credit even from Christians. I will admit that I have been in a situation where I was asked a tough question like that and I had no answer. I simply did not know, but now I do and I want to share that with you today.

God did not create horrible events for us to fall into as though He were setting a trap for us. God does not sit around on the throne thinking  up ways to make our lives miserable and to wonder if He loves us. We know that God loves us because John 3:16 says For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life. So we know that He is a loving God. But, yes bad things happen. God does not create these events, but He is aware that when left to our free will, humans will do things that are not right and God can use those times to make something beautiful happen.

I do not know why my uncle got cancer. It was 4 months of pain and suffering that resulted in death. I prayed with all the faith I had in me for God to heal Him. Did God give my uncle cancer? No, He did not. Did God use the circumstances of my uncle's condition to draw our hearts closer to Him as we prayed for Uncle John? Yes, He did. Romans 8:28 says And we know that all things work together for good to them who love the LORD who are the called according to His purpose. Do I know why God chose to take Uncle John home instead of letting him stay with us for several more years? No, I do not. However, I trust that God used every minute of those tragic circumstances up to and following my uncle's death to remind us that the journey is not over for the rest of us, no matter how bad we wanted to stop, too. God gently placed His hand on our backs and guided us toward the Detour which would lead us to the Cross where He would trade our sorrow for gladness, our mourning for joy, and would take the cloak of heaviness to give us a garment of praise.

Will my journey be long? I do not know. Will I miss some of the beauty along the way in my haste to get home? Probably. Will the road be smooth and without any blind curves or narrow lanes? Of course not. But I hope instead of feeling doubt and despair at the sight of the neon orange DETOUR sign, I will feel excitement and anticipation as I set off on an adventure like none other. I have been on many detours in my life. I took the wrong road, had to back track, went out of my way to get somewhere when there was a quicker way, but when I called on Jesus, who is the best GPS, I was able to get back on the road towards home.

I pray that you will look at your detours differently and if you are on the road to nowhere, do not be afraid. You can have Jesus to guide you back home, too. Maybe you once knew the way, but you got lost as your eyes drifted toward the exit signs and smoother highways to the right or to the left. You can get back on the highway towards Home when you give your heart to Christ. Just ask Him to forgive you for all the things you have done knowingly and unknowingly that were not pleasing in His sight. Acknowledge that you are lost and need a Savior. Ask Jesus to be the LORD of your life and if you will mean it with all of your heart, you will be saved.

If you prayed and asked Jesus to come into your heart, tell someone you know. Get involved with a church that preaches the true Word of God without watering it down to keep the congregation numbers up. Tell someone you know that you have accepted Jesus Christ as LORD of your life and I promise you will never be the same again!

I hope you have been blessed by these words. God will see you through and make a way even when there seems to be no way. Sometimes He may have to drag out those neon orange road signs that say DETOUR to get you back on track. I pray that you will stay in His will but not be in His way.