“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” —Romans 8:28
How often do you say, "Thank you, Lord!" for the difficult moments in your life? How often do you rejoice when God says no to something that you really wanted? Interesting questions right?
Here's a challenge. Pause for a moment and ask God to show you one uncomfortable moment or a time when you presented something to Him and his answer was no (when you really wanted a yes). Now ask Him to reveal the areas of provision and growth regarding that moment. If you do this with an open heart and mind, for some, you may find that the blessing or provision was on the other side of that uncomfortable season or that the NO was for your good.
Now if we are honest, it's easy to look back and see the purpose for the difficult moment or the NO and praise him for the outcome, but I believe that God wants us to also learn how to respond with obedience and gratitude in the moment.
Let's go back to the book of Exodus and take a quick journey with the beloved children of Israel. I want to highlight one teachable moment, of many, that were seemingly missed by the Israelites with a hope that we can learn a valuable lesson. The Israelites had been in captivity for hundreds of years. God established a plan that would lead them out of Egypt and into the promise land prepared for them. He took into consideration what they would face along the journey and as a Good Father would, he directed their path accordingly.
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.” //Exodus 13:17//
Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines detour as a deviation from a direct course or the usual procedure; a roundabout way temporarily replacing part of a route. Think back to the last time you were on your way to a destination and you came to a detour. How did it make you feel? What was your response?
I you are like me, you may run into self inflicted detours more than often. On those days I may leave the house later than intended. As soon as I get in the car, I'm quickly reminded that I need to stop and get gas. Why? Because I didn't follow my thought to stop on the way home the night before…
Then there are those times when we have planned and timed everything out perfectly. We start out as scheduled and everything is going as expected. We get 5 minutes away from our destination and lo and behold, there is a detour that takes us 20 minutes out of the way. Now this brings about a frustration that is some times hard to explain. It is a reality that we don't want accept mainly because in that moment we are only concerned with getting to our destination.
This illustration is a great reflection of what takes place in the spiritual journey of a believer. God often places detours through out our lives but be assured there is always a purpose. Often the way God chooses may be longer than we would like for it be, but God has the ability to see what we can't see. Along the way there may be obstacles that we are not yet strong enough to handle. This was the case regarding the Israelites. When God wants to take us to another realm of grace and promise, He will always have a plan of execution with our physical, mental, emotional, and most of all spiritual well being in mind.
On different occasions God has given me a "glimpse" of the promises He has in store for me, but sometimes the path seems to be longer than I would have expected. Some of that is due to my response to the process. When God takes me on an unexpected route I get frustrated and lose heart because I have lost sight of Him. During those times I was no longer in a position to hear His instructions clearly because I was more focused on the destination than Him. Furthermore, out of fear and disobedience I would find my way back to what I was use to. The crazy thing is, what I had become use to also was a place of dysfunction and bondage. Crazy right?
Many of you may know the Israelites story, and how eleven-day journey for them turned into a forty year odyssey. For those of you who do not know the story, I encourage you to ready and study the book of Exodus. The journey ended up being longer that intended due to their may levels of failure to comply. Sounds familiar? Can you imagine what life would be like if we would just go with the plan of God from the beginning? I am firm believer that in order for growth to happen there has to be a process. I also believe that often times we struggle with things we don't have to. The word of God is a lamp for our feet and light on our path (Psalm 119:105). The Holy Spirit is a teacher that will guide us in all truth (John 16:13).
Detours have purpose and are designed to take us better route for the time being. It is when we try to pave our own way, we fall short of and cause a greater delay. We will face uncomfortable moments in life for sure. God will tell us NO in regards to things we want, but it is for certain that hope and purpose is found when we gratefully endure those uncomfortable and unwanted seasons. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight (Proverbs 3:5-6).
In Jesus name, AmenHeavenly Father, Often times I veer away from your intended path for my life and I become frustrated with the process that was meant for my good. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are you ways and thoughts higher than mine. Forgive me for believing that my way was better. Help me to have a receptive heart to your perfect will for my life so that I may live a life that honors you.