Life has a funny way (or not so funny way) of throwing us curveballs. We think our life is headed in one direction and then, wham! We find ourselves heading in a completely different direction. I know that many people are feeling that way right now during the COVID – 19 Pandemic. It can be scary, devastating, or simply leave you confused and floundering.
I was experiencing that kind of curveball back in 2016. My husband and I had stepped out in faith in 2012 to start a youth center. We were on the path we knew God wanted us to be taking. And, then, we weren’t! My husband got sent to prison and we had to close the doors of the youth center. How could this be happening? This was where God told us to go.
After my husband had been in prison about a year, I went through the Bible study “Detours” by Tony Evans. It is a study on the lessons we can learn from the life of Joseph. That seemed appropriate! We were currently in the midst of living a similar life. God had given Joseph an amazing dream and yet here he was – devastated and confused by the life he now knew in a prison. And, I might add, that is NOT a fun detour to take.
I was at a complete loss. I had fully believed that we would live out the rest of our days ministering to the youth in that community. It’s putting it mildly when I say I had NEVER wanted to move again. But, life gave me a detour.
Week One is about finding the Purpose of a Detour. Purpose? Really? The only one I could think of was that Satan wasn’t very happy with the work we were accomplishing and he decided to destroy the work and our lives right along with it. I understand that some detours can be God’s testing, but I have a really hard time believing that in our particular instance. Even with this struggle, I continued on in the study to try to get some clarity and understanding. The main encouraging purpose that I learned was to stay close to God during this time.
|Detours: The Unpredictable Path to Your Destiny
By Tony Evans
Are life’s detours slowing you down? Perhaps you’re being redirected so God can keep you away from hazards, clear away debris, or make improvements! Walk with Evans through the life of Joseph and discover why and how God uses these unpredictable byways to bring about his blessing and reveal his plan for you. 240 pages, hardcover from B&H.
Week Two is about the Proof of the Detour. Tony brings up 7 proofs that you may be on a detour in life. At that time, I felt most of them immensely. Prior to 2016, the threat of this detour would rear it’s ugly head on many occasions before it finally happened. When my husband finally had to go away, I was left alone to care for our home, ministry, and family. That particular ministry ended, but I ended up ministering to other women at the prison – I learned to serve women who were in the same position that I was. I also saw proof that we were in a detour when time after time we would get our hopes up that he would be released, only to have things fall through and it not happen. We felt positive that God would deliver us, only to have that deliverance postponed again.
Week Three reminds us to be Patient in our Detour. Sometimes, you simply have no choice. At first, the pain was so bad that all I did was binge-watch movies and TV and play online games. This chapter really reminded me to stop complaining and stop allowing depression to control me. I realized that I was being given an opportunity to get closer to God and to really begin working on my relationships with my husband and children. This study was done long before the pandemic we are now all facing. I had to smile when I read an answer to two of the questions Tony asks. The first question is one about why we think it takes the body longer to heal when we delay taking medication and I answered that we develop more bad bacteria in the meantime. The follow-up question likened that to refusing to obey God and how that impacts our deliverance or healing and I answered that we create more problems or spread germs. I know that people are antsy (and financially can’t take this much longer), but, maybe we need to be patient just a little bit longer during this detour so we don’t create more problems and spread germs!
Week Four is about the Pardon of the Detour. It takes you through any bitterness or forgiveness you need to work through. This was not something that I was really struggling with at the time.
Week Five was a big one for me since it covered the Promotion of Detours. It talks about preparing yourself for when the time finally comes to be done with the detour. It was this week’s study that really sparked my thought to dig out my notes that I had done years before on how Jesus interacted with people in the book of Matthew. I got out that study and began to pour through all my notes. I picked myself back up and began to determine to use this time wisely. When God was ready, he would have a new purpose and plan for my life. I wanted to make sure I was just as prepared and doing my part to help facilitate the ending of this detour.
Week Six finally brings you to the Providence of Detours. I loved Tony’s definition of providence – “stitching things together to bring them to a purposeful end.” At the time I did this study, I had absolutely NO idea that I would be about a month away from releasing my first book. But, I did believe that God was in the redeeming business. He would take all the yuck I had experienced and make it something beautiful.
My overall take away from the “Detours” study is that we need to keep our focus on God and eventually we will get to our new destination. Don’t allow the detours of life to sidetrack you!