Over the years I’ve presented God with a number of scripts for my life, largely fleshed out and filled with contingency plans where necessary, just waiting for his stamp of approval. What with him being so busy running the universe and all, I figured I was doing him a favor.
To date, God hasn’t followed a single one of those scripts.
He has unceremoniously scrapped my plans about my career trajectory, where I was going to live, and notably my marriage/children timeline. As I look back on the pattern of God’s work in my life, I notice a distinct pattern: I always ask for the straight line, the shortcut. And he, almost without exception, takes me the long way around.
When the Israelites were set free from their slavery in Egypt, I’m guessing they, too, assumed they’d go right from point A to point B, with no detours along the way. After all, God had just performed ten miracles in the form of dramatic plagues, and now he’d promised them a land of their own. Surely he’d take them straight there, right?
But here’s what the Bible says:
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.” So God led them in a roundabout way through the wilderness toward the Red Sea. Thus the Israelites left Egypt like an army ready for battle.
As it turned out, the “roundabout way” wasn’t something God did to his people out of spite. It was, without question, an act of grace. He used the detours to protect the Israelites and to build their character along the way.
In retrospect, I’m grateful God hasn’t accepted my life plans. In each scenario, he knew I wasn’t ready for point B yet. There was still some work he wanted to do inside me before I could make it in that new destination. And looking back now, I know that if I’d taken the shortcuts, I’d have missed out on some of the richest parts of my life.
So, God of the Detour, I hand over all my scripts to you. Let me embrace not just the Promised Land you’re leading me to but also the roundabout way you’re taking me to get there.
I’ve taken the challenge of reading the Bible chronologically this year and tracing the thread of grace through it. These musings are prompted by my reading. I’d love to have you join me: One Year Bible reading plan.