Evangelists are prone to exclaim, “There is no plan B!” Their intent is to motivate us to tell others about Christ. While it’s a compelling evangelism charge, it doesn’t always ring true in life.
In fact, the sentiments printed on a coffee mug may come closer to my reality: “Life is all about how you handle plan B.” Perhaps you can identify with it, too.
Tony Evans wrote a book last year with a one-word title: “Detours.” Its subtitle intriguingly adds, “The Unpredictable Path to Your destiny.” I received a copy months ago, but I set it on a shelf. Then, I received a second copy sometime later. Was God trying to get my attention?
Recently, the book’s title peaked my curiosity. I picked it up and began reading. I’m glad I did! Chapter after chapter, God seemed to speak directly to me as Evans unpacked scriptural insights about detours, using examples from the life of Joseph.
God’s plan for our life includes detours, Evans believes. “God rarely takes us directly from where we are to where He wants us to go,” he explains. “More often than not, He disrupts the normal flow and directs us down a beaten path made up of unexpected curves, clefts, and challenges.”
Detours are often time-consuming, inconvenient, confusing, disappointing, discouraging and downright painful. Yet, through detours, God often works to bring about His blessings and direct us toward the destiny He intends for us all along. And, we learn what it means to rely fully on Him, rather than on our own devises.
Evans illustrates with a story about a sea turtle that ventured out upon land to lay her eggs. The turtle became confused and headed in the wrong direction. To rescue it, park rangers flipped her over, tied her legs together and drug her with a four-wheeler back to the sea. “Now, this turtle’s life has been jerked around, messed with, and she’s no doubt in some discomfort…,” Evans imagines.
“God enters our situations in detours and at times that requires a jerk, flip, tweaks, and pulls,” he explains. “We may yell in our hearts, ‘What are You doing to me, God? Where are You taking me? Why can’t I understand?'” To which, “God answers, often too quietly for us too hear over our own shouts, ‘I’m taking you exactly where you need to be. Trust me.'”
Hence, detours, while they seem bad, can become a good thing. The greatest lesson, he says, is learning to trust God and His hand in the midst of evil, sin and disappointments. “God is greater than all of it and will use it for good when we surrender to Him though a heart of faith, hope, forgiveness and love,” he affirms.
Still, “we blame Him. Yell at Him. Ignore Him. Become bitter toward Him.” Someday, though, we may come to recognize His hand of kindness and direction, and thank Him, Evans adds.
He offers a tremendous word of reassurance we all need to hear from time to time when—to our way of thinking—everything appears in disarray. “God has a plan for you,” he affirms. “Try not to fight the detours …. (But) praise Him in the pain,” he advises. “He knows what he is doing. He has great things up ahead for you.”
In her lyrics to “You Say,” Contemporary Christian artist Lauren Daigle allows us to see something of her inner struggle with a detour that causes her to have feelings of inadequacy and insecurity. Yet, she is able to find a way to “praise Him in the pain.” She sings:
“I keep fighting voices in my mind that say I’m not enough/ Every single lie that tells me I will never measure up /Am I more than just the sum of every high and every low?/ Remind me once again just who I am, because I need to know.
“You say I am loved when I can’t feel a thing/ You say I am strong when I think I am weak/ You say I am held when I am falling short/ When I don’t belong,/ You say that I am Yours/ And I believe, I believe/ What You say of me/ I believe.”
In the next two lines, she shares a key insight gained on her detour: “The only thing that matters now is everything You think of me/ In You I find my worth, in You I find my identity.” We, too, will find true peace and security only in God.