Sometimes the detours of our lives can bring us our greatest joy and our greatest blessings, and our greatest opportunities for ministry.
In Enterprise, Alabama, there is a statue in the town square that is dedicated to the boll weevil. You may think that strange, but several years ago the boll weevil came in and destroyed all their cotton crops, forcing the farmers to plant peanuts instead. The peanuts made them a fortune, more than the cotton crop had ever done. So, what seemed to be disaster actually turned into the greatest fortune they had known.
Think about the ministry of Jesus. It seems His ministry was a continuous stream of interruptions. Think about the number of times the Bible says Jesus was on His way to somewhere when, out of the blue, someone called out to Him or touched Him. Once, while he was preaching in a house, four men lowered their lame friend down through the roof. We don’t know what Jesus was speaking about that day, but we do know He “detoured” from His message and healed the lame man. Or what about the time He was going through a large crowd of people to heal a man’s daughter, when a woman who was sick touched the hem of His garment. The blind man calling out to Him—an interruption. The funeral of a young boy—an interruption. On and on we can go, but the point is, that most of the events recorded in the gospels, those things we talk most about in Jesus’s ministry, are the interruptions, those divine detours, from where He was “planning” to go. Jesus didn’t complain about how full His day was or how He didn’t have time for this. But rather, He would seize the opportunity to minister and care for those who came His way. Should we not feel the same about our divine detours?
At a church where I was once on staff, one of the members unexpectantly lost his job. This was someone who had started working for this local company while still in high school and had worked his way up through the ranks to mid-level management. There was no doubt that he thought he would work for that one company his whole life. It was a good job and his pay was above-average. He had not been thinking about whether his company would do any type of downsizing. All of a sudden, out of nowhere, he was unemployed, without any job prospects. He was totally blindsided by this. This was a small community that had already been suffering from plant closures and a decrease in population. Prospects of another job equal to what he had were virtually nonexistent. He began putting in applications locally while, at the same time, thinking about where he might have to relocate. Then, out of nowhere, he received a call from a local factory needing someone for a mid-level management position doing the same thing he had done for the last ten years. The start off pay was almost twice what he was making at his former job, with the ability to go higher in management. This had been limited at his former job. Had there not been an unexpected divine detour, he would have never been looking for a job and would not have received the biggest pay raise he had ever received in his life.
Sometimes we may not recognize those divine detours, but in the busy lives that we all live, we must learn to be sensitive to God’s changes in our plans. I remember hearing about a woman with whom God was trying to get to bake a cake for her neighbor. She did not want to do this because she could only bake a cake with the help of a Betty Crocker cake mix, while her neighbor had won several blue ribbons from the county fair for her cake baking. Several times during the day, she felt that she should bake this cake and take it over, but she pushed it out of her mind and went about her busy day. The next morning she heard a commotion next door and looked outside and saw that several emergency vehicles were at her neighbor’s house. She went over and found out that her neighbor had killed herself. On the nightstand beside an empty pill bottle, was a note that simply said, “Nobody cares.” What God was dealing with her about had nothing to do with cakes, but about caring.
The next time that car won’t start, or that trip you had been planning for weeks is canceled. The next time something is blocking that road you were planning to travel down and you are forced to take that detour, let me encourage you to look at it as a divine detour. Sometimes God may not be in the plans of our life, but we can always find Him in the interruptions of our life, in those divine detours.