The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “detour” as a deviation from a direct course. Some years back, I was running at MacRitchie Reservoir. I decided to make a detour from the route that I was familiar with. It became a difficult time of finding my way back to the main road. I had no idea where I was. I met a security personnel who told me I was not allowed on the club property. I remember crossing a bund and finding myself at a Reservoir Park. I finally managed to reach Upper Thomson Road.
Why do people make detours? Some do so because they think the detour will allow them to reach the destination faster. Some seek to explore new routes. Others detour because the original route is no longer passible, as in the case of road construction or a damaged bridge.
Many of our own decisions for detours arise from the belief that the alternative way is a shortcut or provides a more interesting journey. However, it usually ends up in more pain, a longer route or even finding ourselves back where we started.
The Bible records many cases of “detours”. Moses tried to defend the interests of a Hebrew slave against an Egyptian. He killed the Egyptian by mistake and had to go on a detour of 40 years in the wilderness to learn humility and to be a trusting servant of Yahweh. The nation of Israel rebelled against God and ended up with a long detour of 40 years in the wilderness.
Most of us would deem a detour an interruption to our schedule. However, let us be mindful of God-directed detours.
It is interesting to know that our Lord Jesus made a detour, recorded in Luke 8:40–55. The crowd was waiting for Jesus, expecting to hear him preach. Upon the appeal of Jairus, He made a detour to Jairus’ house. The Bible recorded that Jesus bought Jairus’ daughter back to life. Deacon Philip was directed away from his normal routine of daily distribution to the Hellenist widows (Acts 8:26-40). He had to put aside his service and detour to Gaza, a desert place. Philip’s detour resulted in the baptism of the Ethiopian treasurer of Queen Candace. The apostle Paul had a call to go into Macedonia when he was in Troas (Acts 16:9-10). Paul ended up baptising Lydia and her household. God-directed detours can bring great results!
Do we get upset when our routine is interrupted? Could it be that we have the idea that it is a waste of our time? Let us look at it from another angle. Each day is a gift from God to us. God has given us another day to serve Him. That is time that He has entrusted to us. Divinely directed detours are God’s way of using us to achieve His objectives. The Lord gives us the opportunity and allows us the privilege to be part of His plan.
“To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ.” – Col 1:27-28 (ESV)
COVID-19 has changed the way businesses operate and impacted our personal lifestyles as well as the mode in which we can continue to serve God. Unemployment has risen, and we have been warned that the next few months will be a challenge. Let us keep close to God, knowing that this is an opportunity for us to do good and show the lovingkindness that God intends to make known to the people around us. We must not waste the opportunities presented to us during this pandemic. This is the time to labour for God! Whether we are sowing or harvesting, let us be alert to the detours that God places in our lives.
As we reach out with the compassion of Jesus, we turn our attention away from ourselves and focus on Jesus and the completed work of the cross. May God help us to be faithful in proclaiming that Jesus came to redeem the world!
– Dn Richard Yew