Road Construction! Detour!
Let’s be honest… those are definitely not the words you want to see on signs along the roads around your neighborhood. But they are exactly the ones that have been posted near our home for weeks while county road crews make some much needed repairs on the surface streets that we travel almost every day. While I’m definitely glad to see that improvements are being made, I really don’t like being forced to take the long way to get where I want to go. Being required to go out of my way seems like a waste of time and gas, and frequently puts me behind schedule since I usually forget to factor in the extra travel time before I head out the door. However, if I can manage to set aside my exasperation over what appears to be a delay, I can realize how a route change may actually be protective and beneficial.
You know that’s true on our spiritual journey as well. Think about the Apostle Paul, for example. God called him to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles and plant churches all around the Roman Empire, but after only a short time, he was arrested and thrown in jail. Logically thinking, a prison sentence could only be an annoying detour blocking the goal of his mission, but instead of moping about his situation, Paul viewed his incarceration differently.
In Philippians chapter 1, he wrote to new believers about his time in jail. He said, “Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly. (Philippians 1:12-14)
Paul saw this apparent delay as a God-designed avenue to spread the message of Christ more effectively. Through it, he was able to share the truth with the soldiers who were guarding him, and at the same time, others stepped up to carry on the task of preaching the Gospel in his absence.
Prison appeared at first to be a deviation from the main mission, but instead of derailing Paul’s task, it served to be an unexpected opportunity to advance God’s goal.
The same is often true along the road of your life. God doesn’t send detours to intentionally disappoint you or to waste time with unnecessary delays. But unfortunately, when things don’t go as planned, it’s easy to forget to factor in the possibility that the Lord might be carefully guiding even the difficult circumstances we encounter. (Jer. 29:11) Or that His plan might be a far better –and safer- course of action than the direction we choose to go.
So if you’re standing at what seems like a “Road closed” sign, resist the urge to get angry and frustrated. Willingly opt for the alternative that God presents and trust Him to show you exactly where you need to go and to get you there… right on time!