I don’t know about you but whenever I see a detour sign on the road, I immediately whip out my phone and begin searching for the best way to get around the road closure. For some reason, I am always positive that with the help of Waze and Google Maps, I can find a quicker route than the one that the construction signs suggest.
Sadly, this is also pretty much the way I used to react to detours in my life. If people weren’t responding to me the way I wanted, I would try to manipulate them and make things happen. When I felt God telling me that I needed to be single and draw near to Him, I downloaded a dating app, confident that with enough searching I could find “the one”. Do you ever do the same thing? Try and shortcut the detours in your life? God gives us detours for very specific reasons. He may want to teach us something, show us something about his character or spare us some heartache.
In Exodus, God led the Israelites on a detour through the desert. While it may have seemed absurd to them, God had a very specific plan. Exodus 13:17 says, “When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea.” God knew the Israelites better than they knew themselves, and He knew that they might become discouraged and want to just go back to the familiarity of their lives in Egypt. God also wanted to show His power through the spectacle of parting the Red Sea. While it may have seemed like God was being cruel by leading them on a longer route, He actually was taking them on a smoother, easier path. He was protecting them from discouragement and obstacles.
One detour in my life came in my senior year of nursing school. I had worked my butt off to get through nursing school and one of the last major road blocks to graduation was completing my final practicum at a local hospital. Many times the practicum would turn into jobs after graduation, so it was pretty competitive to get placed if you wanted a specific area such as pediatrics or intensive care. The placements were decided based on a test that everyone took before our practicum, basically the better you did the more likely you would get the practicum you wanted. I wanted to be in the pediatric intensive care unit so I knew I had to ace the test to even have a chance. I studied extremely hard and ended up with the 3rd best score in my class. The two girls who scored better than me took the practicum spots in the pediatric intensive care unit and I didn’t get any of my top choices. I was devastated. I worked so hard on the test and still didn’t get what I considered a “good” placement.
I wish I could report that I had a good attitude and just accepted that this was God’s will, but I didn’t. I had a horrible attitude and complained almost the entire time. The practicum I got was as a house float at the children’s hospital. What I didn’t know at the time, was how important that practicum was going to be to my entire career. Because I floated to all units of the hospital and didn’t just stay in one unit, I met a ton of people throughout the hospital. Nurses, aides, managers and educators all got to know me as I filtered through their units. As a result of all the networking I was able to do, I got a job as an ER nurse at the children’s hospital after graduation. I worked on a couple different units at the hospital before taking a job as a house float nurse. That job gave me experience all areas of pediatric care and was a terrific resume booster. And it never would’ve been possible if I had gotten the intensive care unit practicum I thought I wanted.
Isn’t it so much easier to wait when we know what the detour is for? Whenever I see construction starting I always want to know what is being built. A few weeks ago there was construction starting outside my apartment building. I was immediately annoyed. How long is this going to take? Am I going to have to take a different way to work? However, after I found out they were building a Starbucks, I was more than happy to put up with the inconvenience of construction. Knowing the end result will be worth it makes it so much easier to endure detours. If I had known that my practicum was going to drive the course of my entire nursing career, I would’ve had a better attitude about it. But that’s not the way life works. God doesn’t give us all the answers so that we can understand his plan. He asks us to step out in faith and trust that He has good things in store for us.
Let’s check back in with the Israelites and see how their story ends.
Exodus 2:21-22 says, “God went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud during the day to guide them on the way, and at night in a pillar of fire to give them light; thus they could travel both day and night. The pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night never left the people.” Even though the Israelites didn’t understand why they were taking the roundabout way to the promise land, God went ahead of them. God is going ahead of us too, preparing the way and guiding us. Just like the pillar of cloud and fire never left the Israelites God will never leave us. No matter how crazy or off track our life seems to get, we are never left to walk the path alone. The Bible is full of examples of times when God leads someone on a detour so that great things could be accomplished.
When you begin to feel discouraged that things are taking longer in life than expected, cling to God’s word and the examples of God’s faithfulness in your life and in the lives of others!