Detours are delays. They are rerouted paths that keep us from our original route. Detours pop up in places we had not expected. When we get in our cars, we do so with a destination in mind. We plan to go somewhere.

And we typically know how we plan to get there—which highway we are going to take, which turn to avoid rush-hour traffic, and which side streets we are going to use to arrive at our final destination.

And even if we don’t know the way, we can type the destination address into our smartphone app, and rely on an automated voice to guide us through every turn.

Regardless if we are following our own mental map or the voice in our phone, sometimes we run into a detour (something we did not expect). Some roadblock that requires us to make a U-turn or go down a path we did not expect.

I don’t know about you, but I like to get to where I am going without any detours.

In fact, when the kids were younger and we loaded them all into the car to drive from Dallas to Baltimore to visit my parents each summer, I barely even stopped. Sometimes I would race myself based on the last year’s time clock in order to see if I could beat my previous time.

If the kids needed to use the bathroom, I told them to wait. If they were thirsty, they had to wait. There was a method to my madness, you see. If I got the kids a drink, then we would have to stop more down the road to use the bathroom. Essentially, they all buckled down at my mercy because I had a destination at which to arrive.

As you might imagine, if I won’t even stop for normal things like food and bathroom breaks, you can guess how I feel about a detour. It’s not good.

I sigh.

I moan.

I wonder why on earth did this have to happen to me right now.

Have you ever done something similar? Have you ever been driving down the road when all was well only to arrive at a construction site with orange signs and arrows and experience your whole attitude and outlook change?

 

I’ve admitted that mine changed; you can admit it too.

Detours are typically unexpected inconveniences that, without fail, cause a speed bump in your emotions. It’s either a sign you come up on, or a person who steers you elsewhere, or a police car with lights on it sitting there to let you know the road you are traveling is no longer available. Now, because of the detour, you and I must go off the beaten path, take longer than we had wished to, and be inconvenienced in order to arrive where we had hoped to go.

Detours are good things that often feel bad.

Few of us like to be stalled for any reason. Even if it’s just someone cutting us off in traffic and forcing us to slow down. But detours are necessary if any improvement is going to be made on the paths we travel. Or if any wreck is going to be cleaned up or hazard avoided. Detours are designed for our own good, regardless of how we view or feel about them. Detours are good things that often feel bad.

Divinely designed detours are positive interruptions designed to divert down a better path so that we might have the opportunity to reach our destination at all.

Let me repeat that since it is something we don’t often hear: Detours can be a good thing. They provide safety, opportunities for road improvement, and a different way to get where we want to go.

If you were to sit at a detour sign and stubbornly refuse to take the diversion, you would go nowhere. You would just sit there. For days. Possibly weeks sometimes.

 

Yes, a detour may take longer than you had originally planned; however, it won’t take any longer than if you were to try to push through it on the original path. That will get you nowhere.

Detours on the Road of Life

If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, you have a destination. We often refer to that throughout this book, and in life, as your destiny.

From an eternal perspective, we know what our destiny is to be and that it involves being in God’s presence forever—worshipping Him and working for Him in our eternal state. That is our eternal destiny.

But each of us also has a time-bound destiny here on Earth. I call this our historical destiny. It is the unique purpose you and I have been created for in order to fulfill.

God has a plan for you. He has a plan for your life. He has a purpose for your existence. The reason why you were not taken to heaven the moment after you were converted is because there is a purpose on the earth; He desires you to live out your destiny. Your destiny is not just to go through the motions day-in and day-out. It is a God-designed stamp on your soul that involves the use of your time, talents, and treasures for His glory and other people’s good for the advancement of His kingdom. As you fulfill your destiny, you receive the satisfaction and contentment that come from living out your calling. You receive the peace that come from purpose.

 

Rarely though does God ever take someone to their destiny without taking them on at least one detour, or two, or ten, or one hundred. It is the one-in-a-million Christian who gets to go from point A to B to C and straight on to Z. Most often, God takes you from A to F to D to R to B to Q, and so on. You never know which letter He is pulling you toward next.

As people, we like to plan. We make our itineraries when we travel. We keep a log of our schedule on a calendar app. We appreciate the efficiency of moving forward steadily. We would never plan chaos and detours into our life on purpose. And yet that seems to be God’s modus operandi—His default mode for guiding us.

This is because it is in our detours that we become developed for our destiny.

Tony Evans, Detours: The Unpredictable Path to Your Destiny (Nashville, TN: B&H Books, 2017), 1–4.


We have just completed a Bible study to guide your group into meditating on and applying these truths. Detours is our Bible Study based on Dane Ortlund’s book by the same name. It consists of 7 lessons with ready-to-use questions suitable for groups. It can be purchased on Amazon and is also available as part of Good Questions Have Groups Talking Subscription Service.