Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Have you ever felt like you are on a perpetual detour? You know where you want to go, maybe you even feel like God is leading you there, yet somehow you’ve ventured on the “scenic route” loaded with one detour after the next. Are you lost? Has God forgotten about you altogether? Maybe you’ve begun to question whether or not you will arrive at your destination at all.
That was exactly how I felt a few months ago when God taught me a very expensive, and frustrating lesson. And even though I know I often learn best through failures, I couldn’t help but question my circumstances. Couldn’t God have taught me the same lesson in an easier and less expensive way? Sure, He took me from point A to point B, but did He really have to take me to Q, S, W and Z first?
But then I read Exodus 13:17 - 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.
The Israelites couldn’t see what lay ahead, but God could. More importantly, God saw their heart—He knew their breaking point and what it was going to take to turn their emerging faith into victorious confidence. Each day, as they traveled through the desert, they learned who God was. When the cloud raised in the morning, signaling it was time to depart, they learned to rely on and trust in God’s guidance. When Manna rained down from the sky, they learned God would provide. When they crossed the Jordan River, they learned no obstacle was too great when God stood beside them.
Maybe you are in a valley right now, or wandering through a desert waste land and it’s hard to see God’s hand amidst the frustration. Certainly some of God’s detours are meant to strengthen and challenge us, but others are a direct result of His mercy and compassion.
With the Israelites, God knew what lay ahead, and even more importantly, how much the Israelites could handle, and He knew that they were in no condition, spiritually or emotionally, to face fierce opposition from the Philistines. And so, in His infinite mercy, He led them in a gentler, albeit longer, direction.
How many times has God done this for me? Perhaps there was some hidden danger in that job I so desperately wanted. Perhaps that house I longed to buy had structural damage that would inevitably drain my finances. Perhaps that ministry opportunity that appeared so perfect yet continually evaded my grasp would have led to spiritual weakness or distraction. Who knows? I don’t, but God does. And really, that is all that matters. In my limited, human understanding, I will always be stuck in the here and now, but I serve a God who can see yesterday, today and tomorrow all at once and who is constantly at work behind the scenes to lead me towards that good, narrow path. My job is not to figure it all out, because I never will side of heaven, but instead, to trust in the person and nature of Jesus Christ, knowing that He will indeed perfect the plans He has for me.
About Jennifer:Jennifer Slattery is a novelist, columnist and freelance writer living in midwest with her husband of fifteen years and their thirteen year old daughter. Find out more about her and her writing at http://jenniferslatterylivesoutloud.com.