Life's Detours

I don’t like detours! I am a thinker, a planner, and a true Type A personality. Detours annoy me! If I am running errands, I know the route I will take. The errands will be in order for the sake of time and efficiency. If I am taking a trip, I will use a GPS that ensures the best route.

Type A or not, most of us view detours as nothing more than time-consuming nuisances, but something happened recently that has challenged my perspective. I had taken my late wife’s parents to a little mountain church in western North Carolina. The pastor asked my father-in-law, a former pastor and missionary, if he would like to say a few words. In his brief remarks he mentioned Paul’s shipwreck; and as he did, my brain went to work.

For those of you who know the story, you remember that the Apostle Paul was headed to Rome because he had appealed to Caesar. The ship’s captain did not listen to Paul’s warning, and the ship went down on the coast of Malta. A shattered, sunken ship and months on the island of Malta were not in anyone’s plan. However, if you read Chapter 28 of Acts, you might conclude that the detour was not of human origin. Was their detour God’s plan all along?

We have all had some major detours in life that can be fitted into the classification of a shipwreck. Some were products of bad choices. Others came through no fault of our own. Try as we might, we may never see the good in a particularly difficult or devastating detour.

However, in the story of Paul’s shipwreck, as he was warming himself by a fire, a snake bit him. He shook it off with no ill effects. God used the shipwreck and the snakebite to get the attention of the Maltese. I believe God caused the ship’s captain to ignore Paul’s warnings because he wanted to use Paul to help the people of Malta, both physically and spiritually!

Could it be that God wants to use us as well? If our answer is yes, we may need to adjust our perspectives on detours.

Stan Means
Elder Source Senior Ministries
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