Detours: The Unpredictable Path to Your Destiny

Detours: The Unpredictable Path to Your Destiny

by Tony Evans

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Overview

God has a plan for your life. 
 

More often than not, it’s a detour, one that can leave you feeling temporarily stalled and slowed down. Which nobody likes. But detours are necessary if any improvements are going to be made on the paths we travel. Or if any wreck is going to be cleaned up or a hazard avoided. Detours are designed for our own good, regardless of how we view or feel about them.
 
Detours are a good thing that often feels bad.
 
Tony knows a thing or two about detours, and one of the things he knows for certain is that God works through detours to bring about His blessing. To deliver you to the place He has created just for you. Yet what we often do is try as hard as we can to work our own way to the circumstances we believe are best for us. 
 
Using examples from the life of Joseph, Tony will leave readers with answers to the following questions:

  • How do you find the destiny God has designed for your life?
  • How can you make the most of the detours God has planned for you?
  • Is there a way to shorten a detour and speed up your progression in life?
  • What is the purpose of a detour?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781433686597
Publisher: B&H Publishing Group
Publication date: 01/01/2017
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 293,686
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range: 3 Months to 18 Years

About the Author

Tony Evans is one of the country’s most respected leaders in evangelical circles. As a pastor, teacher, author, and speaker, he serves the body of Christ through his unique ability to communicate complex theological truths through simple yet profound illustrations. While addressing the practical issues of today, Dr. Evans is known as a relevant expositor. New and veteran pastors alike regard him as a pastor of pastors and a father in the faith.

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

The Purpose of Detours

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.

Development

Part of experiencing the fullness of your destiny is in understanding your detours. Far too often we fail to understand our detours, and as a result, we wind up viewing them in a wrong light. When this happens, we give room for things like impatience, bitterness, regret, and doubt to grow. Rather than allowing the detours to produce the development we need, they actually set us back spiritually, thus setting us up with a need for more detours in order to grow. It can become a vicious cycle.

For example, when you were in school, you would have to endure academic testing. These tests let the teacher know where you stood on the material you needed to learn. If you were unable to pass these tests, then more assignments and more tests would have to be given. Have you ever known someone who "tested out" of a class or an assignment? This happened when they felt they had enough knowledge to pass the test without having to do the work. In this case, they took a test and if they scored high enough, they could skip the rest of the course.

I never "tested out" of a course, but I know people who did. Most of us have to go through the learning process — unfortunately, some of us more often than others — in order to gain mastery over what we need to know.

God is not going to bring your destiny to fruition until He knows you are able to handle it spiritually, emotionally, and physically. If you cannot handle it, you will lose it rather than use it, for His glory. That is why He focuses so intently on our development as He takes us to our destiny.

When you look at Scripture, it is full of destinies being reached by detour. When God told Israel He would take them to their destiny in Canaan, they had to cross the Red Sea in order to get there. However, He didn't take them directly to the Red Sea. Rather, He took them down south and then brought them back up before He led them across the Red Sea. In fact, because they had not yet developed in their level of faith that they needed in order to conquer the enemy in the Promised Land, they wound up wandering on a forty-year detour before ever reaching their destiny.

The timing and length of our detours in life are often dependent upon our personal choices and growth. God may have a short detour planned for us, but sometimes through our hardheadedness, stubbornness, or immaturity God extends our detour.

Moses was on a detour for forty years. He knew what God wanted him to do. God wanted him to deliver his people from slavery. Yet it took forty years in the wilderness to develop Moses into the humble and trusting servant he needed to be in order to have the mind-set, faith, and abilities to carry out the plan.

Abraham was on a twenty-five-year detour. At one point God had told him His plan for him — that He would bless nations through Abraham and make his name great. How could Abraham have thought at that time it would be twenty-five years before he would have a son? The vision and the proclamation from God to Abraham were real and vivid. It would have been odd for Abraham to believe at that point that it would be nearly three decades before he would witness the literal birth of it.

When we give a plan or projection to someone, we typically do so shortly before we plan to carry it out. Yet God is not like us and will often give us a glimpse of our destiny long before we are prepared to actualize it, as He did when He told Abraham that there would be a four-hundred-year detour in Egypt before they would reach their promised destination (Gen. 15:12–16).

The greatest apostle in the New Testament, Paul, went on a three-year detour to a desert where God removed him from the front page of culture and life in order to strengthen him, teach him, and develop him for his calling.

I could go on and on with biblical examples of detours, but I think you get the picture. Detours are often a regular part of God's plan in guiding us to our destinies.

God has a destiny for you. He has a purpose and a place He wants you to live out. But it may not happen tomorrow. You probably won't get there by going in a straight line. Patience is the primary virtue needed in order to reach your destiny.

The following is a passage speaking on "trials," but we can easily substitute the word affliction with detours and arrive at the same intended meaning:

And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions [detours], because we know that affliction [detours] produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. This hope will not disappoint. (Rom. 5:3–5)

Hope does not disappoint. Detours disappoint momentarily. But when we allow them to produce hope, God promises that hope will not disappoint. And in order to arrive at an authentic hope in your spirit, accepting your detours is necessary.

Just as your muscles will not grow stronger simply by wishful thinking, the painful process of strengthening your hope comes by detours, afflictions, and trials. Show me someone with an indomitable hope, and we will see someone who has had his or her shareof detours. I promise you this is true. Authentic hope is a learned trait.

Now, I don't mean wishful thinking or an optimistic attitude. I am referring to that level of hope that stays steady despite the storm and circumstances, which circle you in waves of chaos, testing, and pain.

Joseph's Detours

There is no person in Scripture who better illustrates the principles of detours in relationship to destiny than Joseph. His life reads like a good suspense novel; it displays like an epic film. It has twists and turns along the way. Not only that, it contains stories within stories within stories. If you didn't skip ahead to the end, you may wonder how it could ever end well along the way. But it does. Moving ahead from chapter 37 up to 50, we catch the culmination of the detours and distresses when it gives us Joseph's response to those who had served as the catalyst to his life's chaos. We read,

But Joseph said to them, "Do not be afraid, for am I in God's place? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive." (Gen. 50:19–20 nasb)

Please notice the phrase, "You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good." This insightful inclusion in Scripture gives us a clue as to the makeup of detours. They may oftentimes contain evil. They may oftentimes contain bad people. In fact, in our lives it can even be our own bad choices that set us off on a detour. In this cosmic battle of good against bad, we cannot expect to escape without coming in close contact with that which intends our harm.

Yet what we often do is stay stuck there. We suffer under the evil of people acting badly or our own bad choices producing bitterness, cynicism, hate, and stunted growth. It is only when we read the entire phrase — keeping in the part that Joseph included "but God meant it for good"— that we are able to move forward, grow, trust, and reach our destiny.

Bad and good happen concurrently in order to bring us to the place God has for you. The first and greatest lesson in detours includes recognizing this reality at a level that allows you to trust God and His hand in the midst of evil, sin, and disappointment in your life.

God is greater than all of it and will use it for good when we surrender to Him through a heart of faith, hope, forgiveness, and love.

CHAPTER 2

The Pain of Detours

I know what it is like to wait on a vision. Having been in ministry for more than four decades, I've had my fair share of the Lord giving me a dream I felt was from Him, only to have it derailed for lengths of time.

Even as I write this book, I am in the midst of one of these scenarios. It involves a piece of property God put on my heart to purchase more than a decade ago. It's a beautiful twenty-two-acre slice of heaven in the heart of south Dallas. An immaculate, colonial style home, built in the 1930s, sits on its pristine grounds. So beautiful is this home, it's been used as a setting in the film Tender Mercies.

I don't exactly know why, but when this property came on the market many years ago, my spirit wouldn't rest until I prayed through pursuing it. I knew it was mine. I knew it had a purpose. I couldn't see the purpose, but the Spirit wouldn't let me have peace until I acquired it.

Now purchasing twenty-two acres of tree-filled land, along with a house and pool, is no small decision. Especially when my wife and I still live in the same small, one-level home we have lived in for more than thirty-five years. It didn't make sense why I would pursue this property with our own personal finances rather than move my wife and me to a beautiful new home for the same price. After all, we weren't going to live on this property ourselves. But God made it plain to me that I needed to get it while it was available. And so — after praying and talking with Lois about it, and coming to an agreement that the Lord was putting it on our hearts to acquire it — we did.

Over the years, it has done many things. It has served as the location of our Crisis Pregnancy Center for our church. It has been a place for events and family outings. In fact, our granddaughter Kariss married her husband, Joshua, there not too long ago. But it wasn't until only recently when I realized what I had bought this property for so many years ago. At the time I got it, the vision for our legacy training center hadn't even been birthed. It wasn't even an embryo at that point. Because the concept had not yet been conceived, God could not tell me why I needed the property. He could only tell me that I needed it.

Since that original purchase date, I have aged into my legacy-planning years. During this time, our national ministry felt led of the Lord to launch a strategic online training program, along with localized courses, to codify my lifetime of learning. As we went through the planning stages for this training center, the twenty-two acres of land located just a stone's throw from our own home presented itself as the perfect location for these headquarters. It also gives us a wonderful and beautiful location for smaller retreat-type training events as I grow older and travel less.

God knew way back then what He wanted this land for now; and had I not acted in faith on His Spirit's prompting, it may not be available to us now. Sometimes God asks us to take the next step without showing us the destination. Living a life of faith involves detours. When we understand that this is a normative reality, we become more willing to take steps in faith while trusting that God will reveal the rationale and reason as time moves on.

(Continues…)


Excerpted from "Detours"
by .
Copyright © 2017 Tony Evans.
Excerpted by permission of B&H Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Introduction: What Is Destiny? 1

Chapter 1 The Purpose of Detours 17

Chapter 2 The Pain of Detours 27

Chapter 3 The Pattern of Detours 41

Chapter 4 The Purifying of Detours 51

Chapter 5 The Proof of Detours 63

Chapter 6 The Presence of Detours 73

Chapter 7 The Promotion of Detours 83

Chapter 8 The Plan of Detours 93

Chapter 9 The Pardon of Detours 103

Chapter 10 The Pleasure of Detours 113

Chapter 11 The Providence of Detours 125

Chapter 12 The Perfection of Detours 135

Chapter 13 The Perspective of Detours 145

Chapter 14 The Peace of Detours 155

Chapter 15 The Patience of Detours 165

Chapter 16 The Path of Detours 177

Conclusion 191

Appendix: The Urban Alternative 201

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