It’s 9 PM and I’m sitting on a bus with 18 people and we’re not moving. We’re on the road trying to get to our hotel. It’s been over 15 hours of flying in and out of airports. We are tired and we just want to get to the hotel and have dinner before bed. But traffic is telling us otherwise and we are in a new city and feel stuck.
We had no other option but to take another route. But this new route was also difficult. Cars were everywhere, pedestrians were on the move, and narrow roads made it difficult to navigate between two lanes. But after much sweat and perseverance, we finally got to the hotel.
This was not our plan but this is what happened. We dropped off our things in the room and raced to dinner. Exhausted and overextended we ate and greeted one another. Then we said goodnight hoping for a good night's rest despite the new time change. My travel group experienced a detour but we finally did reach our destination.
Have you ever had to deal with a driving detour in your life? I suspect you have. It’s one thing to deal with detours while driving but what about life detours? How do you work through plans that have unexpectedly changed?
Christmas is a time of the year when we don’t want to think about detours. We want things to be perfect. The perfect tree. The perfect decorations. The perfect gift. The perfect outfit. The perfect dinner gathering. The last thing we’re thinking about is a detour, but when you look at the Christmas narrative stories, detours jump off the page.
This makes us think, maybe detours are part of God's plan.
Mary didn’t know she was going to be chosen to bear the Savior of the world. She was thinking about a wedding. But God called her to give birth to Jesus.
Elizabeth and Zechariah were in their older years, yet, God was telling them it was time to have the long-awaited and prayed-for baby. God called them to be the parents of John
Joseph was planning a wedding for Mary but then he finds out she’s pregnant and plans to divorce her, but God calls him to take Mary as his wife.
The Magi followed a star to find Jesus and then being warned in a dream did not return to King Herod and went on another route.
Detours. We don’t like them. We don’t understand them and when they come we can get angry, bitter, and frustrated over it. Yet what if the detour in your life is part of God’s plan?
The changed job, the delayed marriage or pregnancy, moving to a new city, a broken relationship, a health issue, the unexpected you fill in the blank is what we need to embrace rather than trying to cancel or erase it.
What am I talking about?
If Joseph and Mary didn’t go through with God’s plan for their life, they would have missed being part of the coming and birth of Jesus.
If Elizabeth and Zachariah refused to obey God, John wouldn’t be the one to prepare people for Jesus.
If the Magi didn’t listen to the warning in their dream, then King Herod would have killed Jesus.
Perhaps we spend too much time, confused, angry, and depressed, about what happened or didn’t happen in our lives when maybe we are missing the point. Maybe we just need to embrace it. Maybe we need to re-look at the situation. Maybe we need to acknowledge that this is part of God's plan for our life.
Of course, that’s not easy when you are on the hurting side. But when time has passed, everything is settled and God does what he needs to do in our lives then we will see if the detour was good for us. Maybe we will realize that the detour was part of the plan and that a good God is not out to harm us but to help and protect us.
In the meantime, what should we do? Just like these people in the Bible, we need to exercise faith
We don’t know how it’s going to end
We don’t know where this is going.
We don’t why it’s happening
But we do know the One who knows how it will end, where it’s going and why it’s happening.
And if we exercise that kind of faith in God, perhaps like these people in the Bible, we will find Jesus. And not just find Him, but see Him and know Him. We will begin to experience the God, who provides, heals, helps, protects, forgives and delivers us from our sins. But above all, we will experience the God who loves us and who was willing to leave heaven to come to earth just to be close to us, His people.
Who knows, perhaps that’s the whole point of the detour in our lives. Not to make our lives harder but point us to something greater. Perhaps that is the whole point of Christmas too. . . to find and experience Jesus.