By: Dr. Tony Evans
Part of my role as pastor involves mentoring and counseling. With a fairly large church, you can imagine the number of calls I get. I’m grateful to have the opportunity to guide members through various situations in life. I can honestly say I enjoy this aspect of being a pastor immensely.
Not too long ago, one of the men from the church came over to my home to meet with me. He had been going through a rough time. As he sat in my family room, head hung low, he lifted his eyes to mine and said, “Pastor, I feel as if my detour has met another detour, and they got married and had a baby.” In other words, he felt as he were running into detour after detour after detour and that the detours merely kept replicating and multiplying rather than taking him anywhere meaningful.
It is easy to feel that way when God is taking you to your destiny. As I mentioned before, God rarely ever moves you from where you are to where He wants you to be without taking you on a road trip first. He doesn’t go from A to B to C. He goes from A to Z to T to R to F to D, meandering you to your destiny. Before you can ever get to where God wants you to be, He has to do some twists and turns. This is because in life, as it is often on the road, detours exist because construction is taking place. When you are on a highway and there is a detour, it is usually because workers are trying to fix, build, correct, or improve something.
Similarly, God will take us on a detour because He is constructing something in our lives as well. Granted, detours are anything but convenient. They take you out of the way. They are longer than you originally had planned to travel. But they are necessary. God is more interested in your development than your arrival. He cares more for your character than your comfort, your purity than your productivity.
There will be suffering. There will be sacrifice. It may come in different shapes, sizes, and forms, but it will come. Negative repercussions follow those who live by faith.
I want us to look at ways you can use to help you determine and confirm that you truly are on a detour, rather than simply experiencing a spot of bad luck. How can you know that this is a God-ordained detour rather than things just aren’t working out for you right now? How can you discern that you are not under the circumstances of normal life and consequences but rather in a situation that God Himself has guided you into?
There are several ways you can know this. I want to start with the reason for the suffering you may be experiencing. If and when you are suffering for doing good rather than doing bad—we also call that being persecuted for righteousness—you can know that you are in God’s plan of a detour.
If you are a serious believer and you are making decisions based on what God wants over what you or even your friends or the society in general wants, the Bible says you can bet your bottom dollar that there will be persecution. There will be suffering. There will be sacrifice. It may come in different shapes, sizes, and forms, but it will come. Negative repercussions follow those who live by faith.
In fact, if you never experience negative repercussions in your life because of godly decisions, then that could be an indication that you are not living solidly as a Christian. The Bible says clearly that those who make their choices based on their faith (who desire to live godly) will be persecuted. Everyone is not going to be your friend if you are serious about Jesus. This is because you will have to make choices that go against the grain. When you march to a different drumbeat, you walk out of step with the cadence of this world order.
I’ve gotten calls from people who have literally been fired from jobs because they refused to compromise on a deal, or go along with a program that was not morally upright. They made a decision for righteousness, and there was a price tag that had to be paid.
So let me tell you up front—I would love for you to visit my church, or listen to me on the radio, or pick up a book I’ve penned, and have it be full of me sharing how to come get your blessings in life. I would love to be able to tell you that nothing will ever go wrong in your life, especially if you follow after God with all your heart. But I’d be lying. I’d be telling a fib. I’d be spinning a tale because Scripture says the exact opposite. The “name it and claim it” we find in God’s Word looks very differently than the one purported in pulpits all over our land. If you name a godly life in Christ Jesus, you can be sure to claim persecutions. That’s what the Bible says. And that’s what you can count on.
Daniel got thrown into the lions’ den because he wouldn’t compromise on the job.
Paul was thrown in prison.
Joseph was left in a pit.
Stephen was stoned.
Meshach, Shadrach, and Abednego got tossed into a fiery furnace for refusing to bow to an idol. They suffered the effects of their decision to not compromise their faith. It is unfortunate today how few Christians are willing to bear consequences for their commitment. Too many believers today are moving along as cultural Christians, or convenient Christians—not so many are seriously committed Christians.
The most critical test you will ever face is the test for suffering when you did nothing wrong. When you do exactly what God has told you to do and you have to pay a price tag for it, you are paying a penalty for righteousness’ sake. You are on an intended detour that will test and strengthen both your character and your resolve, if you will let it.
This article is an excerpt from the book Detours: The Unpredictable Path to Your Destiny by Tony Evans.
Dr. 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.