by Kevin Burton
One of the ways I tried to witness to my late father was to encourage him to listen to the radio ministry of Dr. Tony Evans.
Evans leads The Urban Alternative out of Dallas, Texas. Evans is a dynamic speaker. I thought my father might be tiring of my dime store preaching and needed to hear a different voice.
After weeks of my invitations my father finally listened to Dr. Evans. I think the show was on at 9:30 at night on our local Christian station, WFCJ, Dayton, Ohio.
That night Evans spoke on the theme of honor your father and mother. The next morning dad mentioned that he had tuned in.
“Sorry dad,” I said. “Tony had an off night.”
If you’re still with me, let me mention that Dr. Evans is still going strong in Dallas, but he had another off day recently.
I’m sure you will agree, when you read the following e-mail message I got from him Wednesday, about heavenly detours:
“When I’m driving, the last thing I want is to have to take an out-of-the-way detour. When I see the orange signs and arrows, I often get frustrated. I just wanted to get to my destination as quickly as possible, and now I am being inconvenienced,” Evans wrote.
“Detours are typically unexpected inconveniences which may cause a speed bump in your emotions. They let you know the road you are traveling is no longer available. And now, because of the detour, we 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.”
“But detours are necessary if any improvement is going to be made on the roads we travel. Or if a wreck is going to be cleaned up or a hazard avoided,” Evans wrote. “Detours are designed for our own good, regardless of how we view or feel about them. They are good things that often feel bad.”
“Sometimes we experience spiritual detours in our lives. God leads us in a path other than what we had planned. These divinely-designed detours are not bad things. They are positive interruptions designed to divert us down a better path so that we might experience everything He has for us on the way to our destination.”
“All of us like to plan. We appreciate the efficiency of moving forward steadily. We would never plan chaos and detours into our life on purpose. And yet those detours are often God’s way of guiding us,” Evans wrote.
“Never forget that it is often in our detours that we become developed to fulfill our destiny.”
Just in case you haven’t figured this out or are reading Page 7 for the first time, I am joking about Dr. Evans having off days. He just delivered messages I didn’t want to hear at the time.
My family and I have had a detour in the last few days that I haven’t handled well. I have written about it a little and will get back to it probably.
For now, let’s look back on a time I was handling things better.
Years ago and I was planning a trip to Lima, Ohio by Greyhound bus to see a friend. I had to go from Columbus, west to Dayton and then north to Lima.
If you’re familiar with Greyhound, you know even their scheduled routes feel like detours.
But in this case my Columbus bus was late getting to Dayton and I missed the connecting bus. The bus heading to Lima, headed north without me. If I remember correctly it meant my having a four-hour wait in Dayton.
If something like that happened to me now, you probably wouldn’t want to be around me. But I was in a better frame of mind in those days. I was more yielded to the will of God, more willing to accept detours.
So I told myself God must have me here for some reason and I started looking for that reason.
The reason found me.
There was a small group of students from Cedarville College, a nearby Christian school. They were there to witness to people at the bus station.
I let them know I was already saved, but we talked for a bit about their situation. They were about to graduate and were apprehensive about what might be in store for them after college.
I told them what a great school Cedarville is and that employers would probably fight over Cedarville grads. We didn’t talk long, but I was able to provide encouragement to some young people eager to do God’s work.
That was then, this is now and I need to find my way back to that place. Not the bus station, but the place where I can welcome God’s detours.