Detours: The Unpredictable Path to Your Destiny

Detours (B & H Books, 2017)

Detours: The Unpredictable Path to Your Destiny is the most recent book from Dr. Evans, founding and senior pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas.  The word detour implies there’s  a destination, or destiny.  Specifically, destiny involves bringing glory to God as “people come into contact with Him through our words, spirit, emotions, or actions.”  And it’s a normative reality that a life of faith includes detours.  In fact, Dr. Evans notes, detours are God’s modus operandi- His default mode for guiding us.  Furthermore, whether we like it or not, God designed detours for our good.  That realization enables us to take trusting steps of faith.

Yet, breaking us of our own ambitions and independence signals a painful process.  However, we need to praise God in our pain, even if that praise consists of a faint word falling off our parched lips.  For God uses tests to reveal and accurately diagnose the condition of our heart.  As a result, a test always brings truth to the surface.  Thus, that allows growth to occur in a spirit of honesty.  God loves us too much to let us keep walking down the wrong path or in the wrong direction.  The key, then, to making it through testing = intimacy with the Lord.

When your preparation meets God’s purpose, you’re ready to move from detour to destiny.  In addition, once God’s prepared and developed you – even broken you- God’s providence comes out of nowhere- suddenly!  Dr. Evans describes God’s providence as a “word punctuated by truth and postulated by accuracy.”  Consequently, looking through the lens of providence enables you to experience the victorious Christian life and abundance Christ died to provide.  But, you never see all there is to see when dealing with the providence of God.  And the things you do see often don’t connect.

Even so, God brings harmony to discord and turns disappointment into destiny.  Maintaining the right perspective keeps you going despite life’s circumstances.  Then, when evil inevitably shows up, we need to place God in the equation for good to come out of it.  Also, as Dr. Evans points out, God doesn’t just work around negative things, God works in the negative thing.  Furthermore, sometimes you need negative potential in your life experiences to take your further than you’d go on your own.  Dr. Evans concludes with these final comments on your unpredictable path:

“Your destiny and kingdom purpose often involve both a hookup and a hope to people beyond yourself.  Look for both as God guides you.  Pray for both as you wait patiently.  Sharpen your faith, hone your skills, seek His face, and He will move you from detour to destiny.  Keep your eyes wide open . . .”

Negative potential in your experience

“Sometimes you need some negative potential in your experience to take you further than you would go on your own.”- Dr. Tony Evans

In Chapter 16 (“The Path of Detours”) of Detours, Dr. Tony Evans observes that while everyone appears to want a blessing, few want development.  Yet, for Joseph to fulfill his role as second-in-command in Egypt, God first needed to take him deeper and develop him.

Therefore, where God’s currently placed you is part of God’s purpose and plan for you.  In addition, part of that purpose and plan involves perfecting the art of waiting.  As a result, Dr. Evans lists three signs from God that you’re waiting well:

  1. God comes out of nowhere.  He brings something into your life that catches you just when you were ready to throw in the towel.  While God doesn’t change your situation, He lets you know He’s there.
  2. God gives you the strength to keep going in your situation.
  3. God changes you in your situation, although that situation remains the same.  As Tony puts it, “He [God] doesn’t give you a second wind, but He keeps you from getting weary when you walk.”

In conclusion, as Dorothy realized at the end of The Wizard of Oz, sometimes where you currently find yourself is as good as where you’re trying to go.  Dr. Evans notes the importance of this lesson.  He writes:

“When you truly come to realize this — along with the value of who you are and the worth of those around you — you discover your destiny.  In recognizing how your life sovereignly merges and intersects with others at God’s divinely right time — each day, every day — you not only bring Him glory, but you also bring benefit, purpose, and joy to all.”

Today’s question:  What negative potential in your experience propelled you during your desert, land between time?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “Cast off one’s chains”

The key to your spiritual success

“The key to your spiritual success is focus (emphasis author’s).”- Dr. Tony Evans

As Dr. Tony Evans concludes Chapter 13 of Detours, he reminds you of the need to maintain focus on the right perspective as you meander though detours to your destiny.  Even though you quite possibly feel removed from purpose, passion, and peace, you may be only a step away from your destiny.

For example, Dr. Evans notes, every time we see Joseph, we see God with him as well- without fail.  God allowed, approved, and made Himself visible within everything that happened in Joseph’s life.  The author applies this to us:

“If you take God seriously, you can never be a victim to your circumstances because your circumstances wouldn’t be your circumstances without God allowing it to be used to take you to your destiny. . . . If Satan can keep God out of the equation of your understanding, you will lose perspective on the treadmill of life and only see the sweat of the uphill climb.”

As a result, Joseph always kept God in the equation.  Therefore, when Joseph confronted his brothers to calm their fears about their sinful actions, He invoked God’s name five times.  As with Joseph, opening your heart to God opens your eyes as well.

Life stripped Joseph of everything one imagines losing.  Except one thing- his destiny.  Like Joseph, your destiny sits securely in the hand of God.

In conclusion, align your perspective with the Lord’s.  God loves to surprise, as Dr. Evans describes:

“God loves to flip things on a dime.  He loves to operate in the surprise of ‘suddenlies.’  Because when He does, He is the only One who can get the credit and the glory.”

Today’s question: What Scriptures make focus the key to your spiritual success?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “Success is Who you have”

Using the negative to produce a positive

“Providence includes using the negative to produce a positive.”- Dr. Tony Evans

“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.”- Genesis 50:20 (NASB)

In Chapter 12 (“The Perfection of Detours”) of Detours, Dr. Tony Evans concentrates on the word meant.  The past participle of “to mean,” meant can be defined as “to intend for a particular purpose and destination.”

Joseph’s brothers meant evil toward him,  However, as Genesis 50:20 indicates, God meant something entirely different.  But God– two very powerful words.  As Dr. Evans notes, we need to pay attention when we come across “but God” in Scripture.  For what comes next usually changes the entire situation.  Especially when “meant” gets added.

Therefore, when we think about God working things out for our good, that includes working directly in the negative thing.  Dr. Evans explains:

“He redeems the bad intentions of someone who may have hurt you on purpose by intervening in you to twist that thing to work for your good.”  Dr. Evans continues, “He can even use someone who means you harm to take you, mold you, develop you, strengthen you, or redirect you to your purpose and destiny.”

God brings harmony to discord and turns a disappointment into a destiny.  Yet, God cares about more than our circumstantial deliverance.  He’s concerned about our spiritual development.

In conclusion, Dr. Evans describes what happens when you understand providence:

” . . . you start looking to see what God is doing. . . . opening your eyes to see where He is moving.  You start operating on a different level of understanding when you observe the patterns of God’s providential maneuvering.”

Today’s question: How is God using the negative to produce a positive in your life?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “I didn’t sign up for this”

A leash around our souls- unforgiveness

“Many of us are being hindered from our destiny because we are being held hostage by a leash around our souls called unforgiveness.  This leash keeps jerking us back and jerking us back.”- Dr. Tony Evans

Dr. Tony Evans begins Chapter 9 (“The Pardon of Detours”) of Detours as he notes that many of us still feel loaded down by past pain.  As a result, that pain creates a roadblock to our destination.  Specifically, unforgiveness hinders us from arriving at our destiny.  Unforgiveness includes:

  • holding on to past pain, hurts, and grudges
  • the weightiness of regret, remorse, and revenge
  • the one thing above all else blocking God’s movement in your life

For example, the issue of forgiveness comprised a critical component Joseph needed to deal with.  Hence, Joseph learned how to accept the past in alignment with God’s providence.  Yet, Joseph’s pain obviously remained.

Therefore, we must correctly define forgiveness.  If we define forgiveness wrongly, we never truly experience its benefits.  Consequently, forgiveness means choosing to delete the offense rather than base your action on how you feel at any given moment.  Dr. Evans adds:

“True forgiveness is setting yourself free from the bitterness of wrath and anger. . . . It doesn’t mean you excuse it [the wrong] or even pretend like it didn’t happen.  It also doesn’t mean you ignore it. . . . But what forgiveness does mean is that you make a decision to no longer relate to the person or people, or even yourself, based on the infraction.”

Today’s question: Do you relate to the phrase ‘leash around our souls’?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “Forgiveness- a beautiful word?”

Luck, chance, or happenstance

“Luck, chance, or happenstance. . . . as a believer in God, none of these words should even be in your vocabulary. . . . Providence is the hand of God moving in the glove of history.”- Dr. Tony Evans

In Chapter 8 (“The Plan of Detours”) of Detours, Dr. Tony Evans examines another hint that you may be nearing the end of a God-ordained detour.

3.  When God surprises you.  Perhaps, Dr. Evans notes, you’re at a point in your adversity where you feel forgotten, overlooked, or even skipped by God.  In addition, you pray, wait, and hope for His intervention- to no avail.

The good news?  After God’s prepared and developed you- maybe even broken you- He’s ready to surprise you!  However, don’t call that luck, chance, or happenstance.  God’s surprise = providence.

Furthermore, as God brings you out of your detour to your destiny, He transforms your soul and everything about you.  And the key word for how God works?- suddenly.  Dr. Evans explains:

“Suddenly is when God surprises you — when He comes out of nowhere — when you couldn’t have planned it or created it yourself.  Suddenly.  You think your are stuck somewhere, but then suddenly God shows you you’ve already arrived.”

As a result, Dr. Evans advises, never get hung up on how things appear.  Whether your current reality is good or bad, that reality isn’t always what you see.  Like Joseph, on your detour you need to learn to view life through a long-term lens.

Therefore, we need to stop following human ways and methods.  They contradict the ways of God.  God provides the perfect timing for your divine hookup, most likely sudden.

In conclusion, God takes a long time with you on your detour in order to take you deeper on the inside first.  Thus, He wants to sustain the destiny in store for you.  Dr. Evans explains:

“You can’t place a divine destiny on a shallow soul.  The higher your mountains, the deeper your valleys will seem.  And difficult roads often lead to the most magnificent destinations.”

Today’s question: Have you ever viewed your life events as luck, chance, or happenstance?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: the latest Short Meditation- “Lost in a sea of faces?”

The most critical test

“The most critical test you will ever face is the test for suffering when you did nothing wrong.”- Dr. Tony Evans

In Chapter 5 (“The Proof of Detours”) of Detours, Dr. Tony Evans notes that when we run into detour after detour, they seem to replicate and multiply rather than taking us anywhere meaningful.  Yet, Dr. Evans states, detours are necessary:

“Granted, detours are anything but convenient. . . . 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.”

In addition, Dr. Evans describes several ways you follow to help you  determine and confirm the existence of a God-ordained detour.  Dr. Evans presents the first way today.

1.  Suffering when you did nothing wrong.  Your struggle is the exact place God wants you to be.  The author explains this concept:

“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. . . . on an intended detour that will test and strengthen both your character and  your resolve if you will let it.”

In conclusion, Dr. Evans states, removal from all hope reveals the true constitution of your heart.  Do you throw in the towel and give up, or press on in obedience to the Lord.  As God’s chosen child, He desires you to set a high standard, reflecting Him in your life.  Adversity molds and shapes your character, as Dr. Evans writes:

“The greater the calling the deeper the pit.  The higher the destiny, the tighter the shackles.  The more glorious the future, the more persecuted the present.”

Today’s question: What defines the most critical test you’ve faced?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “Look for Him in your detour”

How much of God comes out?

“When you are going through a trial, and you feel the pressure of life caving in around you, how much of God comes out?”- Dr. Tony Evans

In Chapter 4 (“The Purifying of Detours”) of Detours, Dr. Tony Evans covers two additional aspects with regard to detour patterns.  He discusses the first of those two aspects today.

2.  Detours and training.  Essentially, God’s training methods include testing, trials, and detours.  For our training to work effective results, we must not allow our circumstances to compromise our relationship with God.  As the author explains, use such times to draw near to God:

“Yes, it is easy to get mad at God when you face a trial or trouble in your life.  But these are the times when you are to chase after God like you’ve never done before.  These are the times when you are to draw near to Him.”

However, Dr. Evans observes, most people fill themselves with entertainment, distractions, bitterness, etc. rather than God.  But for your detour to take you to your destiny, you must draw near to God.

Therefore, the author stresses, “the key to making it during your season of testing . . . is found in your intimacy with the Lord. . . . There must be a spiritual relationship that drives you, particularly when life has gone left.”

Because training for greater things always takes place in lesser things, you need to be faithful, content, and responsible in your current situation.  Gaining enough experience in your current situation prepares you for God’s ultimate destiny.  As a result, those around you see Jesus in you.

Today’s question: During your desert, transitional time, how much of God comes out?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “Maximize the location”

Development- a painful process

“Development . . . often a painful process of breaking us out of our own ambitions and independence so we can live a life of surrender and obedience before God.”- Dr. Tony Evans

In Chapter 2 (“The Pain of Detours”) of Detours, Tony Evans reminds us sometimes God asks us to take the next step without revealing our destination.  Hence, when we understand the normative reality that living a life of faith involves detours, we’re more willing to trust God.  We believe He’ll reveal the rationale and reason as time goes on.

Yet, something curious occurs when God’s ready to move you to the next level.  Things actually get worse before they get better!  As a result, God creates detours in order to:

  • perform needed construction on the pathways of your soul
  • chip away at parts that don’t fit where He’s taking you
  • strengthen the things not yet ready for your destiny
  • roadblock you several times before reaching your destination- depending on your response

Furthermore, seeing purpose through the pain enables us to bear up under our pain with a great deal more dignity.  Sometimes that pain involves losing something we treasure.  In fact, Dr. Evans observes, often the very thing you fear losing the most is the thing you lose.  Until life strips you of your own self-sufficiency, you lean toward self-reliance.  When you hit rock bottom, Dr. Evans states, you discover that God is the rock at the bottom.

In conclusion, Dr. Evans offers these words of encouragement:

“God has a plan for you.  Try not to fight the detours that are designed to take you to its culmination.  Praise Him in the pain, even if it’s just a faint word that falls off your parched lips.  He knows what He is doing,  He has great things up ahead for you.”

Today’s question: What Bible verses strengthen your spiritual development during your desert, land between time?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “Never mistake the hand of God”

Authentic hope in your spirit

“In order to arrive at an authentic hope in your spirit, accepting your detours is necessary.”- Dr. Tony Evans

As Tony Evans concludes Chapter 1 of Detours, he notes a key component in fulfilling your destiny involves understanding your detours.  Too often, however, we fail to understand our detours.  As a result, we view them in a wrong light.  With our vision obscured, we create room in our hearts for impatience, bitterness, regret, and doubt to grow.

Therefore, instead of allowing our detour to produce growth, that detour actually sets us back.  Also, setbacks set us up for more detours- a vicious cycle.  Hence, God brings our destiny to fruition only when He knows we’re able to handle it on a spiritual, emotional, and physical level.

Scripture contains many examples of destinies reached by detour.  Yet, God’s approach differs significantly with ours.  Typically, we give a plan or projection to someone right before we plan to carry it out.  Unlike us, God supplies a glimpse of our destiny long before we’re prepared and ready to actualize it.

Consequently, we need patience and authentic hope to reach our destiny- both learned traits.  Furthermore, detours consist of good and bad happening concurrently.  Dr. Evans explains:

“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.”

Today’s question: What Bible verses anchor authentic hope in your spirit?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “Development- a painful process”