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”

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”

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?”

Look for Him in your detour

“So if God is not ready to deliver you from it [your detour], look for Him in it.”- Dr. Tony Evans

“But the LORD was with Joseph and extended kindness to him.  He granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden.”- Genesis 39:21

Dr. Tony Evans begins Chapter 6 (“The Presence of Detours”) of Detours with a discussion of the second way to discern you’re on a detour designed by God.

2.  God shows you His presence.  God shows you His favor and joins you in the pit.  Even though you’re most likely praying, “Lord, get me out of this detour,” God’s timing might be different than yours.  Therefore, if God isn’t ready to deliver you from your pit, look for Him to deliver you in your pit.

When God grants you favor in the midst of a trial, test, or detour, that possibly indicates you need to stay on that detour.  In other words, it isn’t the right time for delivery.

In addition, Dr. Evans takes a look at a pattern God often uses to show His presence.  As a slave in Potiphar’s house, Joseph rose to be in charge of everything.  The Bible tells us the Lord was with Joseph.  Later, as Joseph languished in jail, the jailer put him in charge.  Again, God showed up.  dr. Evans explains:

“When the Lord shows up twice in your life in a similar fashion, pay attention. . . . It is god confirming . . . doing this on purpose because He is giving you a double witness. . . . Look for how God might be speaking to you by doing or allowing something twice in your life.  Ask Him for wisdom to discern His hand of favor and what it means.”

In conclusion, God’s presence produces calm amid life’s turbulence- even when you remain in your detour.

Today’s question: What Bible verses or Christian books/songs help you look for Him in your detour?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “On the precipice of disaster”

Maximize the location

“Far too often, we are chasing our destiny so much that we forget to maximize the location where we are.”- Dr. Tony Evans

As Dr. Tony Evans concludes Chapter 4 of Detours, he completes his discussion of detours and training.  Then, he moves on to detours and temptation.

Dr. Evans exhorts you to always, always be faithful where God has currently placed you.  You never know when God inspires someone else’s mind and heart to move you further along into your destiny.  Specifically, you have a right now destiny.  Dr. Evans explains:

“Whether we are in a preparation stage of destiny, a connection and networking stage of destiny, or simply a waiting stage of destiny — God’s purpose for your lives is always a current purpose.  It’s a right now destiny.”

Therefore, if we constantly await something greater, we lose both contentment and gratitude for the place God has us right now.  Regardless of the situation you’re in, focus on your relationship with God.  You put less pressure on that situation.  That, in turn, keeps you from collapsing under a pile of purpose.

3.  Detours and temptation.  Dr. Evans notes that sometimes detours confuse us.  Because they look irrational and illogical, detours cause us to question and doubt.  We see only the pit and the problems, not where the detour takes us.

As a result, we need to distinguish between Satan’s use of detours and Jesus’ use.  Dr. Evans observes:

“While Satan uses temptations to derail us from our destiny, God uses those same temptations to detour us to our destiny.  Our responsibility is not to yield.”

The “purifying grace of acceptance and the power of peace” support you in living out your current and future destiny.

Today’s question: What Scriptures strengthen you as you maximize the location?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “The most critical test”

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”

The hot iron of His molding grace

“God will place the hot iron of His molding grace on the wrinkles of our souls when He needs to.”- Dr. Tony Evans

Dr. Tony Evans concludes Chapter 3 of Detours as he completes his discussion of detours and testing.  He notes that Joseph could have blamed his brothers for selling him to the Ishmaelite slave traders.  Yet, in time, Joseph saw God’s hand of guidance and direction.  Reflecting on his journey to Egypt, Joseph said God brought Him there.  He didn’t blame the hand of man.

Therefore, Dr. Evans notes, “if you . . . miss seeing what God is doing, you will miss the divine purpose of the detour. . . . So never think that just because it’s people you see that it isn’t God directing behind the scenes.”

However, our emotions yoyo up and own.  Doubt = a default response to life’s trials.  But God is a big God, able to handle our words.  In those times  we face feeling of doubt in the darkness of the deepest pit.  Then we must remember God uses those tests and trials- even detours- to:

  • help your unbelief and give you trust
  • open your eyes to see spiritually beyond the physical
  • show you what He wants to improve

In conclusion, Dr. Evans relates a true story of the loggerhead turtle.  The average loggerhead turtle is thirty-five inches in length and weighs around 300 pounds.  In this story, a female turtle climbed up on a sand dune to lay her eggs.  After she did, she became disoriented and started walking away from the water.  Rangers saw this.  They put shackles on her, tied up her legs, and flipped her on her back

Next, they attached a chain to the shackles.  Then they dragged her upside down back to the water with a four-wheeler.  As Tony observes, the rangers jerked around and messed with the turtle.  But the rangers did what was necessary to get her where she needed to go.

Like the loggerhead turtle, we feel jerked around and messed with when adversity hits.  We yell in our hearts at God.  However, Dr. Evans reminds us:

“God answers, often too quietly for us to hear over our own shouts, ‘I’m taking you exactly where you need to be.  Trust Me.’ ”

Today’s question: How have you experienced the hot iron of His molding grace?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “How much of God comes out?”

Never mistake the hand of God

“When you are going through a test, never mistake the hand of God for the hand of man.”- Dr. Tony Evans

“God left him [Hezekiah] to himself, in order to test him and see what was really in his heart.”- 2 Chronicles 32:31

In Chapter 3 (“The Pain of Detours”) of Detours, Dr. Tony Evans notes that sometimes we gain the wisdom to choose our own detours.  Most of the time, however, we get caught up just trying to push through our own problem.  As a result, we fail to recognize how a detour actually takes us farther, faster.

God rarely takes us directly from our current location to His planned destiny for us.  Dr. Evans explains:

“God rarely take us from where we are to where He wants us to go.  More often than not, He disrupts the normal flow and directs us down a beaten path made of unexpected curves, clefts, and challenges.  And most often He does this without our consent.”

Detours always include the unexpected.  Yet, Dr. Evans observes, patterns routinely show up as well.  In the next chapters, the author discusses a couple of predictable scenarios.  The first scenario- detours always include a test.

1.  Detours and testing.  Dr. Evans begins with a definition of test from a biblical context.  In this context, a test or trial can be defined as:

“An adverse circumstance either created or allowed by God in order to reveal to us the pathway of development in preparation for His purpose.”

One reason God uses testing is to reveal what’s in our hearts.  Therefore, Tony adds, “trials call your faith to the witness stand to testify to the condition of your soul.”  You must know the truth so you can address it, learn from it, and grow.  Test reveal an accurate heart diagnosis.

But, as Dr. Evans continues next, “never mistake the hand of God for the hand of man” when going through a test.

Today’s question: During your desert, land between time, have you mistaken the hand of God for the hand of man?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “The hot iron of His molding grace”