When Life Feels Like a Detour

When Pharaoh finally let the people go, God did not lead them along the main road that runs through Philistine territory, even though that was the shortest route to the Promised Land. God said, “If the people are faced with a battle, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” So God led them in a roundabout way through the wilderness toward the Red Sea. Thus the Israelites left Egypt like an army ready for battle.

- Exodus 13:17-18

Recently I was driving to a new place while my passenger was controlling our GPS.

When the GPS said “turn right,” I accidentally turned left. I’m awesome at following directions like that.

Immediately the voice on the phone said “Recalculating new route” and proceeded to give me new directions that I also messed up because I had already started to turn around. Impressed that I did not completely confuse the GPS as I had myself, it must have rerouted me three times before getting me back on the right track.

And if I’m honest, sometimes my life can feel a little bit like it needs some recalculating. It can feel a little bit like a mixed up detour that I hadn’t planned for and hadn’t even intended on taking.

Ever felt that way too?

Well, I know I’m not alone because there are some people in the Bible who must have felt this way a little bit too: The Israelites.

When God took the Israelites out of Egypt the Scripture tells us that He didn’t take them along the main road - the road that was probably faster, maybe easier, and perhaps not as scary as the wilderness road He instead took them on. You see, God took them on a detour.

My first reaction is to nod emphatically along with this story because I understand how that feels. How it feels to be re-routed by God onto a road and journey that you weren’t quite expecting.

After all, I don’t always expect the twists and turns and roadblocks that I don’t plan into my story. I don’t always desire the longer route that sends me into a wilderness season of waiting.

But there is purpose even there.

You see, God didn’t just detour them for no good reason. He didn’t just direct them into the wilderness because He felt like it.

He had a purpose: “If the people are faced with a battle, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.”

God could see down the road what they couldn’t. And, oh, the lessons He wanted to teach them in the wilderness.

He’s got the same reasons for you too, friend. So next time you find yourself in a wilderness detour situation, here are some things I want you to remember:

1. When life feels like a detour, it could actually be God’s preparation for what He has coming next.

2. When life feels like a detour, it could be because there is something coming ahead that He sees even when I can’t.

3. When life feels like a detour, it could be that He has something to teach me on this new route that I never would’ve learned otherwise, and because of it I’ll be stronger.

4. When life feels like a detour, God still knows how to get you to your destination.

Hang on for the journey. He knows what He’s doing.


1. Reflect on a time in your life when you felt like your life was taking a detour.

2. What are some lessons that God has already shown you in seasons of wilderness journeying?

3. Why is it important to keep an eye out for God, even in what feels like detours?


Dear God, thank You that You have my journey all mapped out. Thank You that You know what you’re doing. Please, help me to trust You even when the road doesn’t look familiar. In Jesus’ Name amen.



#embracinglife #followingGod #faith


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