Divine Detours

Could your detours and sidetracks be part of God’s perfect timing?

We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps.
~ Proverbs 16:9 (nlt)

I had one simple goal when I left home that morning: get an emissions test. I had often passed a sign for the testing location, so I felt confident I knew where I was going. But, since I’m a measure-twice, cut-once type of girl, I did a quick Google search to be sure.

Detour 1: A Closer Option

My Google Map search revealed a testing site closer to home, so I decided to save time and gas by going to that one instead. But, this first detour turned out to be a literal dead end. Three turns off the main road, the shop at the end of the street wasn’t a testing facility at all.

Strike one, and back to my original plan.

Detour 2: Find the Sign

”Vehicle Emissions Testing” – I had seen the sign pretty much every day driving my son to school, so it should have been a simple matter to find the turn and take care of business. Couldn’t go wrong this time with such a clearly labeled sign to direct me. Wrong again! This time, I simply never found the sign.

Strike two, and time for a new plan.

Detour 3: Walk to Vehicle Emissions?

Pretty quickly I realized I had driven further than I should’ve had to in order to find the sign. It was clear I needed a third plan.

What should have been a simple errand was turning into a bit of a hassle. Thankfully, the final detour gave me a chuckle.

I pulled over in a Safeway parking lot to give Google another go. This time the map revealed an “official” inspection station just a few miles away. I took a quick look at the street view to be sure, then set off on what was certain to be the final leg of my journey.

Following the map was simple enough, until the final turn dropped me off in the parking lot of a business plaza behind the testing center. Google suggested I park and walk from there. That’s right… walk to a vehicle emissions testing center. (Google, if you’re listening–and we know you always are–how about fixing that one?)

Finally, the Real Goal

With a passing emissions certificate in hand and a load off my mind, I decided to pick up a few things at the store on my way home. And, it was at the local Walmart that I finally discovered why God had actually sent me out, and along a few sidetracks, that morning.

On my way to check out, I found myself right in step behind a very small boy of no more than four years old. Walking alone and clutching a pair of little-boy shoes, he glanced nervously down each checkout aisle. I gently approached him and asked if he needed help finding someone. He looked up at me with the sweetest eyes and nodded yes. He led me back to the last place he had seen them, and we soon found a very relieved grandmother to hug.

Helping this precious little boy absolutely made my day. Not only were the detours suddenly worth it, I realized that each one had added up to that exact moment:

  • The time it took to drive down a dead-end street and back, plus…
  • The time it took to park outside a grocery store and consult a map, plus…
  • The time it took to drive through the wrong parking lot…
  • Equaled exactly the right amount of time for me to meet a little boy who needed my help.

I had made a plan to get an emissions test, but God had made a divine appointment for me to help a lost little boy.

So, the next time you feel like detours are slowing you down, take a moment to consider whether those sidetracks may actually be God directing you to where He needs you to be.

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