I’m not the most romantic guy. When it came time for me to propose to my wife, I had to think long and hard about how to make it special. I’m old enough to remember the day when you proposed without recruiting an army of people to hide in the bushes and celebrate with you after she said yes. It was 100% up to me as to how this thing would go down, which meant I would be 100% responsible for the memory it would make.

After giving it a great deal of thought, I decided to send my then-girlfriend on a scavenger hunt. It started out at the church where she was working. She came to her car to find a big stuffed teddy bear in the driver’s seat holding a rose and the first clue. After a couple of stops on the hunt, she knew what was happening, but she didn’t know when I would be there. She had no idea how many stops there would be until she heard me say the words, “Will you marry me?”

I know most of the detours we will talk about in this series aren’t as exciting as the stops she made on her scavenger hunt. Why? Because at every stop she was given a gift and a note of encouragement that she was getting closer. She had something tangible to look at and know that the big question was on its way. When you and I go on a God-ordained detour in our lives it can often feel scary and uncertain. The next stop is unknown, and we never really know when we will be able to finally step into the fulfillment of the promise he has made to us. We wonder why we are on such a long and difficult journey. Wouldn’t it be easier if God just took us straight to the promise?

I guess one could argue that my wife would have enjoyed skipping all the stops. It was a cold and rainy night, so it certainly would have been more comfortable if I would have just surprised her at work, where she was surrounded by family and friends. It would have been easier, and maybe even more comfortable, but it wouldn’t have taken her to all of our special places. It wouldn’t have given her a story to tell for years to come.

What if the detour you are currently on is God’s way of conforming you more into the image of the Son? What if the easiest way isn’t the best way? What if there are things you need to see and experience in the wilderness that will prepare you to appreciate the promise more fully? What if God is building in you, on the detour, a story that you will tell for years to come?

Trust him at every turn, and you will one day step into the promise that he has for you. Here is the way the writer of Proverbs saw it:

The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.
— Proverbs 16:9

If he has you on a detour, stay the course, because God is up to something!