What we can learn when life takes us on unexpected detours

(Photo: Unsplash/Mark König)

After all these years I am still not where I wanted to be. I still haven't got that job I hoped for, I still have not achieved that goal I have been aiming for. I am still not where I thought God wanted me to be.

Are these sentiments with which you are familiar? Are they especially reflective of your own life?

These are questions I often ask myself. I even go as far as to ask: 'Why must God take so long in revealing His good and perfect plan?'

Many of us have plans for our lives and even the sequence in which these plans should unfold - greater yet, the timeline in which they should unfold.

Disconcertingly, more often than not, our plans don't unfold as we have envisioned. For some of us, we know exactly where we want to be and what we want to do, or should be doing, but it seems a far way off and sometimes unreachable.

Take comfort for you are not alone. Joseph, Israel's son, was just like us.

When God gave Joseph a vision of his life through two dreams, he was young and immature. He was in no position to fully understand it and the implications it would have on his brothers, who ended up hating him for it. The vision however was definitely from God and was fulfilled in God's perfect timing.

He was betrayed

The purpose Joseph would fulfil started with the betrayal from his brothers who deliberately sold him into slavery, concealing that act with the lie to his father that he was dead. This betrayal led him to Potiphar's house where he would learn management skills and be introduced to positional power while still maintaining his relationship with the Lord.

Even after he was betrayed and living in slavery, the purpose of God was still operational in his life.

It might not have looked that way, but God was with Joseph and the effect of God's presence was seen by those who enslaved him. If you find yourself in a situation similar to this one because of the betrayal of friends or persons as close as family members, do not forget that God is with you and even in this season, there are lessons and skills to be learnt.

He was accused of rape

Can you imagine the conversations Joseph would have had with himself, as a man committed to following Christ yet experiencing the stinging effects of lying lips? While serving Potiphar faithfully and reaping the benefits of this commitment, being placed in command of Potiphar's affairs in his absence, Joseph is tempted by his own master's wife who preferred to lie about being raped rather than silently accept rejection.

Joseph, even in the face of temptation, held firm to his commitment to God and suffered the consequences of his faithfulness by being sent to prison.

How does one reconcile walking faithfully with God with all the challenges experienced by Joseph, a committed servant? Shouldn't a woman or man of God committed to His plan, daily seeking to nurture his or her relationship with God, be experiencing favour and blessings, rather than experiencing hell – to the extent of being sent to prison for an offence one did not commit?

Yet, even in prison, Joseph received favour and was given authority to take charge of the affairs of the prison. He was being prepared for power and his character being shaped by his experiences.

If you have experienced or are experiencing the lowest moment you have ever had in your life, remember God is there with you. God never left Joseph and Joseph never allowed his lowest moments to repel him from God.

Look to God, even in the dungeon. His plan is in progressive motion.

He was promoted

After two years, God began to reveal his ultimate plan for Joseph and gave the Pharaoh a dream that only God could interpret, choosing Joseph to be his spokesman. God saw Joseph's maturity, He saw his faithfulness and saw that he now had all the requisite skills to be the leader He had chosen him to be, and unveiled the plan that led to Joseph's promotion.

After God gave Joseph the interpretation, He used the Pharaoh to promote Joseph as the second most powerful man in Egypt and began his master plan for the nation of Israel. Joseph's visions did come to pass but he could have never imagined the bigger picture.

We know that this immature young man grew up to be a great leader of great character, compliments of those who started the roller coaster of betrayal, slavery, false accusation and imprisonment. He showed grace and was the epitome of great mercy which led to forgiveness and by extension a nation preserved in a time of great famine.

Detours are destined

Joseph's detours to purpose did not make him a monster of hurt that would cause him to retaliate and seek to hurt all those who opposed or crossed him. Instead this man of God turned into a leader of humility, never forgetting his experiences and God's favour even in the gutters, and learnt from his experiences to fulfil all God had shown him from his young years as a boy in his father's house.

What plans do you have for your life? What do you believe God has destined you to be?

Whatever it is, and whenever God reveals it, know that the detours are also destined by God.

This life is not as straightforward as it can be in our minds, but if we are to use Joseph as our example, God will honour your faithfulness even on those detours if you and I choose to draw close to him during those times.

The detours do not thwart God's plan for your life. In fact God uses them for your good.

Remember Proverbs chapter 19 verse 21:"Many are the plans in a person's heart, but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails."