Taking Detours

Detour sign - old orange and black  road sign
Construction near my house sends me on a convoluted detour, meandering around side streets and dodging orange cones. This squanders my time and squeezes my patience. “Why don’t they just hurry up and finish the road?”

I don’t like detours—I want to stay on the main road. Even metaphorical detours frustrate me, especially those of my own making.

Can you hear this hymn playing in the background?
“Prone to wander, Lord I feel it;
Prone to leave the God I love.”

While I have no plans of defecting from the faith, my day often consists of little detours from the main road God has assigned to me. I begin each morning in God’s Word, reciting out loud the words of life and surrendering my heart afresh to God’s agenda. But as the day progresses I get easily side-tracked onto my kingdom come, my will be done.

Wait, it’s a detour! How do I get back on the main road?

More times than I can count, the habit of memorizing Scripture in context rescues me from a self-absorbed excursion off the main drag. Reminders … and more reminders, that my life is not my own.

“So we make it our goal to please him… For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. … And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them… And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.” 2 Corinthians 5

Sobering words that get me back on the prescribed path. Where would I be without them? Cruising down the highway—deceived and oblivious.

Paul writes to the Corinthians, “I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ” 2 Corinthians 11:3. Do I think for one minute that I’m more discerning than Eve was? Yes I do, and therein lies the danger.

Memorizing chapter by chapter, instead of single selected verses, keeps God and his kingdom front and center, and gives a context to those me-centered verses I naturally gravitate to.

The construction project of my life continues. While I haven’t yet figured out how to avoid all detours, I do know where to turn to get back on the main road.

I’d love your feedback. How has memorizing chapter-by-chapter helped you with detours?

9 comments to Taking Detours

  • Karen Burroughs

    Thank you, Janet, for continually encouraging us in fresh ways. Now the orange cones will always remind me to review Scripture! 🙂

    I’ll continue your metaphor! A habit I have tried to cultivate that helps me stay on the main road is “look in the rearview mirror” asking myself, “Where have my thoughts taken me?” The practice of paving the lanes in my mind with Scripture has taught me the power of meditation. We’re always meditating, thinking about something. If Scripture is not surrounding, supporting and enhancing my way, then I have been getting off road headed for a ditch. Wow! I love how there are so many traffic/road metaphors for this!

    I think that you have just given me a whole new set of reminders to stay focused on God’s Word! Traffic lights, speed limit signs, billboards, these could all become triggers to my mind to go to different passages and review them! Thanks Janet!!

    • Karen, You’re right—there are so many road metaphors. I love your picture of paving our road with Scripture and looking in the rearview mirror. How many times are we heading for the ditch? Well sometimes daily. God’s Word to the rescue. It is our headlights that show us where we’re heading, and our steering wheel to get us back on the road.

  • Thank you for this reminder of why memorizing in context matters. Have been struggling with my most recent memory project, and this helps get my courage up again and reminds me of how important it is!

  • Tony Pintcke

    Janet, as usual so insightful a road metaphor. As you and Karen were reflecting on your “roads” both in front and behind, I couldn’t help but think of the scene in Pilgrims Progress when Christian decided to venture off the path for, what momentarily appeared a short-cut. Look where that ended him. Keep on keepin’ on. Never get off the path. Stay the course! Sounds easy. Oh how easy it is to become distracted, and get off the course. Again, thanks be to Jesus, that we do have His word to bring us back on track. I, too, prefer chapter by chapter. I have to confess mine is more of a context thing, than ease of memorizing. Although, once I get it, I’ve got it, and have actually been able to use it.
    Thanks again, Janet!!

  • Lise Anderson Brocious

    Thanks Janet! You are so right. I am amazed how I wander off the main road God has put me on. I have found that even the habit of memorizing Scripture (even if I am not memorizing or reviewing at that moment) has trained my mind to ask “what are you thinking about or doing right now?” and focuses me back on where I should be. Jesus tells Martha when she is bothered and worried: “Only one thing is necessary.” Amen.

    • Hi Lise, I too have been trained to take those free moments to evaluate and run back to God’s Word so that my own thoughts don’t lead me astray.

  • Patty Brunger

    Janet, thank you for the reminder to avoid those road blocks and detours. Great analogy of our every day life that His Word keeps us on the right path. Psalm 139 is a reminder to me, “You scrutinize my path and my lying down and are intimately acquainted with all my ways” ……..”you have enclosed me behind and before and laid your hand upon me.” What a blessing that He is still with me when I veer off the road.