If there is one Bible verse that really bugs me, it is Genesis 12:1 when God says to Abraham, “Go … to the land I will show you” (Genesis 12:1 ESV). Not only does it poke at my need for control, but I get lost … a lot. The Bible teaches that God determines the time and place that each of us is born (Acts 17:26); I sometimes wonder if God waited until the invention of GPS before sending me into the world.
Nevertheless, there are times when a detour is actually a part of God’s plan. Take Abraham and Sarah, for example. When God asked Abraham to leave his homeland, Abraham and Sarah packed up their little family and began the journey. However, just as they were starting to make some headway, a famine struck and the couple suddenly found themselves detouring into Egypt. But the curious thing is that when they left, Scripture says that they traveled right back to where they started.
“…to the place where his tent had been at the beginning…” (Genesis 13:3 ESV).
Abraham did not gain a single inch of ground. So what was this detour all about? Well, a few chapters later, we are introduced to Sarah’s Egyptian slave named Hagar. Could it be that God was watching over Hagar and that He decided to remove her from Egypt and its pagan gods? Did God Himself have His eye on Hagar, desiring to bring her out and introduce her to Himself?
What if God orchestrated this little detour into Egypt, not because He needed to send Abraham and Sarah in, but because He desired to bring Hagar out? After all, God could have prevented the famine; He could have rained down manna from Heaven. But with God, everything has a purpose – even the detours. Even the difficulties. Even the desert roads.
Later, when Abraham and Sarah’s misguided schemes to conceive a child distress Hagar to the point that she flees into the wilderness, it is God Who pursues her; it is God Who meets her there.
Ever been in a wilderness? I have. At the time, we may only see dust and despair beneath our feet. To our right, we see a wasteland …to the left, only emptiness. But if we look up, we will find God has been there all along, watching, waiting.
Why? Because only in the wilderness can we come to recognize our complete dependence on Him. Maybe that’s why God allows us to go there. To reach the point where our hearts cry out to Heaven, “God, do You see me?”
Oh yes, dear one. He sees you.
Hagar may have felt completely alone, but she was never alone. She may have felt unseen, but she was never out of God’s sight. She may never have felt more unknown and unloved than in that moment, but it was right then – right there in the barren wasteland – where she heard a voice, “Hagar.”
And it is there – on the desert road – where we get our first glimpse into the amazing plan God has for her life.
How about you? What if God wants to use the desert roads—the detours, the struggles, the heartaches and tears—to form and fashion you for His great purposes? Will you trust Him? Even in the detours?
“Go … to the land I will show you …” (Genesis 12:1 ESV) But don’t be surprised if you encounter some detours along the way.
“Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” (Isaiah 43:19 ESV)