Detour Ahead

by Dr. Paul Chappell

“And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.”

1 Thessalonians 5:23–24

Ours is not to reason why. Ours is but to do and die.—Alfred Lord Tennyson

It was 1804. Napoleon Bonaparte stared with frustration across the English Channel toward his nemesis. Behind him was the invincible Grande Armee, nearly 200,000 crack veterans, all straining at the leash to crush the hated English. Everything was ready for the invasion: the transport barges, the escort fleet, ammunition, cavalry, artillery, ambulance wagons, even field bakeries. Every last detail had been meticulously planned. It was merely a matter or crossing the twenty-eight miles of water in a single night's journey. Yet month after month Napoleon paced the beach at Boulogne, hesitating to act. Finally, after over a year of waiting, he suddenly turned his huge army around and marched it into the heart of Europe. The plan to invade England was laid aside forever. The thing that had stopped the great conqueror at the height of his career was the Royal Navy, Britain's "wall of oak." Out of sight, just over the horizon, it was nevertheless always foremost in Napoleon's doubts. And though the future Emperor's own fleet outnumbered the British, he dared not test it.

Napoleon’s army was detoured because of the English fleet. What he wanted to accomplish had to wait until another time; he had to take another path to accomplish his goals.

One of the greatest detours in all history took place in the desert with the children of Israel. What should have taken eleven years ended up taking them forty years to accomplish. That detour was due to their lack of faith in God. This is not the only instance of a detour God used; there are several others in the Bible as well.

Consider these men who were detoured for a time: Moses was detoured into submission. The forty years in the wilderness tending sheep were not a waste, but actually a training ground for tending Israel later on. The desert experience taught Moses to rely on God rather than himself (Exodus 3,4). Paul was detoured into learning. (Galatians 1:17,18). Paul drew closer to the Lord during that time. Philip was detoured from many, to one. He went from winning multitudes to winning one man, the Ethiopian eunuch; from a great revival to a singular witnessing experience. This story shows the Lord's feelings on the value of just one soul.

Detours serve a purpose. Whether or not we see God’s purpose in the situation, He is working through the detours. While our flesh may want to fight the detours and cling to our own desires, God can only grow us if we are submissive to His plan.

Has God taken you on a detour? Are you questioning what He has you doing? God is in control. As Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote, “Ours is not to reason why. Ours is but to do and die.” You can never know exactly what God is doing, but as you look back years from now you’ll be thankful you trusted God’s plan. Trust God today and submit to His detour for your life.

To learn more about Pastor Paul Chappell and his ministry, please visit

Daily Bible Reading
Leviticus 8-10 • Matthew 25:31-46

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