Saturday, July 9, 2022

God’s Detours Are Part of His Perfect Timing

 As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.” – Isaiah 55:9

Over the past 75 years, traffic engineers throughout the United States and Europe have faced the same problem. People drive WAY too fast. So, engineers have tried all sorts of ways to get drivers to slow down, including stop signs, traffic lights, speed bumps and digital speed displays. These approaches have had mixed results. But there is one traffic-slowing method that, as far as I can tell, has been more effective than all the others. It’s called “woonerven” – a Dutch word that means “living street.”

In the late 1960s, residents of the Dutch city of Delft got fed up with people treating their roads like a race track, so they decided to take their streets back … literally. Local residents moved their living rooms into the streets. They dragged their chairs and couches onto the streets, along with their kids’ bike racks and sand boxes. They built planters in the roadway and started hanging out with their neighbors right there in the middle of the road. And as they turned their streets into a constantly-changing obstacle course for cars, traffic slowed to an average speed of nine miles per hour.

Now, we probably don’t want to try this in the Victor Valley! But it got me to thinking: Sometimes God creates a woonerven in our lives. Many of us have two speeds: Fast and Faster. We rush through life doing what we want to do and going where we want to go. Then, all of a sudden, we have to slam on the brakes, because there’s a couch in the middle of the road … a couch that GOD put there! So, we navigate around it only to find a sandbox, a bike rack and a tree. And we throw up our hands in frustration and say, “God! What gives? What are You doing?”

God answers: “Woonerven! My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9). God set up a woonerven for the Apostle Paul in Acts 16:6, when Paul wanted to go to the city of Ephesus in Asia – a great city of 300,000 people who desperately needed to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ. To Paul, taking the gospel to Ephesus seemed like a no-brainer, but God said, “Not yet! Wait!” Over the next two to three years, God’s obstacle course directed Paul to five cities in Greece. Then and only then was God ready for Paul to make his way to Ephesus.

In God’s perfect timing, Paul spent three years in Ephesus spreading the good news of Jesus to both Jews and Gentiles. And God did “extraordinary miracles” through Paul (Acts 19:11-12), so that people were healed and cured of demonic possession simply by holding aprons and handkerchiefs Paul had touched.

Here are three insights you can take from Paul’s “extraordinary” ministry in Ephesus:

Insight #1: God’s detours are woonervens – LIVING detours. Remember that when you ask God for something, He has three possible answers: “Yes,” “No” – and “Wait.” In Acts 16,God told Paul, “Not now. Wait.” The Lord wanted Paul to go to Ephesus. But first, He needed Paul to share the gospel in Philippi, Thessalonica, Berea, Athens and Corinth. As a result, many people were saved, five books of the New Testament were written, and Paul joined forces with some great new ministry partners. So, when God tells you to wait, remember: He is redirecting you on a strategic detour that will offer new ministry opportunities and friendships that you otherwise wouldn’t have had.

Insight #2: When you are in the center of God’s will—trusting, loving and obeying Him—He will give You the desires of your heart in His perfect timing. God knows what you need, and He also knows what you desire. So, when your greatest desire is to bring Him glory and honor, you’d better believe He’ll give you the desires of your heart. But it’s going to be in His perfect timing, not yours. And when the timing is right to give you what you’ve desired, it will be so much sweeter than it would have been if He had given it to you when you first asked for it.

Insight #3: God wants to do miracles through you. But you need to be a clean and willing vessel. One of the greatest blessings in the world is to have your body used by God in a significant way. As Christians we have the opportunity to allow God to use our mouths to tell people the Good News about Jesus, lead them to Christ and pray for them. We can allow God to use our legs and feet to take us where ministry calls. We have the opportunity to allow God to use our arms, hands and fingers to help serve in a worship service, volunteer to help others and embrace those who are hurting. And because our God is a holy God, He needs our bodies to be clean: Clean minds, clean mouths, clean hands and a pure heart. So, if you want to be used by God in significant ways, be available and pray for clean hands and a pure heart.

You all know the old expression: “Good things come to those who wait.” That’s especially true in the kingdom of heaven. So, trust, love and obey God as you patiently navigate God’s strategic woonervens in your life.  He has some wonderful surprises for you along the way.

Dane Davis is the pastor of Impact Christian Church in Victorville. Join us at Impact for Sunday services: in person at 9 a.m., or online at 10 a.m. on YouTube or Facebook Live. For more information, visit

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