Detours

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”                                                                                      Proverbs 3: 5 & 6

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing, and perfect will.”                  Romans 12:2

Every year my Arizona sister and I take a “sisterly adventure” in her motor home. The first time I took this mode of travel, it was a little unnerving. As we rode the monstrous vehicle around turns with a mountain blocking our view of what was coming on one side and on the other side a clear view of the edge of the cliff we were on, I was only somewhat reassured to focus on the guardrail. If the brakes were to give out, this strip of metal could be the only thing keeping us from tumbling to our deaths.

Other times we would encounter a “Detour” sign, and suddenly we knew our travel time would be longer that day. But although the sign felt more like an annoying inconvenience than the reassuring guardrail, both were there to protect us and to help us arrive safely at our destination.

We humans travel a lot. We drive from Point A to Point B in our home towns. We visit friends and family in other cities and states. We vacation in exotic places on the other side of the world.

But as much as our physical bodies move, our minds are even more in motion. Our thoughts and imaginations can take us virtually anywhere, and at astonishing speeds. Here’s the problem: Often where we end up is not a good place! Have you ever let your mind wander and suddenly stopped short and wondered, “How did I get here?” Beware of an unbridled imagination!

Paul summed up the truth in one sentence: “The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.” (Romans 8:6) So, how do we make certain that our minds are controlled by the Spirit and not taking us in the wrong direction – on the path that leads to death?

A good place to start is to ask God for wisdom. James wrote, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” (James 1:5) Other advice pertaining to guarding the mind is in I Peter 5:8, 9a: “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith …” Being self-controlled can mean not letting your mind wander but keeping it focused where it should be. For someone like me, whose mind seems to go in a dozen places at once, this can be challenging – for me, but not for God. Its’ important for me to pray for the discernment to recognize the enemy’s subtle suggestions that try to creep into the mind, and the moment I am aware that he is “messing with me,” to end the thought by focusing back on God and His word.

Not all of the enemy’s thoughts are obvious, and he is a master of confusion. We can have plans that seem very good and right to us, but we can’t assume that every time our plans are thwarted that it’s the enemy’s doing. We always need to start with the assumption that God knows way more than we do, and that He may have an alternate, or modified plan that will turn out even better.

Is that closed door Satan’s barrier, or is it God’s boundary? Is that limitation Satan’s roadblock, or is it God’s guardrail? Is that delay Satan’s obstacle, or is it God’s speedbump? Is that “sign” Satan’s smoke screen, or is it God’s direction?

I hope that all those questions don’t make the reader more confused than ever. We don’t need to be! At the risk of preaching what I practice, I’d like to share what I pray daily when I commit my mind to the Lord. After I pray this, I simply assume that any “obstacle” is under the control of God’s sovereignty, and that delays mean He’s getting me to slow down and continue to trust Him, on His timetable. I want not only to go where He wants to take me, but to arrive when He wants me to.

Prayer: Lord, You know best. Please take hold of my mind, and take me where You want me to go. Break through the barriers and roadblocks and obstacles of the enemy. Blow away the smokescreens and fake detour signs. Put up Your boundaries, so I will  not stray out of Your will. Put up Your guardrails, to keep me from going off the path and getting hurt. Set out Your speedbumps, so I don’t race ahead and miss something. And direct me with Your Word, so that I will know where to turn to go where You desire. Help me not to run ahead of You and get lost, or drag my feet and lag behind. Keep me in the center of Your will. In Jesus’ name, Amen

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