Divine Detours

Ephesians 3:1
God did not reveal
[His mysterious plan] to
previous generations, but
now by His Spirit He has
revealed it to His holy
apostles and prophets

Last summer, my boys and I took some memorable
bike rides. One path that runs alongside a local river
became the boys’ favorite. There are numerous spots
to stop, toss their helmets aside, and explore along the
riverbank. Their most celebrated discovery was a pool of
tadpoles. In contrast to my boys, I don’t like to stop while
riding, and I don’t search for tadpoles. I like to travel a
direct route there and back. For Wyatt and Seth, however,
biking is as much about the detours as the destination.

In the opening chapters of Ephesians, Paul penned
a breathless array of words and images, themes, and
ideas—rich theology, gushing and overflowing. However,
as chapter 3 begins, Paul slows down, pauses, and
writes down a prayer: “When I think of all this, I, Paul, a
prisoner of Christ Jesus for the benefit of you Gentiles . . .”
(v.1). And that three-dot ellipsis sends us on a journey.
Paul had barely finished a line of his prayer when
he headed in a different direction, a long rabbit trail.
You have to trace down 13 verses to find Paul resuming
his first-sentence thoughts. Most translators, aware of
this disjointed shift, mark it with a dash or an ellipsis—
attempts to communicate that Paul had taken a detour.

It’s interesting that as Paul veered onto this literary side
road, he pointed to God’s penchant for detours. Paul
recounted how God had “revealed His mysterious plan”
during his blinding encounter with God on the Damascus
road. This ordained diversion with Jesus had not been on
Paul’s agenda (v.3). Paul then detailed another seeming
detour—God’s merging of Jews and Gentiles had been
something neither people group had expected (v.6). A monumental detour.

Grace often comes unexpectedly. Detours, surrendered to God, are not
inconveniences—they’re gifts. —Winn Collier

Look over Ephesians
3:1-13 again. Notice
how the characters
were surprised by God’s
actions. How were the
Gentiles surprised? The
Jews? Paul? What does
the idea of “mystery” in
the passage say about
God’s detours?

Where are you most set
on your own agenda
and most resistant to the
detours God might want
you to take? How might
God be at work in your
life amid the detours?

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Scars - Dan Stevers