God’s Design in Detours


And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:17)

Have you ever wondered what God is doing while you are looking in the wrong place for something you lost and needed very badly? He knows exactly where it is, and yet he is letting you look in the wrong place.

I once needed a quote for a new edition of my book Desiring God. I knew I had read it in Richard Wurmbrand. I thought it was in his devotional book, Reaching Toward the Heights. I could almost see it on the right hand side of the facing pages. But I couldn’t find it.

But while I was looking, I was riveted on his devotional for November 30. As I read it, I said, “This is why the Lord let me keep looking for my quote in the ‘wrong’ place.” Here was a story that illustrated perfectly that nothing is wasted that we do in the name of Jesus — nothing, not even looking for a quote in the wrong place. Here’s what I read:

In a home for retarded children, Catherine was nurtured twenty years. The child had been [mentally handicapped] from the beginning, and had never spoken a word, but only vegetated. She either gazed quietly at the walls or made distorted movements. To eat, to drink, to sleep, were her whole life. She seemed not to participate at all in what happened around her. A leg had to be amputated. The staff wished Cathy well and hoped that the Lord would soon take her to Himself.

One day the doctor called the director to come quickly. Catherine was dying. When both entered the room, they could not believe their senses. Catherine was singing Christian hymns she had heard and had picked up, just those suitable for death beds. She repeated over and over again the German song, “Where does the soul find its fatherland, its rest?” She sang for half an hour with transfigured face, then she passed away quietly. (Taken from The Best Is Still to Come, Wuppertal: Sonne und Shild)

Is anything that is done in the name of Christ really wasted?

My frustrated, futile search for what I thought I needed was not wasted. Singing to this disabled child was not wasted. And your agonizing, unplanned detour is not a waste — not if you look to the Lord for his unexpected work, and do everything in his name (Colossians 3:17).