Oklahoma Conference of the United Methodist Church

When detours are opportunities


Then one of the leaders of the synagogue, named Jairus, came and, when he saw Jesus, fell at his feet and begged him repeatedly, "My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live." So Jesus went with him.—Mark 5:22-24

By Bishop Robert Hayes Jr.

Life is what happens to us as we are headed to some other place. We all set our courses and chart our futures, but inevitable detours and interruptions invade our well-crafted plans. Unforeseen, they force us to re-direct and sometimes completely change the courses of our lives.

No one is immune from these unexpected turns. Not even Jesus.

In the Gospel of Mark, we find this beautiful narrative that records a day in the life of Jesus. The story begins with Jesus casting out demons from a herd of swine and restoring a demoniac to health. Those two events so infuriated the community that the residents insisted Jesus leave their neighborhood.

The narrative continues: Jesus got into a boat and crossed to the other side of the lake, but crowds were waiting on him there as well. And just as he was about to speak to the people gathered there, Jairus fell at his feet, begging Jesus to come and lay his hands on the man’s dying daughter.

This was clearly an interruption. It forced Jesus to make a decision: Should I go ahead with what I was about to do, or should I go with this stranger who came from nowhere and altered my plans?

The next sentence indicates no hesitation at all, for it states, "He went with him."

But on his way to Jairus’ house, Jesus faced a disruption in that plan, too. Within the crowd following him, pressing upon him, a woman with a flow of blood attempted to touch the hem of his robe. Undoubtedly she had heard stories of how Jesus had healed people and made them whole; she probably concluded that her only hope in the large crowd was to touch his robe so she, too, could be made well.

In New Testament times, a woman with a flow of blood was forbidden to be near other people. Her act could have cost her life.

Yet she succeeded in touching him, and immediately Jesus stopped and asked, "Who touched me?" So many people were pushing and shoving around Jesus that the disciples didn’t understand how he could make a statement like that. But the woman came forward and admitted to being the one who touched Jesus.

Here was another interruption. Yet Jesus paused on his route to Jairus’ house. He said to the woman, "Your faith has made you whole."

As he was attending to her need, a much greater roadblock loomed. Word reached the group that Jairus’ little girl had died. There was no need for Jesus to go to the house now. It was too late. Jairus was told, "Don’t trouble him any longer."

But Jesus responded, "Do not fear, only believe." And he went to the man’s house.

He put outside all the weeping and wailing bystanders and, with Jairus and his wife, Jesus entered the girl’s room. He took her by the hand and instructed her to get up! And the child not only got up, but also began to walk around. Everyone was amazed.

Jesus had a unique way of turning detours into opportunities. Whenever life threw Jesus a curve, he always hit a homerun. Whenever life sidetracked him, Jesus had the ability to reveal the hand of God in that.

When we reflect for a moment, we realize that sometimes detours are not detours at all. Interruptions to our ready-made plans are not always what they seem. Oftentimes God—in infinite wisdom—places in our pathways the sign "This way closed!" in order to lead us in other ways chosen for us.

Has it occurred to you that a detour from your plans may be a straight line to God’s purposes?

The events of this one day in the life of Christ remind us that a momentary interruption may mean a lifelong opportunity to be of service to God. Jairus opened the door of opportunity to Jesus. Christ went through that door and followed that new path to restore a woman’s health and faith, and to display the awesome power of God by bringing a little girl back to life.

The very next time life forces you to alter your course in your day, look for the hand of God in that. It may turn out to be the best day of your life.


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