Dr. Tony Evans, pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship church and president of The Urban Alternative, recently shared his thoughts on how one can discover their destiny and explained that God places detours in the lives of His children for their benefit.
Pastor Evans, who recently released his latest book, "Detours: The Unpredictable Path to Your Destiny", told The Gospel Herald that often, when searching for the destiny that God has designed for them, people discover that where they are doesn't seem to be connected to where they think they're supposed to be going.
"Everybody feels like they're on a detour at some phase in their life," he told GH in a sit-down interview in Orlando, Florida. "God never takes us from where we are to where He wants us to be in a straight line - He zig-zags us there. The reason He does that is because development has to occur for us as well as preparation of our destiny for us. When those two are both ready, the two meet. When both aren't, or either is not ready, then there are detours God must take us on to get one or both ready."
He continued, "God takes us on detours because something needs to be fixed in our lives or constructed for a better future so that we can get back on the main highway to our destiny."
The pastor emphasized the importance of understanding the the concept of providence, which he defined as the idea that "God's invisible hand is in the glove of history, walking, working, twisting, turning and bringing things to His intended goal."
"God is sovereignly in charge of what happens in our life down to the most personal, intimate details of our existence," he told GH. "When you understand that God is in control of things that appear out of control, then you can maintain control even when you do not understand what's going on."
Dr. Evans' passion for helping others discover their God-given destiny comes from personal experience. He shared how, as a young man, he hoped to become a full-time evangelist in Baltimore. However, due to several "casual comments" made by his professors, he ended up entering the pastoral ministry and today leads an 100,00 member church in Dallas, Texas.
"I'm doing what I do now because of comments made along the way that were totally opposite of what I'd planned that placed me in the way of where God wanted me to go," he admitted.
He explained that similarly, many Millennials today want to "microwave" their destiny. In fact, in 2012, the Boston Consulting Group, along with Barkley and Service Management Group, surveyed 4,000 Millennials (ages 16 to 34) and found that an overwhelming number of them were "all about instant gratification" and "put a premium on speed, ease, efficiency, and convenience in all their transactions."
"You don't get to where God wants you to go overnight, because there's too much development," Dr. Evans asserted. "A lot of millennials go to college and wind up doing something totally different than what they majored in college, because life changes. So it is in the will of God. Things change, and so you have to stay fluid with Him for Him to take you where He wants you to be."
To determine God's will for one's life, Dr. Evans said there are two practical steps individuals can take.
First, one must make sure they are walking in obedience: "That's what God responds to and that's how He leads us," the pastor said. "That means walking according to His word."
Second, he advised looking for the signals of the Holy Spirit: "Those generally show up with two or three witnesses," he explained. "The Bible says by two or three witnesses shall a matter be confirmed. The way you know you're moving with God is He confirms it through circumstances and people, but He does it more than once...Look for those confirmations regarding your direction."
No story in the Bible better illustrates how God can use detours in life to get you to your purpose than the story of Joseph, said Dr. Evans.
"Throughout Joseph's life, he had ups and downs, many of them were discouraging," he said. "But the Bible says that no matter what happens with Joseph, the Lord was with him. The comfort is to know that if I am, to the best of my knowledge, walking in the will of God, that when things aren't working out, they are actually working out because God has a purpose in them not working out."
He added, "When you understand that, it can be bring peace and calm to even the most tumultuous of situations."