“The really happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery when on a detour.”–Unknown
I am a classic Type A personality: first-born, honor roll student, list-maker extraordinnaire, etc. I set and achieve goals. I am driven. I must have a plan!
I spent most of my life resisting detours of any kind, until I realized how futile that is…because like it or not, detours are part of life.
We can either fight against them or we can allow them to work for us.
I can still remember one particular detour that took place when I was 16 years old. Our family was making our annual summer pilgrimage from Pittsburgh, PA to Myrtle Beach, SC, where my uncle Duane had a vacation home. I had had my driver’s license for a few months and was always looking for a chance to get behind the wheel. Probably against his better judgment, my dad agreed to let me drive part of the way down. He and my mom promptly fell asleep and I took the opportunity to push a cassette into the sound system (yes, this was the 80s, long before the invention of CDs!) so I could enjoy some musical accompaniment as I whizzed along the highway. An hour and a half later, I was still going strong, so happy to be helping out with the long drive.
Until my dad awoke from his nap and happened to notice the signs along the highway.
They all said north.
After all that driving, we were only about 45 minutes from our home in Pennsylvania. It turns out that there was a fork in the highway and I had taken the wrong one.
I always did have a terrible sense of direction.
I comforted myself by theorizing that I had probably saved us from being in a terrible accident that may have awaited us on the southbound part of the highway. Of course, I contemplated this from the back seat, where I was banished for the remainder of the trip.
Each detour presents us with a fork in the road: we can view this interruption of our plans with anger, bitterness, irritation, disappointment, fear or acceptance, anticipation, a willingness to experience something new, and peace and trust in our good God.
Of course, detours vary in degree.
When I graduated from college, I was convinced that I had aced a particular job interview and was poised on the edge of a great career. However, I wasn’t offered that job and the path I had planned to travel was suddenly closed.
To this day, I am grateful for that detour. Since I didn’t get that job, I went to work for another company…and met my husband. Without that detour, this moment in time would never have happened:
(Please note that in 1992, big poofy shoulders and enormous head pieces were all the rage for brides). 🙂
Of course, some detours hurt deeply: a health crisis, job loss, financial struggles, a major move when you would loved to have stayed put; the unexpected death of a loved one. I have experienced all of those.
Yet, each one of those detours turned out to be a blessing in disguise:
*They forged steel into my soul and fire into my heart. I’m tougher than I thought I was. I am a survivor.
*They allowed me to meet wonderful people that I would never have known otherwise…some have become my very closest friends.
*They have made me long for that great heavenly day when I will finally see my Savior’s beautiful face and He will wipe away every tear from my eyes and there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain. (Revelation 21:4)
*They have challenged me to live by the truth of God’s Word rather than allowing my feelings and my limited vision to dominate.
*They have caused me to truly treasure the good times. Those moments are all the sweeter for having endured the hard ones.
*They have forced me to live within today’s parameters, focusing on the here now. And even in the hardest of times, blessings still abound…if we have eyes to see them.
I am currently on a God-appointed detour, so this is all fresh to me. I thought I would share some steps that have helped me along the way. If you are experiencing a detour, please think about the following:
3) He can ONLY do good to you. (Jeremiah 32:40). During a detour—especially if it is a painful one—you must always remember the comforting and reassuring promise of Jeremiah 29:11, which says, “I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you; plans to give you a future and a hope.”
6) You are never alone (even if you sometimes feel that way). (Matthew 28:20).
8) God does not make mistakes. (Deuteronomy 32:4).
9) Remember that every detour has an end. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8). His timing is perfect. This season will not last forever even if it feels that way. So…
10) With that in mind, enjoy the scenery while on the detour. (Psalm 118:24). It may seem that there is nothing to enjoy, especially when life is hard. Life can be brutal, no doubt about it. But our beautiful God delights in giving us gifts (James 1:17) and they can be found, even in the hard places. I know that from experience.
“This day will never come again and anyone who fails to eat and drink and taste and smell it will never have it offered to him again in all eternity.”—Hermann Hesse
He has made everything beautiful in its time.—Ecclesiastes 3:11