Monday, August 18, 2014


I hate... no, let me be clear, I HATE detours.  

If you look at the picture and map above, this will tell a glimpse of the story for my strong personal reaction (repulsion) to detours.  On the map you'll see my messy marking of yellow and red.  The yellow indicates the closed road we dealt with for two years.  It was the passage way to much of the places in life my family likes to go (and doesn't "like" to, but has to go.)  For me I found that blockade mostly inconvenient when I was trying to get home.  That back passage way into our neighborhood was the way I got home from almost everywhere, and out of habit I would drive that way only to be turned around to a blockade similar to the one in the photo above. 

It was a glorious day when they opened back up that road.  I got up early just to drive through it when I saw another friend celebrating its opening on Facebook.  It was a good two weeks before I stopped whispering "Wooohooo" every time I drove through.  But it was just over a month before another blockade came into my life, the ugly red scribble on my map, and the actual photo above.  This too is a familiar passage way - leading to church, the grocery store and my kids' school (which starts in just over 2 weeks.)  And it's going to be locked up tight till at least some time in 2016. And the beginning of the process will include massive pile driving within a stone's throw from my house that is likely to give our house a good rocking on its foundation. And I'm not happy about that either. 

Even more than actual physical detours on the road, I am not at all a fan of the detours of life.  I don't like being asked to go a way different than I wanted or planned. I don't do well when I come up to a road block that says I cannot proceed any further, and I don't like it at all when I get pushed into traffic that says I have to go through an area that I have no interest at all in being in.  But like the roadblocks on the road, detours of life can not be powered through, manipulated out of or even avoided all together - not as long as you're trying to move through life.  This walk of faith isn't one you plot out for yourself.  It's one you have to simply follow along. 

I find myself dealing with little inconvenient detours right now, things like children breaking arms, and car trouble, and relational and financial struggles and that ugly six letter words CHANGE that force me to take a left turn where I wanted to go right, or a U-turn where I wanted to go through.  In the big picture they are a pain in the rear, and they have their negative effects, but there is nothing life shattering (although, could have been bone shattering, so there's that) but it's just uncomfortable and definitely NOT fun.  

My detours haven't taken me down any roads of late that I'm not still familiar with, but they are complicated and out of the way, and I just don't want to go there.  But, there I am.  And in all honesty, it does not bring the best out in me, especially when they seem to come in rapid succession.  Boom, boom, boom.  I want to cry out "FOUL!"  And in all honesty, it even makes me a little mad at God. (I know, I know, I'm the only one...) I think over and over, "Lord, if only _____" and I am adept at filling in the blanks with the little things that could have been different to change the outcome, and to keep me out of the detour.  In all honesty, "Why?" becomes my favorite question.  And the little spoiled child rises up inside me and my internal temper tantrum (which sometimes oozes out externally) twists my innards in a knot.  

The reality is, not all detours are minor like the ones I'm muddling through now.  Some of the detours are long, dark and windy.  They are the roads no one ever wants to find themselves on - but once detoured in that direction, there is no way out but through it.  No U-turns.  Death, disaster, divorce, miscarriage, infertility - no one ever plans for these things, no one ever signs up to take that road, but sometimes the detours just come, and there is no way around it but through it.  It brings a couple of scriptures to my mind. 

The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord
and He delights in his way.
Psalm 37:23

I have a love/hate relationship with this scripture.  On the one hand it offers hope.  It tells me that God had a plan, and that there is purpose.  On the other hand, it just really ticks me off that in God's sovereignty He was OK with the struggle, or worse, in those really dark times, He was OK with the pain.  In my very fleshly humanness, I would like very much for life to be painless and simple, but it's simply not the way. 

Yes, I realize the Bible says that "it rains on the just and the unjust" and that in life bad things happen to good people, God's people.  Or as a Californian in the midst of the worst drought in decades, you could say that "Good things happen to bad people" (since we'd see rain as a good thing.) But which ever way you see it, it's true.  Belonging to God neither makes you immune to struggle and pain, nor does it guarantee you a blissful and peaceful existence (and on a side note, we should really stop presenting the Gospel as a panacea for that exact reason.) 

In all honesty, as I annoyed (and disagreeable) as I am about my detours, I see other people in detours of their own that make me even more filled with "Why?" and "God couldn't You have just"s...  As much as I "get it," I just don't get it... I know what it says "on paper," but the practical of scripture does not play out painlessly.  And the old adage "Life is hard, but God is good," sometimes sounds hollow, whether you're feeling a little beat up by life, or whether life has pulled the rug right out from under you.

There's this other scripture that comes to my mind as I think about the detours of life. 

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
Romans 8:28

It says it with authority, ALL things.  So from inconvenience to injustice, God promises to have His hand in it.  And He promises to work it out - for our good and His glory, and most of all to make us more like Jesus. It does NOT make the difficulties or the disasters any easier to weather.  At least for me, I know my flesh still rages against it, BUT if we are honest it does again invite in that little glimmer of hope.  God has not abandoned, He's actively at work, and we can trust Him.  For me, I do it with a little kicking and screaming along the way, but turns out God is equipped to handle my humanness, He loves me right in the midst of it.

Whether you are dealing with absolute darkness or just unpleasant difficulty in the midst of your detour, God's there.  Dare I say you might even find Him more present on the "long way around" than you would have if you had just continued on your plotted out road for yourself.  Above all others, I would say I don't like detours - I HATE them remember? But even in the midst of that I would encourage you, God is God of the detours too.  So hang in there, follow along the unplanned road, and keep your eye out for the signs, God will meet you there and He will lead you through.  Because although you have been led a way you did not plan, God has set that road for you all along, and You will find something there intended for you, even if its just more of Him.

I will give you the treasures of darkness
And hidden riches of secret places,
That you may know that I, the Lord,
Who call you by your name,
Am the God of Israel.
Isaiah 45:3