My husband and I recently took a short get-a-way road trip. On one leg of our journey the road signs as well as our GPS announced there was a detour ahead. So being dutiful drivers we followed directions and took the detour. It was a lovely drive that meandered through trees as well as running parallel or crisscrossing the highway we had been on. The ironic thing was, as I watched the scenery around me, I noticed there was no reason for the detour. The traffic continued to flow freely on the highway, there was no road construction, no accident, no anything. My husband and I both laughed about the detour and when we were instructed by both the road signs and our GPS, we got back on the highway and continued to our destination.
As our trip continued, I couldn’t help but think about that detour. Not that we took the detour or that it appeared unnecessary. No, what kept coming to mind was how unexpected that detour was and how our lives are also filled with unexpected detours. Some of them are like the one we took on our trip. They are unexpectedly pleasant. A respite from a monotonous stretch of highway or the everyday routines of life. But sometimes those unexpected detours can be fraught with hazards. They can blindside you when you least expect it. The one constant about any detour is rarely to the detours of life come with advance notice.
The thing is, how we handle those detours can make or break us. I think that is why I love the Old Testament so much. I love all the stories about people who God called and with that calling came a wallop of a detour. Some of the men and women rose to the occasion and became larger than life actors on the stage. People whose names have lived on throughout the centuries. Moses and Deborah come immediately to mind. (You will find their stories in Genesis and Judges respectively.) Others however fell flat on their faces, like Saul whose story is told in I Samuel. There is a saying attributed to Scripture that says: God will not give you more than you can handle. I want to go on record and let you all know that nowhere in the Bible does it say that. What Scripture actually says ( and says it over and over) is this: God will be there with you through all things. My personal favorite verse that teaches this principle is Psalm 23:4: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.”
Sometimes life is overwhelming. Sometimes those detours we end up on are fraught with every kind of hazard imaginable. Sometimes those detours just hurt. Right now, my family is facing our own detour that just hurts. My Dad, who I love dearly, is not doing well. He is 86 and becoming frail and we don’t really know why at this point. I have no idea what this detour we are on holds for us but I will tell you, I don’t like where we are heading. But this I do know: I derive extreme comfort knowing that God will be there with me and my family every step of the way.
So…detours. They can be wonderful respites, they can make us crazy, they can help us laugh at the ironies of life, they can hurt. But what ever detour you may be facing right now, whether it is good or not so great, or downright awful, find people you can lean into. Find people who will let you talk, or just be silent. Find people who will be there with you, who will laugh and cry with you, and above all else find people who will love you through the detour.