Monday afternoon, I was sailing right along on a familiar road between North Georgia and my home in Florida. With limited stops, my ETA was better than it had ever been. Then came the critical point when I thought I was taking a shortcut, only to realize as soon as I turned off the main highway that I was heading down the wrong road. Not only that, this was the same road that I had taken a couple of years before—thinking it was making that same “shortcut.” So I wasn’t surprised when it took me 11 miles to get turned around, then 11 more to get back to my starting point.
I shouted, “No, no, no, no!” Then I made a quick recovery and said right out loud, “OK, Lord, I’ll just do this and not get bent out of shape. It was my error. I’ll take the consequences.” I have to admit I was a little excited about my budding serenity. So, I drove on in peace.
But when I got back to the Interstate I missed the loopity loop to get back on I-75 South, and “Oh Boy,” I ended up back on I-75, but now I was going north! That took another bunch of miles up and back with another round of pep-talk prayer so as not to slide into impatience. “OK, keep calm.”
When I finally made it to the proper shortcut turnoff I thought, OK, NOW I know what to do! But then I got so engrossed in listening to a CD that I flew past my exit, and it just so happened to be the last one before the Sunshine Skyway Bridge with (so I thought at the time) no turning back! Yipes!
When I pulled up to the toll booth, I admitted my dilemma to the very helpful toll-taker who laughed and waved. “You won’t believe how often this happens.” After paying the toll I was directed to still another turnaround—up and back—here, there and yon! FINALLY I was on the right road, and it carried me home.
I have faced more than my share of detours in my life—times when I have felt so lost and alone! I thank God that He has turned them into beautiful lessons. Though I have learned many the hard way, they have brought me to now. All those people, places and things that I let get in the way of what God had for me brought struggle so strenuous and heartache too true.
What I see now as I look back on them is the way God has been there, time and time again. Even when I tried to strong-arm Him out of my life, He was there. Even when I did the exact opposite of what He wanted me to do, He was there. Even in those dark days and black nights when I stumbled and tumbled along—trying and failing to be my own guide—even then, He was there waiting patiently. He never gave up on me, even when I had given up on Him.
Are you on a detour now? I know how easy it is to get caught up in moments of indecision that land us in shortcuts that prove to take us out of our way—the ones that require extra time and effort as we retrace our steps—if we even know where those steps are. I pray in these lost and lonely times, that you will know God is always longing for us to find our way back to Him, even if we have to take the long way home.