"Mom, I really don't think you want to get off here" my son warned as I slowed and exited off the interstate. In the third hour of a four hour round trip to take Ben to his out-of-town dentist, I was anxious to get home. I had my GPS to help me out if I ran into trouble and I already knew that thing was aware of routes that I am not. What could go wrong? Ben muttered something about a road or bridge being closed. I didn't want to listen to him and reminded myself that he has an intellectual disability. He was probably thinking of another location or something that had happened a long time ago.
I drove merrily on my way through some scenic back roads. I was getting closer to home, I could tell, and rejoiced, thinking of all the things I could accomplish with this extra time I had just shaved off my trip. Those GPSes are wonderful devices - I would have never ventured off the familiar path if I hadn't had the electronic direction.
Until I came to bright orange sign warning me that the bridge was under construction and I had to detour. I knew this bridge and was even aware it was closed. But I had no idea the road I had just decided to take eventually crossed the bridge.
I was two miles from my house.
The only detour available to me would add a good thirty-five minutes to my trip. I could get out of my van, climb over the barricades, and walk the rest of the way home faster than it would take me to turn around and drive.
While I fumed internally, Ben had the wisdom to remain silent in the back seat.
Detours are never fun. Oh, I know some people try to put a sunny outlook on things and remind us that there are always blessings to be found on these unexpected trips. But that day, I wasn't looking for any silver-lined clouds or blooming roses on the side of the road as I backtracked. I was just mad - mostly because I knew it was my own fault! Well, my fault and that of the roads dept. who had the brainy idea to re-do a needed bridge in the first place!
But I did learn some things that day. I learned, foremost, to listen to my son. He's always had a keen sense about direction and travel-related knowledge - I should have respected that. I also learned that my GPS is only as knowledgeable as the information with which it was programmed. Since I haven't bothered to do any updates to it, it had no way of knowing the bridge was out.
My detour could have been avoided. But most life detours come about through no fault of our own. Perhaps you find yourself on one of those unplanned paths right now. It's natural to want to fuss about it, like I did when I discovered I'd have to turn around and drive a whole lot farther than what I had planned. There's a place for expressing our sorrow and discomfort while on one of life's detours. But there also comes a point where we stop that and begin to look for what it is God wants us to learn now.
No detour comes about except by His design and allowance. In time, we may find a reason we were set on the unplanned path. We will definitely find blessings when we look for them. And hopefully, we will choose acceptance and find peace when our journey has been disrupted in a way we would have never chosen.
Proverbs 16:9 A man's heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps.
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