Detours

detour signStreets near us are decorated with orange traffic cones, yellow signs screaming ‘detour,’ iron jaws of “dozers” ripping apart crumbling curbs and sidewalks, and dump trucks rumbling with loads of oily, restorative asphalt. The goal of all this labor? Pothole-free streets, unbroken curbs, and stumble-free sidewalks. In the meantime we reduce speed, weave between the orange cones, alert and aware of yet another detour sign directing us to a side street.

DETOUR: a long or roundabout route taken to avoid something or to visit somewhere along the way; a diversion or bypass; from the French détourner = a chance of direction.

On any given day my attitude toward orange-cone detours reflect my opinion about life’s—perhaps God’s?—detours. When I’m late for an appointment, or fanatically driven (apt word!) toward a goal, detours are annoying and frustrating, often producing illogical thinking. “These laborers waste too much time.” Or “Street B needs repair ‘way more than mystreet.” Or—even more telling—“Why me, God?”

Moving fluidly from Point A to Point B is my preferred method of everyday travel. In my neighborhood and in my life. This is especially true when I’ve heard God’s call toward a specific goal. A call confirmed in God’s Word and by his Spirit, affirmed by community, and justified by results.

Then orange cones appear in my “neighborhood.” Unannounced, unexpected, unsought. I am diverted from the plan. (Although admittedly I’ve been known to occasionally sneak out at night, secretly placing cones of my own in the path.)

I can fall back on pithy sayings, most true, some annoying:

When God calls, he provides.
The greater the obstacle (detour), the more glory in overcoming it. (Moliére)
Obstacles (detours) are designed to make you stronger.
Obstacles (detours) do not block the path, they are the path.
Obstacles(detours) are those frightful things you seewhen you take your eyes off the path. (Gerald Ford)

I need to reflect more about detours in life. Does God have something more profound to say than Moliére or Gerald Ford? If God has called me to go from Point A to Point B, how will he get me there? When will he get me there? What do detours mean?

To be continued…

Continual Newness: Its Risks and Rewards

Here it is: the first day of a new year. Just as on this day one year ago I had no idea what challenges lay ahead, today’s future is fortunately foggy. Yes, fortunately. Were the path plainly laid out, what would I choose? Would I opt for walking a no-faith-required path?  Part of me admits that might have been my choice a year ago.  Ambulances, emergency rooms, hospital, rehab, lengthy at-home nursing and bone weariness not high on my list of desired options.

On Sarah Young’s devotional for January first, I’ve highlighted these words: “A close walk with (God) is a life of continual newness.” Continual newness.  I melt at the “newness” of a baby’s face, smile at spring’s first robin, revel in the feel of a soft new sweater. But continual newness in my walk with God (and others) means fresh challenges, fresh relationships with their as-yet-undiscovered quirks and quackiness , fresh–often painful–understanding of myself, fresh steps of faith that may (will!) take determination and responsibility. It’s this continual newness that I must decide upon today .

It’s relatively easy at age 25 or 40 or even 50 😏 to walk boldly into newness, but if I am to be “God’s Perennial Woman,” I must choose on this first day of 2019–with all its unknowns, questions and even all its fears–to follow the path of newness. Continual newness.

Eugene Peterson’s Romans 12:1-2 paraphrase (with my underlining and thoughts) provides a good map for the days ahead:

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life–your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life–and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture (even the culture that expects what a person “your age” or station in life should be or do!) that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God.  You’ll be changed (continually renewed) from the inside out…

So simple. So revolutionary. So freeing.