Streets 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…