On a recent road trip from Chicago to New York City, we encountered a sign that indicated there was a detour 20 miles ahead. We stopped, had lunch, enjoyed a small town off the interstate and obliviously got back on the interstate only to run into a traffic jam and a mandatory detour that took us 80 miles and more than an hour out of our way.
Later, looking at a map, I realized the best way to proceed would have been to take the country road South out of the town where we stopped for lunch. The detour could have been avoided, and a pleasant country drive enjoyed in its place. The warning signs were clear, but how were we to know how much off course that detour was going to take us?
The episode reminded me of some less than productive detours I’ve take with my life after warning signs were spotted. There have been unwise choices to engage in a relationship that had nowhere to go or grow, choices to avoid asking tough questions, choices of comfort over courage, a choice to avoid change by not following up on a great job offer, to name a few.
When I’ve gone off course for a while, God has used those occasions to teach me some things, to grow me up, and to be more attentive to the questions, restlessness and promptings he stirs in me. However, I can’t help but think I could have avoided wasting several years of my life, and absorbing and causing some pain in the process.
Trace my decisions to their root cause, and I find that I was reacting to my past instead of responding to God. I lacked clarity and courage to take the journey God was laying before me. I had not paused to allow God to tell me my story from his perspective.
As I get older, I am clear on this: I have no time for more five-year detours. I want what God wants for me. I want to avoid fruitless detours and follow the path God has for me.
Maybe you are clear that you don’t want the next five years to be defined as a detour in retrospect. My prayer for you is that you would put yourself in a place to take in what God can give you – clarity and courage that comes from engaging in a conversation with him about the story he wants to write through your life.
Questions for Reflection:
- What clarity or courage are you seeking for the next season of your life?
- Might you form those thoughts or questions into a written prayer?
Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying, “This is the way, walk in it.” Isaiah 30:21
Father, thank you for pointing the way. Help me to be obedient in following your path, your lead, your pace. Let me receive all that you have for me by continuing to invite me into conversations about the story you want to write with my life. Help me to lean into you for the awareness, clarity and courage it takes to follow your path and see that redemptive story. Amen.
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