Monday, April 18, 2011

Road Construction Ahead - Detour!

We live in a world that demands a plan - a plan for today, a plan for tomorrow, a plan for dinner, a plan for the summer, a plan for even leaving the house, and most definitely a plan for our future.   What's with all the planning anyway, and what happens to us when our plans are met by a sign like the one off to the right? Don't we usually grumble and complain? Or, maybe that's just me.  I remember when we moved into the neighborhood where we currently live.  Almost within the week of our move, a lengthy project in road construction commenced and unless I wanted to sit in long lines of traffic, I was forced to take a detour when I needed to get home after being out somewhere.  It was hot, I was tired, I often had cold groceries, and I daily fought the urge to throw eggs at the "detour" signs that made my straight path home crooked.  What was once a perfect "L" shaped turn onto our street became a combination of "S" shaped curves and "Z" shaped zigs and zags.  "I cannot wait until they finish this stupid construction," I often muttered.  They finished it.  I don't have to take those detours now, but do you know how much easier and more peaceful I could have lived my life for those few months had I just thanked God for the alternate route?

My life hasn't gone according to plan, at least not all of the plans - and I am so thankful that it hasn't.  Have you ever planned something for your life and later discovered that it was a blessing when it didn't work out?  Most, if not all, people have had this experience at some point during their lifetime.  For me, it has happened more than once.  I graduated from college with a bachelor's in history and a plan to maybe pursue law school.  That plan never went beyond an internship with the prosecuting attorney's office.  Instead, I went to work at a local technical college, got involved in a relationship, and became pregnant with my son.  My plans then became about him.  In April after his first birthday, I married the amazing man I now call "husband" and started a new plan.  We moved to California and I started working as an Analyst for a corporate office in the health care industry.  I planned to climb the corporate ladder, but only made it a portion of the way up when I was detoured by what turned into a two and a half hour way. New plan. I finished graduate school with a master's in psychology and a plan to become a marital and family therapist.  Shortly after graduation, I discovered that my generalized degree in psychology didn't meet state board licensing requirements - time for a new plan.  I started nursing school with a plan to become a licensed R.N.  That plan didn't work out.  God has called very special people into this field, but I'm not one of them.  Finally distraught over so many failed plans of my own, I quit planning and started listening.

Every road block, every detour, and every failed plan has led me into the arms of God.  I can look back now and see where and when things went wrong - where my "detour" signs were prominently displayed.  "Look, I'm over here," I can almost hear God softly calling.  I didn't want to listen.  I wanted to plan.  I wanted to plan, I wanted to control, and I wanted to do things for me.  "The world is mine to conquer," I once so selfishly and arrogantly thought.  No, the world is His to conquer and He already has (John 16:33).  When we stop living for ourselves, the world, and everyone in it, and start living for Him - things become much more clear.  Detours aren't put in your path to make your life harder; they're often there to lead you to where you're meant to be.  Isn't it true that they make life harder?  Not really.  We make life harder by complaining when we're on a detour.  God's Word tells us to give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18), even the ones that leave us wanting to throw eggs at detour signs.

The next time you're met by road construction, instead of complaining about it, offer the construction crew some ice water (I know this isn't usually feasible, but in my case it wasn't  freeway construction; rather, it was a road through town so it actually would have been possible) or roll your window down to tell them "thanks" for the hard work they're doing in extreme temperatures.  When a sign leads you down a detoured path, stop and marvel at your surroundings.  You may never have noticed them otherwise.  When life seems to thwart your plans, don't get in a hurry to make a new one unless you've consulted the One who made you and gave you life.  Instead, remember that when you're being led down a detour, there's usually a very valid reason.  Don't grumble and complain about detours; thank God for them and let yourself be led down a new path - it could be the most important path you'll ever travel.

Worry less about planning and more about listening to God!  Let Him revamp the roads you're on! 

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3:5-6  

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  1. Dear Heart - Isaiah said that "The crooked places shall be made straight" in 40:4. And, whenever I hear that phrase, I sing it! It is one of the first 2 tenor solo arias from "The Messiah" by Handel, as you may know. I agree with your analysis above - all detours lead you to where you need to be - with God. I have an amazing story to tell you the next time we see each other - remind me to talk about my wife's rebellious older brother!