Last summer I drove several hours out of state for a funeral. I had my three-year-old daughter with me, so I was a bit restricted on just how early I could leave, but according to the directions I’d printed out from the internet, we had just enough time to drive 300 miles, stop for lunch and take one bathroom break.
Getting lost was not on the agenda.
About two-thirds of the way there, I realized my directions were leading us astray. Though Google Maps said I should have turned by now, the road to turn on was nowhere in sight. So, I kept driving.
Well, driving and mumbling, which led my inquisitive passenger to ask (repeatedly), “Mommy, are we lost? Are we there? What are you saying? Why are we going this way? Should we stop for directions?”
After I drove for several miles without seeing the road my directions told me to take, I finally gave up and turned around. I drove back into the nearest town, stopped at a Subway and asked the first person to make eye contact for help. She kindly informed me that we had, of course, been driving the right way and just needed to keep going.
I hurried my kiddo back into her car seat and got back on the highway. Eventually we came to a detour sign and took a two-lane paved road into the corn. We drove for what seemed like hours without seeing another sign. Every mile that passed raised my blood pressure a bit more, convincing me that a) we were certainly headed the wrong way and b) if my car broke down, nobody would ever find us.
We drove through the countryside, seeing nothing but corn and seemingly deserted farmhouses, for about 30 minutes. [No, it was not hours. But like I said, it really felt like it!] Then, thankfully, I saw a second detour sign. We turned onto another state road and . . . did the same thing all over again.
Again with the acres of corn with no detour sign in sight! Again with the uncertainty of knowing if we were truly headed in the right direction! Again with the never knowing if we’d ever arrive at our destination!
Of course we did arrive – with a good half hour to spare, even. But remembering that story got me thinking. That scary detour through the corn is a lot like life, isn’t it?
- Realizing that you’ve followed your directions only to end up in uncharted territory?
- Looking around and not recognizing any landmarks, but feeling unsure if you should keep going or turn around?
- Following one little detour sign down a frightening path, wishing for more confirmation or direction?
- Finally spotting another sign, only to end up going down another scary road?
I’ve certainly found myself lost and trying to follow life’s detours before. Quitting my can’t-believe-they-pay-me-for-this job to go to graduate school, which I ended up hating, was one. Admitting I’m called to be a writer, even though I don’t know what exactly I’m supposed to write about, is another.
Maybe your detour is a painfully long adoption process or the frustratingly slow baby steps to get out of debt. Maybe you’re driving blind on the road to your master’s degree or trying to figure out how to be content and confident as a stay-at-home mom.
I don’t know what your detour is, but I know the One who drew the map – detours and all. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
It’s true. No matter how far off course we get or how deserted our road may seem, God knows where we’re headed. He knows that we’ll reach our destination – or, rather, His destination for us.
Are you following a detour right now? Have you ever wondered where God is leading you?