GPS is a technology that amazes me. The ability to track every road, side road, and driveway astounds me. Then, to translate that information in real-time boggles me even further. Recently on a long drive for vacation, GPS announced to me that I should get off the Interstate and take an out-of-the-way detour. According to my GPS, I would save twenty minutes. I trusted the all-seeing eye of Apple Maps (which is sometimes a mistake) and took the detour. When I eventually veered back to the Interstate, I looked behind me to see a massive traffic backup.
Like that unexpected detour, my life has taken so many unplanned turns. Coming out of college, I thought I wanted to go into full-time ministry. In the first of many career shifts, after obtaining a Master of Divinity degree, I went into business with my brother. Further detours were around every corner as we owned and operated a wide array of unrelated companies. I’d like to say that this was all part of an ingenious strategic master plan, but, in reality, it was merely a response to challenges and opportunities that presented themselves.
Sometimes detours are inconvenient; other times, they are downright painful. I never imagined being visited by suffering and grief, losing my only daughter, Perrin. I naively thought that my faithfulness to God would make me immune to life’s worst pain.
And in another uncalculated path, writing is filling my days. In high school and college days, every paper I penned was a necessary evil that I finished as quickly as possible. Writing was a grind, far from the satisfying challenge it is today.
I am not alone in the surprise direction life takes. In the Bible, David, the youngest child in a household of impressive men, became King of Israel. God picked Paul, the consummate Jew, to be the apostle to the Gentiles. Jesus called Peter, a volatile, impulsive fisherman, as head of the church. God sees what we cannot see.
We make our plans, but God determines our paths. We drive and strategize; He sends detours. While we operate with an illusion of control, He navigates us toward what is for our best. We might think a different direction makes the most sense, but He sees the traffic jams, dangers, and misdirections that lie ahead. Detours are His mechanism keeping us pointed in the right direction.
I can either resist His navigating, questioning every left and right turn along the way, grousing at His slower, unexplained detours, or enjoy the adventures with all its twists and turns, suffering and joys. I can either trust His plan, even when I don’t understand it, or grip the wheel tighter and attempt to steer my own way.
I fully expect more unexpected turns around the corner for me. Some will be exciting, and others will test my trust in the One who knows what I cannot see. What seems like a detour to me is His gentle, all-knowing, leading for my good. I will choose whether to fear His plan or embrace His hand.