Boston likes to close their roads...often. Utility work, construction, festivals, or road races can all close a road to thru traffic. Several times in the past year I’ve been driving along and found myself suddenly rerouted by a police officer. No biggie, right? It wouldn’t be except that most of the city is littered with one way streets or roads that do not travel in a grid-like pattern! Now when I see a road closed ahead, I start to sweat. I follow the policemen’s signal and the detouring arrow like an obedient driver even though I know this likely won’t end well.
As I was once again driving all over the city trying desperately to find an alternative route Sunday, it hit me: how we handle life’s DETOURS is character-building. Life is full of detours. We get passed over on that perfect job opportunity, relationships sour, tragedies happen. Many things can cause us to stop in our tracks and be forced to shift directions.
Like most of these Boston road closings, I’ve noticed that there is usually only one detour sign posted. In my opinion, that is the equivalent to knowing what ingredients go into a recipe without the instructions of how to prepare the dish. If you’re like me, you’d rather if someone closes the road, they should also take the time to map out an alternative route! But alas, I don’t run the world. And the world doesn’t work that way.
And maybe rightly so: There are very few real-life detour signs to guide us safely to our destination. No, that is left to each of us. We all have to find our own way. Of course it is possible to learn from someone else’s experiences. I like to call this “wisdom”. But know that when you face your dead ends, no one has been right where you are with the exact circumstances that have brought you to that moment. How you handle your next move after facing an obstacle is the stuff of champions. Don’t be discouraged! I believe that the Spirit that is in us is greater than these obstacles that you or I face. I also believe that we are being guided by God’s loving hand even if we don’t believe it or we can’t feel it at the time.
I am totally speaking to myself right now. Our experience in church planting over the past year has definitely felt like a series of road blocks. In fact, we’ve been detouring for a while now. There have been just as many moments of confusion than clarity, but we have not given up on the basic belief that got us here: God doesn’t waste our experiences. The courage required to try out a new way or merge our old ways with new ways is continually growing.
I think I can best describe our adventure so far as a "detour from that other detour." In other words, we may not be much closer to our destination than when we started but we sure have traveled a long way. And that's a good thing.