I was on my way to speak at a gathering in Central Wisconsin. I had left home in ample time, thinking that I would arrive about 45 minutes early. It was a warm September morning and the leaves were still lush green. I was singing joyfully to the tunes on radio as I traveled directly east into the sun. After driving about 100 miles, I saw a road sign that indicated the road I was on would be closed ahead and I would have to take a 43-mile detour. Soon I saw barricades, flashing lights, and a sign directing me to turn left on Highway 173. I turned the corner and was now traveling north instead of east.
My voice activated GPS, which I lovingly call “Emma,” was fairly quiet that morning until I turned north. Suddenly Emma got frantic. “You have left the planned route! Do you want to update?” she barked. I said, “Yes,” but Emma did not respond. She asked again and, once again, I indicated I wanted to update the route. That’s when Emma died. Apparently, Highway 173 was a county road, which was not on the GPS monitor and I was no longer in a service area.
I was now at the mercy of road signs, but oddly, there were none. I prayed for a road sign just so I’d know for sure that I was on the right road, but it was more than five miles before one appeared. Yes, I was on the right detour but I was going north and I wanted to go east. How was that going to work for me? If the detour was 43 miles long, would that mean I would have to go another 43 miles to get back to the road I needed to be on? I began to calculate in my mind how much time I would need to travel 43 miles twice (86 miles). If that were the case, I would be approximately an hour late for the meeting and I was the speaker. I reasoned that maybe I could still speak because they usually have their meal first and then a special feature before introducing the speaker. Maybe I could still make it in time to speak, but, I realized that I might be a bit rattled after the long detour. The only thing I could do was to move ahead without speeding, follow the signs, and surrender the outcome to Jesus.
When I pulled into the parking lot of the meeting place, it was just ten minutes before the meeting was to begin. The chairperson was waiting outside the door for me with a worried look on her face. She was relieved when I pulled my little tote on wheels from the trunk, which contained the books I hoped to sell at the meeting.
This incident reminds me of the detours we often encounter in life. We have everything completely planned out. A picture perfect Christian family with a loving spouse and obedient children, faithful friends, a successful career, a nice home, vacations to intriguing places, etc. etc. Then suddenly, without warning, there is a deadly cancer, a chronic illness, a death, a job loss, a church split, a flood, a teenager on drugs, or anything that puts us on a detour. We are blindsided and we cannot see where God is leading. A nagging voice reminds us that “we have left the planned route” and, we are not sure we can make it. The only choice we have is to keep moving ahead even when it seems like we are going in the wrong direction and continue to watch and pray for God’s direction.
God works best during our times of uncertainty because that is when we learn to trust in Him alone. His route is always perfect. And, when we surrender every detail to Him, we always reach our destination just in time.