Lately I have been receiving stories of detours from a number of sources. My experience tells me that when I hear the same thing repeatedly I ought to pay attention. There is a lesson to be learned and I would do well to pay attention to it.
A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to worship at an Episcopal church in Chicago. As it was Epiphany the pastor was talking about the Magi and the detour they had taken. Rather than returning to Herod as they had been instructed they trusted the dream they had that warned of the danger and took a detour away from Herod. They took another way around and protected the safety of the Christ child. Mary and Joseph had plans to marry…they did not have plans to become expectant parents prior to that marriage and they did not plan to give birth to their child in a cold stable, but things didn’t go as planned. God changes our plans.
More times than I can recall I have become irritated by an unplanned interruption in my schedule caused by a required extra stop at an extra store or returning to someplace I had already been to finish what was not finished. Too many times to call coincidence there has been an accident or incident that I would surely have been in the midst of if I had not been detoured from my original route. God changes our plans.
A dear friend of mine explained having a child with cerebral palsy being like this…imagine a long awaited and well-planned-for journey to Italy. You have bought the tickets, made reservations, scheduled appointments, received your passport and even learned to speak Italian. You have been looking forward to this for a long time with preparation and anticipation. As the plane is in the air you are excited that the time has finally arrived…just as the plane is taxiing up to the gate the flight attendant says, “Welcome to Holland.” Holland? We were supposed to be going to Italy? Holland and Italy equally lovely countries, equally lovely possibilities…but…you didn’t prepare for Holland, you prepared for Italy. As you experience Holland you find many blessings…it’s just not what you planned for. God changes our plans.
How do we react when God changes our plans? Do we dig in our heels and fight it? Do we take a deep breath and submit? Perhaps the lesson we learn from these experiences is that when we take such detours we might try taking the time to enjoy the detour. What do we see along the detour that we would have missed going our own way? What is it God is trying to focus our attention on?
When we find a roadblock in the path we have chosen, perhaps it is because God is trying to redirect us down another path. Perhaps it is because our focus has wandered from where God wants it to be. Perhaps God just wants us to slow down for a minute to rest and regroup.
God changes our plans. We choose how we respond.