A friend was telling me about an exciting adventure they had over the holidays. They had made detailed travel plans for a trip to New York City. After a week spent visiting family and friends, the plan was to get to the airport with lots of time to spare, find the gate, settle in, board the plane and fly straight home to Tallahassee. What could go wrong? They had a plan!
But when they got to the airport, they went to the wrong gate and didn’t realize it until the last moment. They made a mad dash to the correct one but the plane had already started backing out of the gate. Oh, they got on another flight…but they had to fly to Chicago, then to Atlanta, and then finally to Tallahassee. Twelve hours later they finally made it home.
But they had made a plan, right?
As detailed as we might make our plans, nothing can predict the unexpected real-life situations that occasionally take us on a detour. This happens not just when traveling but in life as well. We set our sights on a goal. We make all the necessary arrangements so that we are completely prepared as we set out on the most direct route toward whatever it is that we have our hearts fixed on achieving. And then, without any warning, life hits us with a detour. And some of those detours are jolting, jarring, coming completely out of left field.We plan to stay with our love for all of life and then divorce happens. We plan our children’s lives to a ‘T’ so they will be happy and then they struggle or fail or get into trouble. We come to work one day and get a pink slip. We go to the doctor for a routine check-up and receive bad news.
Of course, some detours can be a gift. Sometimes there is an upside to life’s side trips. A young woman who was told she’ll never get pregnant finds she is with child. We find an old friend on Facebook and this chance encounter leads to a new career. We take a pair of jeans out of the dryer and find that fifty-dollar bill we thought we had lost.
Detours. Always there is the human plan…and then there’s life: mysterious, complicated, and wondrous with all its twists and turns. Remember the old proverb: “Man plans. God laughs.”
Now this doesn’t mean that God plays dice with the universe or does things just to upset our best laid plans. That’s not the God I believe in. It does mean that one of the best lessons of life is to plan on our plan changing. Plan that the road we are presently on will most certainly include some detours. Expect the unexpected and remember that so much of life is not about perfection but improvisation.
Just do your best each day with whatever life might toss your way. Trust that God will give you the tools to get through whatever comes, especially when your plan falls apart. So go ahead. Make your plans. But use a pencil with a big eraser at the end so that when the detours come (and they will!) you can change the plan.
Remember detour means “detour,” not “road ends here.” If you’re determined to get somewhere, then an unexpected bypass shouldn’t stop you. Sure, it may make your journey more challenging, but it also might make it more rewarding and exciting…it might even take you to a much better destination than you originally planned for!
So the next time you’re faced with one of life’s unexpected detours, just do what the lovely voice on my GPS tells me to do when I make a wrong turn…”Recalculate“!
You are loved,