THIS IS MY story.
Ever feel as though entire seasons of your life could be summed up with one flashing “road work ahead” sign?
I don’t know about you, but I love a good detour (said no one ever). My husband and I sat in our living room one evening, discussing the landscape of the life we were crafting. Coasting along in our own comfy version of the American dream (cue Star Spangled Banner), we began to ask questions. One led to another, as we fiercely cross-examined this gift called life. Our dialogue weaved around words like purpose, meaning, and impact.
How do we get outside our overloaded schedules enough to make a difference? And if we choose to engage the unknown, will this deconstruct all that we’ve carefully built?
Our detour sign flashed neon ahead.
The next few months found us absorbing hard truths as we reached far into a widening reservoir of revelations. Outside our perfectly hedged yard existed a world, offering a stunning buffet of social issues. Each question cracked our world perspective open a little wider, as our hearts softened with realities uncovered. Realizing there was no overarching remedy for all the hurt in the world, we decided to live on purpose. As we prayerfully unpacked our part, a mutual discerning to adopt emerged.
Africa was on the horizon. At home, four determined hearts waited expectantly for news. We opened the agency correspondence to feast our eyes upon this wide-eyed little boy with a toothless grin.
Born on the red dirt floor of a mud hut in rural Ethiopia, he grew despite great lack. Survival swung erratic as food, medicine and clothing were less than scarce. Breathing brave with every inhale, he hoped wild for a family. And our wide-eyed hearts grinned back. All at once, our detour became more than an abstract idea of a purpose-filled life. There was this profound experience of grief and fear meandering with joy and anticipation, as we traded our well planned course for the unexpected. Two years later, we headed back to Africa a second time to meet our daughter.
It turns out, surrender to God’s holy re-routes builds in us something more than we could ever self-construct. Two adoptions later, I have learned God feels otherwise, and I am thankful for His holy construction projects. Each orange-coned detour has slowed me down enough to see both madness and beauty like never before. We’ve learned well which side of rescue we are really on. Not all detours lead to far off places. I’ve learned that often it’s not the departure nor arrival that matter most, but what God does with willing hearts along the way.
Detours can be hard, heavy and hallowed all at once. They can be disorienting, uncomfortable and messy. Sometimes there’s more grief than joy and more work than rest. Fear not, grace is found in each established step, and God especially loves the lost.
There are detours we will willingly choose, but many will find us miles from our intended destinations. From crossing time zones to backyard fences, my prayer is that you trust God in your own rerouted journey. There’s madness and beauty…and grace, wherever the road may lead. And just when you begin to question it all, may God reveal how every mile traveled has re-constructed a holiness in you like never before.
In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.
Originally published January 14, 2019 on firstchristian.com. © 2019 First Christian Church.