A few weeks ago I flew to Spokane Washington to retrieve my eldest daughter from college. We packed her car with her belongings and left early on a Saturday morning for the 20 plus hour drive back to Paso Robles CA., maps in hand. I needed to make the 1200 mile drive in two days so I was on a tight time schedule. We were scheduled to spend the first night in Yreka, California, 700 miles south. It would be a long day but I knew we could make it.
I had hoped to have time to visit a few friends on the way home but due to my constricted schedule that was not going to be possible. I called my college friend Terry in Yakima and told him we would have to see him another time.
About two hours into the trip I saw my turn off for Portland and took it. I remembered how beautiful this section of Oregon was as it runs along the Hood River west toward Portland. Twenty minutes after turning onto the highway however I became concerned. The river was nowhere in sight and I kept seeing signs for Yakima. After another 15 minutes it became apparent that I had taken a wrong turn somewhere and despite my plans I had indeed arrived in Yakima. I stopped at a Starbucks and pulled out the map. I mistakenly had taken 82 West when I should have taken 82 East which would have led me to 84 West and Portland. I had gone almost 50 miles out of the way and it cost me both time and money. It was going to take more than caffeine to ease my exasperation with myself.
“Lord, why did you have me make such a long detour? You know I am on a strict time schedule!” God’s answer in my frustration: “Call Terry.”
“Terry, I am in Yakima. Can you meet for coffee?” “I will be there in 10 minutes,” he replied. Terry is dear friend and a pastor at Wiley Union Church in Yakima. He has been there for almost 30 years faithful preaching God’s Word every Sunday. Our visit that day was a wonderful gift from the Lord for both of us. We had not seen each other in many years and it was good to hug and talk and reminisce. We said our goodbyes too soon and my daughter and I were back on the road again. That was not the only detour that trip but we made it to Yreka that night, tired but glad to be back in California. During the long drive I had a lot of time to ponder the detours God takes us on.
The truth is there are no detours on God’s road map for us. He has every highway, every turn, every bump and pothole planned out before we are even conceived. God knows the exact course of our lives for He is the one who has carefully planned out our days. “Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed” Psalm 139:16.
When we keep our internal GPS system focused on the Lord he will guide and direct us. Proverbs 3:6, “In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.” Psalm 32:8, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.”
My Yakima detour was a good lesson for me. Too often I get intent on my destination and I do not take time to enjoy the journey and the people along the way. God made it clear to me that day that His plan was for me to reconnect with Terry for encouragement and affirmation for both of us. Sweet moments of connecting with a friend, soul to soul and heart to heart, are too few in my life. I am glad that I had those precious moments with Terry that day even though God had to detour my plans to make it happen. I have had many detours in my life, some were more extreme than others, but all were unexpected. In those times I can rest on God’s promises such as Romans 8:28; “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” God takes all the events in our lives and works them out for our good and His glory. He is a good and faithful God, worthy of our trust and sovereign even in the detours.