Traveling: Disturbing Detours

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Detour! Are you kidding me? I was already late.

Detours—on the road or in life—don’t shorten because we’re inconvenienced. Frustratingly, life is filled with them. As good as our planned path may be, the new home is deferred, the degree takes too long, the pregnancy is delayed, an opportunity eludes us, financial relief is too far off, or the medical procedure is too lengthy.

Life doesn’t come with GPS. The abrupt appearance of detours, usually unexpected and often irksome, is never welcome. But wouldn’t we be better served if we accepted them as part of life? Think about it, detours are not there to harass us but to keep us from danger and get us safely to our destination.

They take us down roads we would not commonly travel—through unacquainted neighborhoods, along undiscovered back-roads, past unfamiliar scenery. When eyes are open and hearts are pliable, detours can lead to discoveries we would otherwise miss, on the road and in life.

We travel two roads—one leads through the hills and valleys of this temporal world, the other is a sure path to a new and eternal earth, one without detours. Jesus said, “You know the way to the place where I am going…I am the way and the truth and the life” (John 14:4,6).

The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn,

shining ever brighter till the full light of day. Proverbs 4:18

…with no detours

Where IS that Hundred Acre Wood?

Just when I think I’m pretty clever about reading caution signs and carefully walking the path in front of me—Bam! Blindsided. Bewildered. Awake at night. Tears.

After watching Christopher Robin last night, I really want to climb through a hole in a tree trunk and find a 100-acre wood and talk with Pooh. Astutely he warns us, “Always watch where you are going. Otherwise, you may step on a piece of the forest that was left out by mistake.” It’s that piece of life that feels left out by mistake (or should be left out) that throws us.

MapI’m sorry. All this morose Eyeore-like blather comes from focusing on earth—on wishing for an imaginary hole through which to escape and discover a fantasy forest where bears hold your hand, piglets do your worrying, and donkeys mirror your glum attitude. It’s silly and nonsensical until you stop to consider…

Actually, I do have a mysterious path to embark on. It’s not imaginary and it leads to a 100 billion, trillion, quadrillion acre land of peace and joy and beauty. I will enter that path, possibly sooner than I expect, and find wonders beyond what I imagine. The heartache and disappointment I grapple with will pale, replaced by glorious wonder.

Until that day, fellow travelers and Hundred Acre Wood wishers, in Pooh’s words, “Promise me you’ll always remember: You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” If a bear with little brain can say this, how much greater is the bravery, strength, and intelligence available to those of us who walk with the King of Glory, possess His Spirit, and own His promises?

“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” (Deut. 31:8 NIV)

“No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it.” (1 Cor. 10:13 MSG)

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isa. 41:10 NIV)

 

 

…Who is in Heaven

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Did you find peace in bringing your prayer concern to “Our Father” last week? Today, let’s take that same concern and give it to our Father “who is in Heaven.” The phrase is my update on “who art in heaven” from the King James, but I love these words too much to omit them as the modern translations do.

“Our Father who“ tells us that father is more than a role, a statement of paternity, or a genealogical designation. It reminds us that our Father is a who—a person—with feelings, thoughts, emotions, hopes, plans, disappointments. At first glance it hardly seems necessary to mention but when we focus on the person-hood of God, we realize that the burdens we bring Him are met with empathy and love. Being made in His image gives us some understanding of His emotional investment in us. The depth of feeling that brought us to prayer is more than matched by our Father who hears that prayer.

This wonderful Person, God the Father, feels our pain, aches with sorrow, receives us with love, listens with patience, and cares more than we imagine. He is more than the God who created this wonderful world for us to inhabit and more than the King in Heaven who will one day welcome us home. The God of our past and future is also the God of our present.

Our Father who is. At times I stop right there and savor the fact that He is. He’s here, He’s real, He’s God. “Lord,” my heart cries, “You are!” I am overwhelmingly grateful. Someone bigger than me sees and cares about this weight in my heart, this confusion in my mind! God is with me—and He is in heaven.

It’s sweet to know there is a place from where He rules over the affairs of earth with unchallenged authority. It’s His home. It’s my home. When I contemplate that, my perspective changes. The concerns that brought me to my knees are quieted in the recognition of heaven’s reality.

Today, let’s be especially grateful for our Father who is in heaven, knowing that He embraces the concerns we bring, He is present in our troubles, and He reigns unopposed from His home in heaven.