Psalm 23: 2 – 3 “He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.”
I have been learning to drive for a couple of weeks now through lessons in a modified car (hand controls), it is a challenging and exhilarating experience so far. I have been learning to put theoretical concepts into practice from maintaining speed to driving to the conditions (dirt vs. sealed roads) all of which require following road signs. If I ignore these instructions, such as a give way sign, I would likely have a crash. The same goes for a detour sign. In 2011 and again this year in September and October my district experienced floods, as a result there were a lot of detour signs as floodwaters covered the roads. Needless to say, many road trips were made longer but the detour signs were there for our protection so we didn’t travel roads we weren’t meant to yet.
Below are some pictures from the 2011 flood:
In life I have experienced ‘detours’ when I was so certain where I was heading then that path got diverted.
When I was completing Year 12 I had finally settled on going to Melbourne and becoming a dietitian after years of being indecisive, where potential careers ranged from becoming a model to a midwife. I had a goal. I was driven. God had another plan.
Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
On telling my family of my goal to go to Melbourne and become a dietitian, one of my brothers thought it was a ridiculous idea and said “who will empty your sick bucket when you get sick?” I couldn’t believe it, I thought “You have been telling me since we were kids I could do anything I want, why can’t you be the supportive brother I know you to be now?”
Did I listen to my brother? No! Did I consult Jesus? No! I just told both of them I was going to become a dietitian in Melbourne whether they liked it or not. So I stubbornly continued with my plans and worked hard during year 12 trying to achieve the necessary ATAR and Study Scores. For my preferences, other than dietitian, I picked Law (for my Dad) and a few other random degrees. Not that it mattered – I was going to become a dietitian. Jesus was forced to step in at this point as if to say “I have better plans for you than you can even imagine”. At the end of the year, despite my hard work, I got an ATAR of less than 50 and only one offer, a Bachelor of Strategic Communication in Bendigo. I was shattered, I was standing so close when the door shut I swear that it hit my nose. In fact it took me a year and a half to get over the loss of that dream. My hurt feelings were made worse by the vast majority of my friends getting their first preferences – it didn’t seem fair. In comparison I was going to a town that held bad memories for me in the form of multiple physio appointments to a degree I barely knew what I was training in. But I knew Jesus was in it because against all odds I got an offer, some people get no offers at all and as I was taking an accommodation tour I was offered the last wheelchair accessible room on campus – I hadn’t even gone to the university’s open day to express my interest.
Yes my plans changed completely but the core dream was still there – to go to university and achieve a degree – which I can happily say I did, I finally got my cap and gown moment I had always hoped for. But if I had ignored the detour sign I doubt my dream would have been realised. You see, for a long time I have struggled with anxiety, stress, worry and fear, I am fighting back, but at the time these four shadows were very strong; so being three hours away from my support network in hindsight would probably not have been one of my brightest ideas (think emotional mess).
Jesus wanted me to not just survive but thrive in my detoured experience of university. I was able to pass well and He blessed me with beautiful friends that if I had continued with the original plan I would never have met (insert sad emoji face here).
This year has been another detour sign experience. Naturally what follows graduating university is getting a job. In reality I haven’t been able to secure paid work, despite searching and applying. I am not going to lie, it has been frustrating and heartbreaking with many tears as I wonder “why, why another delay in my dreams?” It has taken me nearly all year to discover Jesus’ purpose in the detour. In the waiting. I believe Jesus used this year to heal me, restore me and prepare me in order to be ready to step into the next chapter in the adventure of life in His perfect timing.
If I had landed the job I wanted and everything had gone according to my plan I wouldn’t have had time to fight back against the four dark shadows of anxiety, stress, worry and fear which have been in my life for as long as I can remember. Jesus was leading me on a detour in order to have healing and freedom.
Mandy Hale, author of Beautiful Uncertainty, writes this about waiting and detours:
“There is so much God longs to do in your life if you will only surrender it to Him. His plan and His timing are so much better than ours. Please trust me on this one. Sometimes even your longest – held dream just isn’t part of God’s better – than – good plan for your life, and sometimes your dream just needs to simmer a bit longer. Or even be tweaked a little or rewritten altogether.”
Is it hard? Yes. Have there been tears? Absolutely. But as odd as it sounds in many ways I wouldn’t trade the detour. When everything hasn’t gone to our plan and we have to travel the road of an unexpected detour it doesn’t mean we are outside of the plan for our life, there is a purpose in everything.