As you already know, I was in Dallas on Monday and flew home Tuesday afternoon, arriving about 4:30 pm in Indy. Not wanting to deal with the heavy traffic heading north from the airport, I decided to swing past the cafeteria in Greenwood and head home from there after the rush hour was over. So, I started the trip south and within a mile or so found myself in bumper to bumper traffic.
As I gazed down the road, the back-up went as far as I could see and I was at a dead stop most of the time. Within several minutes, I heard the sound of sirens, the flash of red and blue colored lights and several ambulances coming through on the shoulder of the road. No exit in sight – just stopped, obviously for an accident. The next 60 minutes I moved less than 1/2 mile, and finally, more than 90 minutes after I left the airport, I could see the problem. The entire road was closed – no lanes open – and cars were being directed onto the shoulder of the road to get past what remained of the burned out truck cab and the several cars around it.
To this moment, I don’t know what happened – the people had been removed by the time I reached the scene and although I was glad to be home safely, it did set the schedule for the evening back quite a bit. I probably wouldn’t have given it another thought, but tonight, Janet and I were back at the airport picking up our niece Emily, who is a freshman at Butler this year. She had gone home to Williamsburg for the week-end and her plane arrived here in Indy at 6:30 pm.
We left the airport planning on returning her to Butler within 30 minutes or so, but just as I was getting ready for the ramp that would take us north toward the campus, guess what! Those familiar flashing lights and the sound of sirens. Sure enough, it was raining and apparently, a truck had slid on the ramp and somehow engaged another car or two – resulting in the entire road being closed. Deja vu! The second time this week that I was in a line of traffic stuck at a dead stop. This time, luckily, we were near another ramp and the police directed us to head south and move around the city in a different direction. While it wasn’t ideal, at least we were moving, sometimes in the opposite direction from our destination. Eventually we were able to drop off Emily and then start the trek back to our home. We had been delayed more than an hour all told, but now we are home, safe and sound.
I am reminded that this is how our lives go – rarely as smooth and fast as we would like. We have a plan in mind and many times we get stuck in a detour. Sometimes, we are unable to move in any direction – stopped in our tracks, as it were. Other times, we are able to move, but it is in a different direction from the one that we wanted. Causes of the delay could be anything from sickness to job loss (and everything in between) and most of the time, our families are affected in the mess.
Regardless of the cause of the back-up, there are certain things that we can expect when we have to deviate from our course. Generally, it is messy – dusty and dirty – and it takes longer than the original plan. Sometimes, we don’t even know the route we are taking once we get off the main track. We have to go through unfamiliar areas and it is easy to be distracted by the landscape. Of course, we get a little angry or amped up that things aren’t going our way and we can’t wait for the detour to end – we want to get back to where we had planned to be.
Sometimes, I think these things happen to us because God wants us to learn something. Maybe it’s patience, or perhaps it is flexibility. Or perhaps God is pruning us a little in preparation for our next assignment. Because usually when God is involved, one of the lessons He teaches us is that it isn’t all about us… it’s about Him. And if we are smart, you can be sure that your faith will take a leap forward in the process.
Even the best of us need some pruning from time to time. The Scripture tells us that God does this so we will bear much fruit. And sometimes pruning isn’t a whole lot of fun. The verse for tonight is from John 15:5-6, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.”
My encouragement this evening is that God wants you to bear much fruit. My prayer is that when the time for pruning comes and you suffer one of those holy detours, you will have faith that God has bigger plans for you and that you are being prepared for your next assignment. In the meantime, have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…