A few years ago to celebrate graduation from seminary I went on a trip out west. My ride- along companion was my trusty much-needed GPS. Without it I would not have made it beyond South Dakota. I really have no sense of direction as to what is north, south, east or west. My daughter thinks that whichever direction I feel is the right way to go I should turn the opposite direction because then I would probably be going the correct direction. If you want me to visit, you need to describe important landmarks or better yet provide me with your address and I will give it to Siri and she will guide me.
Taking detours is familiar to most of us especially during the endless season of road construction. In the southern states this season is all year long! How many times have you seen a “road closed” sign along one that said “detour” with a big black arrow pointing in one direction or another? Detours can happen at the most inconvenient times especially when we are in the biggest hurry and we are forced to take the long way around.
During a discussion with a friend about how life can sometimes throw us a detour when least expected, we end up far from our original plan. She mentioned that her mom always says that, “God writes in crooked lines.” Trust me, I had to think about that sentence for a while and what it might mean? What I discovered is that this simple sentence captures the meaning of grace. I grew up in church hearing sermons that assured us the path to eternal life is straight and narrow. Whenever I heard that sermon, my eyes glazed over with fear and a commitment to never step off the path or be caught on the wide road to destruction. Most of us have good intentions to walk our path in a straight line, however life happens and we end up taking unplanned detours. Some of those detours can be things like bad relationships or chemical dependency, which can stretch into years of pain and heartache. The crooked lines of our brokenness can take us through hills and valleys filled with darkness and with a yearning to get back on track.
There have been times when I have wandered into the wilderness of longing and loneliness, climbed mountains that required courage and strength, wept in the valleys of hurt and pain and rested beside the still waters. What I have come to realize is that my family and friends walked with me in my darkest hours and my faith carried me through all of the crookedness and detours. Much like the unintended detours of my GPS, the path of life may be fraught with wrong turns and misdirection but God’s grace and forgiveness will realign our crooked lines with divine direction. Hey maybe my GPS could take lessons!