I should arrive in a little over an hour, I thought and celebrated the light traffic and smooth travels so far.
Then suddenly, I saw brake lights in front of me. I stopped.
Hopefully, just a short delay. I certainly experienced many of those on the frequent trips I took to see my parents in Vero Beach. A bright orange sign on the side of the road announced, “Accident ahead.”
I looked at the clock. A few minutes before 2:00pm.
For an hour traffic crept forward, it seemed inches at a time. I searched google for any information about accidents on SR 60 near Lake Wales. I found nothing.
As I moved closer to where I saw a police car, I noticed vehicles turned right onto a road ahead. I wondered where that road led. I looked for a map of Florida in the car. I couldn’t find one. I tried to pull up a map on my phone, but saw nothing with clear routes through the state. As far as I knew, from this point SR 60 remained the one way to Vero Beach.
When I reached the police officer, he explained the delay would last hours.
“It’s best for you to turn right at the next road. Take it as far as it goes, turn left on 27 and then left on 70 and go to I95 and then Vero,” he said.
“It will take a long time, but it’s better than sitting here on the road,” he added.
I turned right onto a two-lane highway. Soon I found myself in the town of Frostproof. I heard of that town repeatedly in my 40 years in Florida, but never drove through it before. I stopped at a convenience store, called my parents and then went inside to ask the clerk how she thought I should get to Vero. She repeated the officer’s directions.
I turned on the GPS on my phone, which I rarely used, and it told me to turn right shortly after the store. Then it said to turn right again, and I found myself at a dead end. I turned around, and it then led me to an intersection near the store. It The voice instructed me to turn right, and then right and then right again. No mapped out route showed on the screen.
I turned it off and headed back to the road I drove on after SR 60 and resumed the instruction from the officer to go as far as it would take me.
As I drove and drove, I wondered if I heard right. The officer did say it would take a long time. I turned on my GPS again, but it told me to make a U-turn, apparently in an attempt to lead me back to SR 60. No help there.
I stopped at a couple gas stations to ask for maps of Florida. They had none. People tried to give me directions again, but I wanted to see it on a map—a big map—not the puny one on my telephone. One clerk suggested I try a CVS drug store. The clerk there said, “We haven’t had maps since this store was called Eckerd’s—years ago.”
I fretted about wasted gas, time, and energy on this detour.
Weary of driving, I wondered if I’d get to Vero before dark. I called my parents again to assure them of my safety and said, “I’ll get there when I get there.”
I needed gas, so I stopped at a Shell station. Yay! They had maps, so I bought one and studied it in the parking lot.
Yes, I could see proof of what the police officer said about “a long time.” I wondered if perhaps I should have stopped at a coffee shop somewhere near 60 and waited out the accident. Already 5:30pm, it looked like at least a couple hours more drive time lay ahead.
I decided to make the best of the detour. Music from the radio lifted my spirits. I determined to enjoy the scenery in towns I never went through before such as Sebring and Lake Placid. I prayed for the people who lived there.
After a while I turned the radio off and praise flowed from my mouth to the Lord as well as prayers for family, extended family, my church, my coworkers and whoever else came to mind. I sensed God’s presence in a mighty way in my car as I determined to let go of self-pity and anxiety over my extended detour. I also sensed His love wash over me, and I thanked Him for loving me so much.
I thought of spiritual detours in my life. My mind insisted spiritual growth or goals for myself come quickly and easily, but sometimes God called me to take a detour. I could choose to get worked up over the detour, or I could accept it, make the best of it, and even determine to have joy on the journey.
(Joseph comes to mind when I think of those in the Bible whom God took on spiritual detours. His attitude remained stellar. See Genesis 39-50)
Often in my spiritual life I complain, This is taking so long. I feel like I’ll never get there.
My map promised me I would get to Vero. God’s Word promises me I will reach my spiritual destinations.
Almost eight hours after leaving home—close to 7:30pm–I pulled into my parents’ driveway. I found out later the delay on 60 lasted six hours, and the road didn’t open until 6:00pm.
Arrival felt like a huge victory.
“Arrival” in my spiritual life feels the same way. However in those areas where God calls me to take “the long way around” to get there, I choose to maintain joy on the journey.
I praise God for using a detour on the road to remind me of truths in my spiritual life.
“But thanks be to God, Who in Christ always leads us in triumph [as trophies of Christ’s victory]…” 2 Corinthians 2:14a
Here’s one of the songs I heard on the radio during my detour, which lifted my spirits and brought me truth.
Tauren Wells – Hills and Valleys (Acoustic Video)
Lyrics to Hills and Valleys:
By Tauren Wells
I’ve walked among the shadows
You wiped my tears away
And I’ve felt the pain of heartbreak
And I’ve seen the brighter days
And I’ve prayed prayers to heaven from my lowest place
And I have held the blessings
God, you give and take away.
No matter what I have, Your grace is enough.
No matter where I am, I’m standing in Your love.
On the mountains, I will bow my life
To the one who set me there.
In the valley, I will lift my eyes to the one who sees me there.
When I’m standing on the mountain, didn’t get there on my own
When I’m walking through the valley, no I am not alone!
You’re God of the hills and valleys!
Hills and Valleys!
God of the hills and valleys
And I am not alone!
I’ve watched my dreams get broken
In you I hope again!
No matter what I know