This isn’t the ticket I bought.
That’s what I thought when my health took a detour and I found myself on a road I hadn’t anticipated. A road I wasn’t prepared for. A road I didn’t want to travel.
Laura Story understands how that feels. Everything radically changed after her husband was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Watching him struggle to breathe and withstand significant memory loss, Laura begged God to heal her husband and restore their lives to the way they were.
Life hadn’t been perfect, but it had been good.
Laura told her sister of her desire to return to the normal trial-free life she had before. And her sister insightfully responded, “You know Laura, I think the detour you are on is actually the road.”
The detour you are on is actually the road.
What a horrifying thought.
When my plans go awry, I always want to believe that I have taken a temporary detour. Maybe it’s a long one, but I hope that the real road, the road where I can return to being happy and fulfilled, is up ahead. Maybe it’s just around the corner if I can simply hang on.
Trusting that something better lies ahead is important. It helps me persevere in the midst of suffering. It gives me hope.
Yet at the same time, my hope cannot be in changed circumstances. I have no guarantee that my situation will improve. The hope that will never disappoint me is rooted in the person of Jesus.
I was talking to a friend about that very tension. She doesn’t know how to handle her newly developed health problems. Should she pray for healing and expect God to answer? Or should she come to terms with chronic pain and disability on this new road?
I understand her questions. I often wonder the same things myself.
Should I earnestly ask God to change my circumstances? Should I draw near to Him in prayer, write down my requests, and regularly seek Him for the things in my life that I want to see changed? Godly things. Restoration. Healing. Return to active ministry.
Or do I recognize that I am on a different road? One that may not bring the healing and restoration that I would like, but rather a closeness to Jesus that I could not get any other way.
God invites me to ask Him to change the things that I long to be different. To persevere. To trust that my prayers make a difference.
But at the same time, God bids me to accept where I am. To let Him meet me in the darkness. To find comfort in His presence.
God calls me to do both. Every day. On every road.
The old road often seems like it was more relaxing and easy to drive. The new road can be bumpy and twisty, narrow with sharp curves. And I find myself longing for the ease of what I used to have.
But the new road has benefits too, perhaps not in ease but in seeing life differently. More introspectively. Really noticing everything rather than rushing forward, oblivious to my surroundings.
But regardless of what I gain, it’s a challenge to accept that the detour is now the new road.
I struggle with that reality daily as I experience new weakness and pain with post-polio. Sometimes it’s temporary but often it’s permanent. The loss becomes the new normal. And I must adjust.
The other day I was going into a familiar building when I realized I couldn’t get up the curb without assistance. I wasn’t sure where to find a ramp so I had to ask a passerby for help. She was warm and friendly as she gave me an arm and we had an encouraging conversation as we walked in together.
Since then I have been unable to get up sidewalks without assistance. This limitation will change where I can go by myself and will require me to plan ahead.
To be honest, I don’t want to plan ahead. I don’t like limitations. And yet, like that sweet conversation I had on the way into the building, I’m sure the Lord has unexpected blessings for me along this path.
Much as I’d like to, I can’t cling to the past. I can’t get back on the old road and put everything back the way it was. That’s impossible. Some things will get better over time. Some prayers will be miraculously answered. Some dreams will come true.
But the old road is gone.
And in my mind, it will inevitably be remembered as better than it actually was. The Israelites did the same thing when they complained about their circumstances when they were delivered out of Egypt saying, “Oh that we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt that cost nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions and garlic. But now our strength is dried up and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at.” Numbers 11:4-6
The Israelites neglected to mention that even though they had food, they were slaves. Their lives in Egypt were not perfect. They had continually cried out to God to deliver them from slavery.
So don’t look back on the past and assume it was perfect. It wasn’t. Mine wasn’t perfect either.
This new road that I am on, bumpy and twisty as it may be, is the road that God has for me. It is the best road. The only road worth taking.
I am on this new road for a reason. If I keep looking back on the old way longingly, focusing on what I’ve lost rather than on what I have, I will miss the rewards of the new path. I just have to open my eyes. Notice what’s around me.
While I may always miss parts of the old road, this I can know with confidence: As I seek the Lord, He will guide my path. He will give me the grace to face the future.
I am on the right road.
And so are you.