Welcome to First Presbyterian Church of Independence Iowa!
Life rarely goes the way we want or expect. Can I get an Amen? Stuff happens. Sometimes we see it coming. A lot of times we don’t. So when life takes you off on a detour, how do you handle it?
Last Saturday I was traveling from Philadelphia to Cedar Rapids. The first leg of my trip took me into Detroit. It was snowing when we arrived in Detroit. And according to all reports it was snowing in Cedar Rapids. I was nervous. The time came to board our plane. We boarded and began taxing for takeoff. I started to relax. Then this disembodied voice was heard, “Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain and I have some bad news.” The Cedar Rapids airport had just closed.
We returned to the gate and got off the plane. I found a Delta agent to assist me with rescheduling. She was very helpful and offered to put me on a plane Tuesday morning. I asked about going to Minneapolis. There was a flight I could get on for Minneapolis at 8:30 the next morning. Now there are two things about this that are interesting. First, my wife was in Minneapolis visiting our daughter and she had our car there. Second, my mom has not been in good health and this detour would allow me an unexpected opportunity to visit her.
Now there was a downside to all of this. I would miss worship on Sunday and I would also have to overnight in Detroit. I made a quick call to our worship team chairperson. She stepped right in to handle the worship arrangements. (What a blessing to have capable and willing leadership in our churches!) There was nothing to be done about overnighting in Detroit. I did get a comfortable room at a Best Western. The only other loose end was my luggage which was MIA.
I arrived in Minneapolis on Sunday. I spent a wonderful day with my parents and my kids in Minneapolis. My wife and I drove home Monday morning and my luggage showed up Monday night. It was not the trip I had planned and expected. But the detour ended up being a real blessing. And perhaps it was the trip God wanted me to be on.
There is so much we do not understand. And when life gives us a detour we often fight against it and complain bitterly. The apostle Paul offers a little different perspective. “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.” Paul is talking about how hard life can be and how it doesn’t always go the way we want it to. But he offers us this consideration: no matter how your life is going God is present and God is at work doing things.
Think about the detours of your life. Some of the best stories you like to tell others involve life’s detours. I will bet each of us has some fond memories of times when life didn’t go the way we expected, times that made you laugh and made you cry. You have learned some of life’s most valuable lessons on the hard, unexpected roads you have traveled. When we love God and strive to live for God things can work out for the good.
The next time life gives you a detour, remember God’s word to you, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” On life’s journey you are not alone. God has given you family and friends, and even the occasional stranger to travel with. But most importantly God promises to go with us. You may lose your luggage, but you can’t lose God. Or maybe more to the point, God never loses you.