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  • Writer's pictureLindsay Bruce


Let’s talk about detours.

The space between where you thought you were going and where you’ve currently ended up. It’s the unexpected windy road. The yellow sign on life’s roadway. The ‘de’ in the word immediately tells us all we need to know: this road is not the road we expected.

2020 in every sense has been a detour. None of us expected to be still circling the roundabout of lockdown, or wending our way off the motorway onto unpredictable, lesser known pathways.

Some feel it’s detracting, distracting and detouring us away to one side while unseen things take ground; where our focus has been where we are now not what the future will look like when we’re back on the right road. Others feel the detour is more of a divine interruption - taking us through places where we’ve seen - maybe for the first time - things that were there all along. Things that were always important to the Lord but our choice to stick to well worn roads meant a detour was necessary. Then there are the little detours; little in the scheme of all humanity but perhaps life altering for us.

At the end of 2019 I don’t think anyone in my community envisaged the loss of one of our treasured young adults to Covid 14 months later. He’s ‘just’ one person of many, but it was ‘just’ devastating to us. And will have caused unseen or unspeakable detours.

Two years ago God began nudging us to consider ministry again, with specific whispers about Scotland. Let’s just say cancer was an unexpected detour. One little cancer - huge ramifications for us.

But here’s the thing: a detour is only a detour to the person expecting another way.

Exodus 13:17-19 has come to be a closely held favourite.

“When Pharaoh finally let the people go, God did not lead them along the main road that runs through Philistine territory, even though that was the shortest route to the Promised Land. God said, “If the people are faced with a battle, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” So God led them in a roundabout way through the wilderness toward the Red Sea. Thus the Israelites left Egypt like an army ready for battle.”

There was a main road.

It was the shorter road.

It was the expected road.

The Red Sea was a detour.

But in the Lord taking that way they avoided other battles, other roadblocks, and when they go to the promised land they were ready for what lay ahead.

Last summer we had a week wild camping in our car without the kids, in the Scottish Highlands. We plotted places where we knew we could park overnight but the daytime travel was less orchestrated. Knowing Nathan loves waterfalls I suggested a detour to Corrieshalloch Gorge. One of the most speculator of its kind there’s a 100 m drop and an amazing viewing point. I grew up in Scotland but had never been. And we visited in the 10 day window of 2020 where we were allowed to travel.

At the top of the gorge, in this unplanned stop off, I turn round and right there is my friend’s aunty. I haven’t seen her for 20 years. In the short exchange she tells me about a detour they took the day before that led them to a beautiful beach. We listened and then decided to detour ourselves, to visit the place also.

As we began the journey there it was abundantly clear that without that interaction, without a specific story of what to look for, we would NEVER have seen this wonderful place. My happy place is wild swimming.

We found my happy place.

This detour friends, whether the big collective Covid one, or the individual roundabouts we are circling, though difficult, and requires of us what we hadn’t foreseen, good can come.

I’m not being trite. I’m telling you, this interruption... let it do something in us. Whether that’s to be more resolved in a stance because we never want to be detoured again, or whether it’s to appreciate life and it’s fragility, or to be grateful for all that we have… Let it shape us for what only the map-writer knows is to come.

Just as an aside: Pain doesn’t mean we are doing things wrong. It means we are dealing with one aspect of the full human experience.

Joy doesn’t always mean we are doing it right. Plenty of bad things leave us with a temporal happiness. So while we remain in the space between what can we learn today from being here? What can we see that we wouldn’t have without this?

What are we grateful for?

What has this done in us?

(Ps: The gorge we saw - translated from Gaelic means ugly hollow. It’s spectacular, but I’m guessing the person naming it wasn’t marvelling in wonder - he was probably exhausted from the uphill struggle.

I’ve filed it on my phone as ‘wow’.)

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1 Comment

Mar 26, 2021

This is so good! Thank you. You have articulated something I've been feeling but struggling to quantify. I definitely needed to read this tonight. 🙂

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