What in the World - A Detour

Before my mom and dad go to work in the morning, they kiss me on the top of my head, scratch my ears, and give me a cookie. Then, when they leave, they close the door behind them with me watching their exit from a window. At the end of the day, when they open that same door upon their return, their eyebrows pull all the way up to their foreheads at the sight of me. Their bodies start wiggling with excitement. Their arms drop all their belongings, and suddenly my mom and dad are rolling around the floor playing with me as if I had been frozen in time during their absence and needed to be revived. Life with me picked up for my parents where they thought they left it – on their side of the door. In their minds, whatever happened with me behind the door in their absence, between its closing and its opening, didn’t.

And I used to take advantage of that, especially in our early years as a family. Mom and dad would kiss my head, tussle my ears, give me a cookie, and tell me to have a great day. Then they would close the door behind them as they left for work, thinking I was frozen (again) in some abyss. Except, I wasn’t. Life and time stayed with me as much as they thought it went with them, and I would have a great day!

​Picture frames laughed their way off tabletops with their corners grinning with teeth marks. Blankets whirled off the beds and wrestled down the hallway in the greatest matches ever. And once, my dad’s Bible did this incredible confetti trick that covered the whole house in easy-to-digest pieces of God’s word. It was ah-MAY-zing! 

But my mom and dad… they saw things differently. When they came home and found the picture frames or the blankets or dad’s Bible askew, they would say, “What in the world happened?”

Exactly! I’d frankly stare back at them.

(I was no better at forming human words with my canine tongue as a puppy than I am now, so I mastered frank stares quite early in life.)

Exactly! The world did not stop happening here with me just because you closed the door and were somewhere else!

The world happens.

Where you are and where you are not.

It’s a significant fact that one should keep in his or her front pocket, not in the back pocket. Being canine, I have no pockets. Thus, I keep such matters of significance in the front of my mind, not in the back of it.

Why? Because the circumstances where one is not also constitute important details about him or her… usually by way of a detour, which Mr. Webster and the Merriam brothers describe as “a roundabout way temporarily replacing a route.”

Like my dad’s Bible and its amazing, digestible confetti trick. My dad wasn’t there when the Word of God snowed all over the living room, down the hall, and into part of the kitchen. The effect of the event, however, caused my dad to take a detour – a roundabout way that temporarily replaced his plan of coming home, pulling his eyebrows to his forehead, and wiggling on the floor with me.

Instead, my dad was rerouted to an unexpected, quiet walk around the block all to himself. And that detour revealed an interesting detail about my dad that I did not know before such circumstances occurred: Long walks alone with some fresh air help him keep his cool – not the snowstorm kind of cool, but the kind that means to have a particular calmness in one’s response and a sensible approach in his or her thinking.

Life happens on the other side of our doors and often brings about detours to our own plans that help us learn something more about ourselves, about others, and even about God. Detours help us recognize how Jesus is working to bring together the happenings of where we are not with all the pieces of where we are. [1]

Like quarantine and learning that the neighbor who used to simply wave from his driveway pre-pandemic actually has a hilariously keen sense of neighborhood observation.

Like cancer and turning a one-time meal for a family into a bi-weekly ice cream run with them to savor laughter.

Like suffering and making a cup of coffee the first step toward walking together in one another’s humanity in ways politics and power cannot.

Or exhaustion from all of the above and choosing to set down the crayons for three weeks despite the pressure to post the next "best" blog, because a set of ears to scratch and a soft nose to nuzzle somehow lightens the weight of what’s happening in the world.

And a lot is happening. There always is, and this year has been full of detours from events that perhaps happened where we are not.

Those detours revealed two important details about our family: 

  1. It takes roughly four weeks of quarantine for mommy and daddy to stop getting on each other's nerves and to settle into their work-from-home routines. (I also learned that, given the opportunity, mommy will wear running shorts and a ratty t-shirt every day of the week, every week and treat deodorant as optional... but that's not important here.)
  2. The One who has prepared us for these very things is God himself, who has given us his Spirit as a guarantee; So, we can continue to be of good courage.[2]

You can be of good courage, even in the roundabout ways that temporarily reroute your plans, because God has prepared you. Jesus is revealing something to you, and the Holy Spirit has sealed you.

So, then...

  • What in the world is happening where you are not?
  • What kind of detours may those events be causing to your plans?
  • Name something the detour has taught or is teaching you about yourself. About God? About others on the other side of your door?
  • How has a detour helped you see past your own plans and possibly see Jesus’ purpose a bit more clearly?




[1] Romans 11:36, Colossians 1:15-20
[2] 2 Corinthians 5:5-6a

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