what we need to know when life takes a detour

September 7, 2016 | 4 comments

My suitcase was packed. Every item on the to-do list had been crossed off. And we had left for the airport with plenty of time to spare.

We took the swiftest route to the airport from our Iowa farm — a quick shot up the county highway, into Minnesota. Thousands of acres of lush fields blurred past us.

I was looking forward to a great week ahead — meeting with my publisher, and later serving at a conference in Tennessee. To top it off, my husband would fly out separately to meet me in Nashville to celebrate our wedding anniversary. The girls were eager to evict us, because they were about to embark on a week at Grandma Camp.

In the back seat, the girls buzzed with stories, questions, and beat-box rhythms.

Then my phone rang. It was my travel agent.

“I don’t have good news. Your flight’s delayed. I’m not sure you’ll catch your connecting flight.”

I told her that we’d continue toward the airport, assuming the best.

The best didn’t happen. The phone rang again.

“I’m sorry to tell you this, but all of your flights have been canceled.”

The beat-boxers went quiet. My heart dropped into my stomach.

The travel agent said my only chance was this: Drive three hours to catch a different plane in Nebraska. But I’d need to hurry.

In one skinny minute, my grand plans seemed to fall apart.

I dropped off my family, and set out for Nebraska alone, skidding into the airport just in time. I couldn’t help but laugh with relief when I finally reached the gate for my flight. I texted a friend, “I’m about to step onto my first flight of the day, and already, the wheels of my car have driven into four different states: Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota, and Nebraska.”

Why am I telling you my crazy travel story?

Because some of you are on a life journey that isn’t making sense.

You had it all worked out, but in one skinny minute, the plan unraveled. Because you’re an optimist, you hoped for the best. Then things cruelly turned from bad to worse.

Maybe today you’re at a fork in the road or stuck at a dead end. Perhaps you’ve lost the map and can’t find true north anymore. And like me, as I headed for Nebraska, you’re not sure if you’re going to make it.

When I finally stepped onto the plane that afternoon, and flopped down in my seat, the sun shone brightly through the oval window. The light glinted off of my bracelet. It was a bracelet that I hadn’t worn in months, but for whatever reason, I had slipped it around my wrist before walking out the door.

I ran my fingers along the scripted words on the bracelet: Embrace the Journey. It was an eye-opening moment for me.

What You Need To Know When Life Takes a Detour

The bracelet reminded me that in Jesus, detours are never wasted. It reminded me that I miss so much of this life’s journey because I’ve got my eyes glued on tomorrow. But God is saying to us: “Be on the lookout. Embrace the now.”

You know, we all have a lot of destinations during our years on earth, but we’ll miss most of our actual life if we don’t pay attention to the actual journey. The most important reasons for moving from one spot to the next might have very little to do with arriving. The most important reasons are revealed in the in-between — the rest stops where you sought refuge, the fork in the road where you had to lean into the wisdom of God, the dead ends where Jesus gently turned you around.

I still don’t know for sure what God intended with my rerouted journey. There were no spectacular moments where God made some Grand Plan known to me. Maybe it was the encounter I had with a frazzled mom on the plane. Her little boy wouldn’t stop screaming. “We’ve all been there,” I reassured her. “I can see how much you love your kids. You’re doing great.” Or maybe I was intended to cross paths with that sweet grandma in the airport who promised to pray that I made it to my destination safely.

Maybe it happened, simply so I could tell you this story.

This I know: every reroute in life is swollen with the possibility of redemption.

Maybe the reasons for our detours are hiding like gems underneath all of the un-spectacular-ness. Maybe we’ll have to wait all the way until heaven to find out.

Until then, I can almost hear Him whispering: “Just wait, my daughter. It will all make sense someday. Until then, embrace the journey.”

Embrace the journey

If you liked this post, you’ll love the Experiencer chapter of The Happiness Dare.

To find out if you are an Experiencer — or another Happiness Style — take the quiz here. 

by | September 7, 2016 | 4 comments


  1. Angel1111

    Embrace the journey…….On Sunday September 11, I will be fully embracing my journey with the Lord. It will be the day that I am baptized into a loving church community. I have steered away from this for one reason only……Fear. I have experienced rejection time and time again. Reading The Happiness Dare has given me the courage to do things I have never done before. I am a thinker and a giver according to the happiness assessment test. I can now say I can be an experiencer also. I want to experience all that life has to offer me.

  2. Paige Estes

    “…in Jesus, detours are never wasted. It reminded me that I miss so much of this life’s journey because I’ve got my eyes glued on tomorrow. But God is saying to us: “Be on the lookout. Embrace the now.” Love this. I fall into this quite a bit. But if I choose to stop and look up, a lot of the best moments are in the “in-betweens.” Thanks, Jennifer for sharing this morning.

  3. Theresa Boedeker

    Love the reminder to embrace the journey, detours and all. I’m also pretty sure Christ’s life was full of detours and failed plans and interruptions. The crowds and disciples and others always wanting something or even more from him. Yet wasn’t that part of doing the Father’s work?

  4. Nancy Ruegg

    More wisdom to savor here: In Jesus, detours are never wasted…We can miss much of life’s journey because our eyes are glued on tomorrow. But God is saying to us: “Be on the lookout. Embrace the now.” Thank you, Jennifer, for these encouraging thoughts, and your story that proves the truth of your words.


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