One summer I lived about fifteen miles and 500,000 orange barrels north of where the rest of my life took place. When I wanted to drive from home to church, I had to be either really creative or really patient – and sometimes both. When I wanted to drive from home to work and actually get there on time, I had to leave early and share the road with dozens of other misplaced morning commuters.
I don’t know many people who cheer when the tell-tale barrels, barricades, and caution signs sprout like grass along our highways and byways. Most of us grumble about the inconvenience. At the very least, construction means nasty bumps in the road, and at the very worst, it means great delays and travel along unplanned routes. It doesn’t matter that the goal of construction is to improve our driving conditions; living through the process can be one long headache.
If you’ve lived long enough, you’ve discovered that life can be like road construction. We’re all on a journey from birth to death and the life beyond, but sometimes the process is beleaguered by bumps, delays, and detours. And while God’s ultimate design is for our good, living through the difficulties can be a challenge we’d rather avoid. I don’t like life construction any more than you do, but I’ve discovered a couple things that make the inevitable obstacles a little less threatening.
- Bumps aren’t so bad when I slow down. Racing over them at posted speed limits is like asking for permanent rearrangement of my internal organs. When the bumps threaten to jar my world, I need to slow down. Slow my pace and deliberate over the little things a tad longer than usual; refuse to succumb to the rat-raced pace that endangers my attitude. Instead, slowing down in the middle of the bumps lets me savor the company of my Map Maker.
- Delays create opportunities to clean house (or car, as it were.) I get some of my best car cleaning done when traffic is crawling. I collect garbage, take inventory of my back seat, and stuff things in my glove compartment. When God sends a delay into my life schedule, it helps if I use it as an opportunity to take inventory—figuring out where I’ve been, where I’m going, and what exactly God might be up to while I’m waiting to get from one place to the next.
- Detours don’t have to be a drag. I’ve learned to love the unplanned route. I’ve discovered new neighborhoods and traveled side streets I never knew existed. It makes driving an adventure. When I find my life on an unplanned route, it helps to try enjoying the change of scenery and relishing the adventure instead of griping about the inconvenience. Construction season will pass, and when it does, comes winter. Maybe the orange barrels aren’t so bad after all.
“Therefore, we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” (2 Corinthians 4:16–17)