Side Roads

As I left Virginia this afternoon, from the new year’s weekend spent with my love, I took a wrong turn. More accurately, I was on the phone with a friend (perhaps mildly distracted) when Google maps decided it would take me on the scenic route to the interstate- a three hour scenic route, to be exact. This “long cut” on January 1, 2018, provided me with lots of time to reflect on the day, and more importantly, to reflect on the events of the past year. Twenty seventeen has been a year full of challenges and surprises. I’d say most of us have experienced the same with this passing year. There have been instances which have pushed me to my limits, and others which have rained upon me like gentle blessings being sprinkled down by the Father Himself.

It has also proven to be a year of much reflection and questioning about God’s timing. Not doubting it, mind you, but just wondering WHY? I don’t think God minds when we question Him. I do believe He wants us to trust Him, but I feel certain He doesn’t mind us non-omniscient beings pondering the meaning to some of life’s questions. For example, I wonder why He allows certain things to come to us so easily, while other things seem so difficult? I wonder why He allows us to flop around in our own mistakes, and to waste so much time spinning our wheels outside the confines of the boundaries of His will for us? Why? Wouldn’t it just be easier for Him to give us the specific daily instructions we are to follow, and then we could cut out about 95% of the stress and chaos from the slings and arrows that can hit us from any direction and out of complete nowhere? Imagine a life without decision making. Every problem solved before it even happens. Knowing in advance the outcomes to each and every motion we take. Close your eyes for just a moment and imagine with me…what if every move we made was a perfectly-orchestrated step in the dance of each of our lives?

It was in my questioning that I felt I heard His quiet answer. It is in these uncertain challenges, these unforeseen circumstances, these SIDE ROADS, that we find our strength. It is when we are forced into making a decision- whether right or wrong- that we are made to stand in front of a cosmic mirror that reflects to us what we are truly made of. Better yet, WHO we are truly made of.

If you’re reading this right now, you’ve survived each and every challenge which has been put before you to this point. The same is true of me. Every hurt, every pain, every illness, every loss… we made it through, and we are still standing- hopefully stronger for it. God does allow us to have input in the choices we make daily. We may choose what we feel is right. Sometimes, we may choose what we hope is right. Other times, we may knowingly choose what we know to be wrong, or even choose to make no choice at all. Regardless, each choice has a specific and significant ripple effect through our lives. We generally have no idea in the moment how long that choice will ripple through our lives, but they do create a definite cause and effect relationship. There are choices I can pinpoint in my own life from many years back, which took mere seconds to make, that still ebb and flow through my life today. Not all of them bad. Not all of them good. But choices, nonetheless.

So, much like the side road I ventured down this cold, winter afternoon, I didn’t intentionally choose this route, but it still got me to my final destination. The truth is, in taking my side road I saw a lot of beauty I may not have otherwise had the chance to experience.

I’d like to encourage you today, on this day traditionally intentioned for resolution making and goal setting, to decide with me that this year instead of getting frustrated and disheartened by the side roads that life sets before us, instead of stepping back and away from what scares us; let’s meet these challenges with our heads held high, and with a renewed confidence in our Maker that He only has our best interests at heart. He can make beauty from ashes. He can meet us right here where we are, and will take each step moving forward with us. Then, even when we intentionally or unintentionally venture down a side road, we can rest in the assurance that we are never alone- not for one second of this marvelous journey through life.

5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Amm P. Trent
    Jan 01, 2018 @ 22:15:10

    Enjoyed Side Roads

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  2. David Jenkins
    Jan 01, 2018 @ 23:06:06

    This is beautiful Amanda, I think quite a bit wondering or thinking WHAT IF?, Should I?, I don’t know but I do. Things like when I had the terrible accident with Cheryl and her mother in the car with me. Sometimes I wonder, WHAT IF? There are so many thoughts I can add to WHAT IF?, some good and some bad and I do know some good and some bad came from the accident, one being God never leaves us no matter the situation, good or bad. As I drive the road daily where the accident happened and wonder WHAT IF?. God had a plan that day and his plan worked perfect as his plans always do but as you quoted a person cant help but wonder WHAT IF? You taking the wrong road, What if you had not taken that road, would you have wrote this beautiful story, would you have saw the beautiful scenery?, would all the beautiful thoughts be going thru your mind that you put on paper?. So, I don’t think God gets upset when we question, if anything, it wants me to dig deeper in his word to search the answers to the questions I have. One thing I do know when it comes to me thinking WHAT IF Is what if we didn’t have a savior who loves us, protects us, cares for us to get thru this daily life we live because there is another route a person can take if God is not in our heart and being a child of God as you are and a true believer, God gives us the wisdom thru his teachings the answer to the most important WHAT IF? and that what if is what if we didn’t have God in our hearts, what would happen. Being a child of God, he gives us the answer to that WHAT IF. Praise his name, this is one we will never have to worry about, because thru his blood we know the answer and are giving a choice only because God and his love to never have to answer that most important question we already know.

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    • mandaclair
      Jan 01, 2018 @ 23:09:26

      This was worded so beautifully it made me cry. Thank you for sharing this, David. Thank you for sharing your “what ifs”. Life certainly comes with its share of questions, but I am so in agreement with you about the certainty of Jesus. That’s what we have to rest our faith in. He is our constant.

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  3. Doug Gray
    Jan 02, 2018 @ 08:31:20

    Excellent, as usual, in all ways. Happy New Year, Amanda.

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  4. abby
    Jan 02, 2018 @ 16:56:41

    Abby, Your words have touched me so deeply. I love you and I am so proud of you.

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