Alternate Routes and Detours

Earlier this week, my morning commute had been interrupted by street closures along two different routes including an alternate one. The first day, I had to detour off of the main drag in order to get to work. I arrived with barely five minutes to spare. The next day, I decided to take the alternate route, but it had been closed, too; however, the main route still remained marked off. Rush hour traffic is rush hour traffic. There’s a reason we call it that in the morning and afternoon. How do I respond in this moment? Well, the pressure rose because the clock continued ticking closer to 8am. Time is indifferent toward my predicament.

I thought I had done a clever thing by driving an alternate route to work. It was a conscious decision to avoid the street closure on the main route. Instead, I drove into another closure: blocked at all points. Once again, I arrived at work with barely enough time to get the facility ready. In that situation, I took a few deep breaths, and accepted the later than the usual arrival time. There was no way around it. Harping over the road closure wouldn’t solve anything except increase my stress or pressure. The key thing remained to arrive at work before 8am. It didn’t matter how much before eight o’clock.

One thing I learned about myself is that I know my way around the city streets to and from work. Granted, I’ve lived in Los Angeles for nearly fifteen years, so one would hope that I’ve learned the streets. It turns out that I have, which came in handy earlier this week. In many ways, I’m one of those drivers who deliberately takes different routes to and from work, or to and from where I live to various parts of Los Angeles. Part of me likes driving through different areas, and I want to learn multiple ways of getting to and from places. It’s a win win situation all around for me. This set my mind thinking about alternate routes in my spiritual journey.

The path hasn’t been a straight line. There have been many twists and turns. Despite those detours, I still find myself moving closer to desired destinations. This is where trust and faith come to play. Our Lord continues to test my faith and trust in him. Just like those street closures, I face unexpected situations every day. In fact, I’ll even see something coming my way on the horizon and take steps to prepare for it. I responded that way earlier this week by choosing to take an alternate route to work. I knew that the main route to work would be closed, and the alternate one made the most sense. Both days, I arrived to work later than I’d wanted to, but still on time. I still felt the pressure to arrive on time and to navigate the rush hour traffic.

Scholars have attributed Psalm 26 to King David. In light of this past week, the Psalmist’s words hit hard, but they comfort, too. The following verse jumps out at me, refusing to remain silent: “Prove me, O Lord, and try me; test my heart and my mind” (Psalm 26:2, ESV). King David prays, petitions, the Lord to prove him, to test him in his deepest parts, which is the meaning of the word heart in the original Hebrew. Is that my prayer? I don’t know. There’s something unsettling about that verse. The conundrum is that I want the fruit of testing without the testing. “Give me the benefits of faith and trust without exhibiting faith and trust.” Obviously, the Lord doesn’t honor that heart attitude. Something tells me that I’m not alone in harboring that type of attitude.

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