Orange & White Barrels by Van Walton
“I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths… I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.” Isaiah 42:16 (NIV)
Last spring I monotonously approached my neighborhood exit where a newly posted sign announced that I could not make my normal left turn. Lined up on the road as far as I could see around the bend was a neatly laid row of orange and white barrels. Road construction had interrupted my usual routine.
My daily plans would now be detoured due to the construction. Faced with this disruption that would surely put a kink in my life, I felt agitated and even hit the steering wheel with my fist. I would have to design new ways to reach my destinations and I wasn’t happy about it.
One day when construction was completed enough to allow some through traffic, I turned left and surveyed the sights. I couldn’t believe what I saw. No more lovely forest. Gone were the inviting trails into the woods. Decades-old wooden fences and bridges had disappeared. Honestly, the place resembled the combined affects of earthquake and fire. That whole summer I rolled up to the intersection with its orange and white barrels, and it triggered in me negative thoughts and feelings.
Soon after, my life was more seriously interrupted. A disturbing phone call forced me to drop everything. The bad news exploded like a bomb - my heart and mind quaked with emotion. Spiritual frustration filled my soul in the following months. I can’t remember how many times my fist hit hard places. I screamed at God when life carried me away from the direction I wanted to take.
“How long will You take me out of my way?” I questioned God. I longed for my life before the interruption. Managing my days on autopilot was no longer an option as I faced my new circumstances. Slowly I began to see that this spiritual reconstruction paralleled the roadwork outside my neighborhood.
Once all the orange and white barrels were gone and I was free to turn left at that intersection, I appreciated the results. Smooth asphalt spread out before me. Two lanes of traffic moved steadily. The “earthquake zone” had been transformed into a park-like setting. A tree-lined sidewalk encouraged pedestrians to walk toward the ballpark and the neighborhood church. Admiring the new landscape, I realized I’d been inconvenienced, but now I could see that the long delays were worthwhile.
Today, although my life continues to zigzag through various “construction sites,” I realize God allowed me to experience the orange and white-barreled roads to illustrate a truth. He is at work up ahead rearranging the landscape of my life. Psalm 37:34 says, “Put your hope in the Lord. Travel steadily along his path. He will honor you by giving you the land.” (NLT)
I may not be able to see what that land looks like, but I believe His Word. So, with His help, I put my hope in Him, traveling the paths He lays out for me, even though they are not the familiar roads I would normally take.
Father God, You know how difficult life is right now. My interrupted life and the difficult roads You have me traveling feel like they’ll break me. Give me the capacity to graciously travel the paths You lay out before me. Help me trust You, In Jesus’ name, Amen.