I hate ‘em. Never have liked them. A detour is a setback. A detour means that something unplanned is impeding my progress, and I’m gonna have to go around it. Detours take longer. Detours often mean backtracking. (Which I also hate.) I’m pretty much a point A to point B guy. Whatever is the fastest way to get somewhere, that’s the one I want. In fact, I keep Google maps set on “fastest route.” Not shortest. Not without tolls. I’ll happily pay a toll if it’ll get me there faster.

You know what else I hate about detours? You’re never quite sure how long they are. You just keep following the next orange sign with an arrow. Sometimes it feels like you’re going in circles, not getting anywhere. When are we ever gonna get back on track here? Sometimes a detour can be so long, you just want to quit. Turn back. I’ll take this trip another time. 

Webster defines “detour” as: an indirect way replacing part of a route. An indirect way. In other words, you’re still “on route,” but indirectly. So while a detour is a setback, it doesn’t have to derail the whole trip. It’s just gonna take you a little longer to get there.

I had a detour this week. 

Last weekend I took a group of folks on a 22-mile backpacking trip on the Appalachian Trail. We ended up having some extreme weather (freezing rain, wind chills below zero) so I had to cut the trip a day short to ensure everyone’s safety. Which meant, we had a long 10-mile hike out of the wilderness on the last day. Because of the weather conditions and some other unforeseen factors, the whole trip stressed my body big-time, and I ended up with a brutal sinus infection this week. Oh, and I’m also having some major stomach issues that demanded I go to the doctor this week. (My worst nightmare.)

A setback. More like a series of setbacks, really

As a result, I had to cancel all of my appointments in the second half of the week, I wasn’t able to write 500 words a day, and I got behind on preparation for two talks I’m giving next week. It was so discouraging. 

But I’m not gonna let a detour derail my progress!

It reminded me of the story Jesus told about a farmer sowing seed. He talks about four different types of soil, and detours reminded me of the second soil. “Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution (or a detour) comes because of the word, they quickly fall away.” (Mark 4:16-18, NIV) Later on, Jesus talks about the seed that bears much fruit, in His words, “by persevering.” In other words, we have to persevere through trouble, sickness, persecution, and any other detour, so we can bear fruit in the long run.

So don’t be discouraged if you’re not quite where you wanted to be right now. Keep making progress. Maybe like me, you didn’t get as much accomplished this week as you planned. Then show up again next week. Keep making progress. Don’t let a detour become a dead end. Even though I didn’t get near as much done this week as I hoped, I’m still making progress.

I got this blog post out, didn’t I? ;-)

Photo by Jacob Meves on Unsplash