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Just a Thought or Two: Taking Turns and the Beauty of (Some) Detours


If you live in Bloomington or points south, you know the headaches presented by the construction on highway 37. You may try to avoid highway 37, heading east to Nashville and then going north on highway 135, winding through Bean Blossom, Morgantown, and Trafalgar. Or, you may head east to Columbus, and then go north on I-65 to get to Indianapolis. The alternatives seldom work: you end up behind a slow-moving truck on a two-lane or getting into construction traffic jams.

Sometimes, I feel like those of us who live in Bloomington live on an island. Highway 37 is a causeway that connects us to the mainland (the rest of Indiana). And the causeway is frequently nearly impassable.

If you make the daily commute to Indianapolis on highway 37, you have probably experienced traffic delays that lasted so long you could have written a lengthy Russian novel. My forays north are less frequent, but two weeks ago on a beautiful Sunday evening, I found myself sitting in stopped traffic.

Here are some observations.

Delays are a part of life

Delays are a part of life.

Before I leave Bloomington, I often use Google Maps: I like to see if there are traffic hold-ups, I enjoy seeing the ETA and then I do my best to “beat” what Google thinks is my Estimated Time of Arrival. Still, even with Google Maps, there are delays.

The schedule collapses.

Two weeks ago we were headed to the north side of Martinsville to meet our kids and pick up Ella and Olivia and the traffic came to a stop.

So, how do we use the delays? I fumed as we inched along. Fuming wasn’t helpful.

The people of Israel spend forty years in the wilderness of Sinai. Paul wants to go one direction, every door closes in his face, and as he waits he has a dream about a Greek saying “Come help us!”

What will you do with the delays you experience in life?

Someone I know said they used their time waiting in line at the grocery store to pray for the people ahead and behind them.

If God made life, and Genesis says it is good, and delays are a part of life, then maybe we should play with the possibility that the delays can be good—Just a thought.

Take turns

We need to take turns. When we get to the sign that says LANE ENDS – MERGE RIGHT, we need to take turns.

One of the great moral decisions we will ever make—I’m serious, here—is whether we will constantly push our way forward, refusing to let the person beside us merge into the right-hand lane. The world—on campus at IU, in the church, on Wall Street, or in Washington D.C. needs more and more people who look beyond their own self-interest or the interests of their tribe, political party or economic group. Too many of us have lost the art of looking beyond our own needs. Too many of us have forgotten how to share…how to take turns.

We’re in this together. Philippians 2 says we are servants to one another.

The world works best when we look out for one another. In fact, one of the reasons the traffic comes to a grinding halt may have less to do with concrete trucks and more to do with pushy drivers refusing to give the people an inch.

We’re in this together. Didn’t we see this as neighbor helped neighbor during Hurricane Harvey in Houston?

Let them in, won’t you? (Especially if they are driving a silver 1999 Miata with IU plates.)

Detours can be beautiful

Detours can be beautiful. Yes, I know, they can also be time-consuming and frustrating.

But, now and then, I am sent down a road that graces me with unexpected beauty.

Coming south from Southport, a week ago, Google Maps suddenly told me to take a left turn off highway 135. The road ahead to Nashville looked clear, the suggestion my phone was making made no sense, but I turned left.

What I expected to be a two or three-mile detour became a 15-mile journey that took me into Bean Blossom from the east! It was a road I had never driven before, but the beauty of it took my breath away. The road rose and fell, turned left and right, and took me past fields of yellowing soybeans, log cabins, red barns and creeks that surely shaped the valleys. I braked, accelerated, down-shifted and shifted back up a gear, and savored every mile of my new friend.

Some of the great moments of life can be the detours. This is a good thing, of course, because life seldom goes in a straight line or as we had planned.

I can’t wait to get back to that winding, two-lane blacktop road.

Robert Frost, I assume, never drove that road in a 1999 Miata, but if he had it might have been the inspiration for his poem “The Road Not Taken.”

Detours can be beautiful.

If you have been stopped for more than twenty minutes on highway 37 as you read this, you may want to toss your phone out the window. I understand if you feel like sending your pastor a note telling him some things are lousy and can’t be sugarcoated…that his weekly email Just a Thought is silly.

I get it. But what we do with the delays and the detours matters.

See you in worship this Sunday as we continue THE STORY! Remember that our worship schedule is The Morning Connection at 8:45 and Classic Worship at 10 (both in the sanctuary). The Open Door, our contemporary/informal worship gathering, is at 11:15 in the Buskirk-Chumley Theater.

Our college outreach ministry, Jubilee, happens on Wednesday nights at 7:30 pm at the Bloomington Sandwich Company on Kirkwood (we’ll buy your meal!).



First Methodist