When one of our authors submitted this essay, we couldn’t help but think that the word “detour” is an excellent description of COVID-19. For some, it has meant a delayed wedding date, time away from family, a decision to move or a complete change of educational choices. No matter how the pandemic has detoured or derailed your plans, we think these thoughts from Joan Crombie will encourage you…
One beastly hot July day back in the early 1970s, I remember our family of five taking a day trip from our farm in northern South Dakota to the state capital at Pierre, a 150-some mile jaunt. I do not recall the make or model of our car—only that it had no air conditioning, and that it was cherry red inside and out—a fitting color for how searing hot the vinyl seats felt on my bare ten-year-old legs in shorts.
A good portion into our trip we began to see those dreaded signs indicating road construction ahead. Before we reached any actual construction, however, we came to a large, striped sign set in the middle of the road: “Road Closed Ahead. Use Detour.” A big arrow pointed left. As we paused, my mother pulled the accordioned state map out of the glove compartment, and my dad studied it, determining that the detour would take us at least forty miles out of our way on an already long trip. He eyed the perfectly fine paved highway ahead of us. Who knows exactly what he was thinking, but there were few roadway options out in the middle of rural South Dakota, and apparently that perfectly fine paved road seemed like a worthwhile risk to take. We went around the sign.
You can probably guess what happened. We were confidently cruising along with the windows open on that picturesque, paved road for a good twenty miles before the road turned to gravel. We slowed, cranking the windows up to an inch, enduring the hot, dusty drive for another eight to ten bumpy miles—until the gravel turned into the mushy, loose stuff spread across what we realized was a newly constructed road not yet packed. But oh, we’d come so far! Surely, we’d be driving out of it soon, right? We crawled along through the mush gravel until we came to—minor key—the literal end of the road. Ahead of us was a river over which a bridge had not yet been built. The worst part was having to backtrack all that way to the original detour!
Sometimes life is like that. We’re cruising happily along, when suddenly our plans are rudely interrupted. We’re forced to make hard changes. Most of the time God’s detours are inconvenient and/or frustrating. Other times, they can be tragic and heart-wrenchingly painful, life-altering and hard to understand. Either way, God promises to be with us, and he promises that “all things work together for good to those who love him and are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28) If we yield to him, God uses our trials to build our faith and to form our character to be more like him. Plus, we often forget that those roadblocks and detours protect us from dangers or hardships we may be unaware of.
In Joan’s soon-to-be-released book Loving Leah, Leah Labanora struggles to come to grips with a harsh change of plans in her life. Unable to fathom why God would allow such a humiliating situation to happen to her, Leah turns from God and becomes bitter toward those who have hurt her. But God brings her on a wide detour—straight back to him! As she embraces the hard work of forgiveness, Leah learns that her disappointment was God’s hand of protection over her life.
Loving Leah is a mystery and a love story. But more so, it’s a powerful story of healing and reconciliation! Look for it on our site in early August!
The daughter of a cattle rancher, Joan Crombie grew up in a small town on the prairies of South Dakota. In 1985 she graduated from St. Olaf College with a B.A. in English Education. She and her husband Steven Crombie have been married for thirty-five adventurous years and have raised five children—one daughter and four sons. Currently, they reside in beautiful southern Minnesota where they pastor a church. Joan is also the author of Keeping Kyla, the first book in the Healing New Hampton series.