Detours in life


For any media to invite a conversation about “Hey, God? Yes, Charles.” is a big deal to me. I don’t take it for granted and I do my best to tell our story as honestly and directly as I can. If I’m invited to their studio for our interview, I also do my best to arrive on time or early. So my routine, once I’m in the city, is to find my hotel first, but then use my car’s navigation system to GPS my destination from the parking lot and make a dry run before I ever check into my room. I want to be sure I know the route, from my actual starting place, and how long it will take so that I don’t get lost or arrive late.

I did this recently in a completely unfamiliar part of Atlanta. The test drive was terrible actually. The nice talking lady in my car kept telling me to go right, stay left, or maybe the opposite. It seemed like around every turn was a split second direction change as I passed stacks of interstates on one side and faced veering splits of roads on the other. All her explicit directives did not help me understand that once I finally exited the interstate ramp up to the right, I should make neither a right nor a left turn at the top. What I was supposed to do was go straight, but since that appeared to put us right back on I85 and because I couldn’t see the parallel access road tucked across there, I missed it completely and turned left. After a stern word from the car lady, I found a place for a u-turn. Finally, I arrived at the correct address and, exhausted, turned right back into all that Atlanta traffic, to navigate my way back to the hotel. But at least I knew the time should be about 30 hard minutes and, more importantly, my path was all laid out.

Our interview was for the next afternoon and I left over an hour early to be on the safe side. Just as I breezed into the left turning lane to get on the expressway below, I looked down. To my horror, the traffic was nothing but bumpers, backed up behind the exit even, and this was 1:30 in the afternoon, almost exactly the same time I had practiced this the day before. I made a jump to the right lane and, as soon as I could, pulled into a parking lot while the panic set in. My car GPS system is fairly new to me and I haven’t read the book yet, dang it, and so I don’t have a clue how to get it to tell me an alternate route. I grabbed my phone, found a map app, and punched in the address, watching the clock. A scene of streets popped up. It showed a very different route, starting in an easterly direction instead of north, and I studied it for a minute. Finally, I decided to trust this second plan and pulled back out into the traffic, hesitating only briefly before turning away from the interstate. My wheels hit pavement previously untried as I made the called for turns. Pretty soon I began to see landmarks familiar from yesterday. I breathed a sigh of relief when I pulled into the parking lot – 35 minutes early.

Sometimes the original plan, no matter how hard you try, doesn’t work out. Sometimes you just have to put your faith and your feet on an alternate road.


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