You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
- Jeremiah 29:13
For the past few months, a construction project has been blocking the lower entrance of our neighborhood. There was a drainage system that needed to be updated, so the entire road was closed and ripped up. It just finished up this week.
The lower entrance is the main entrance for most people in our neighborhood. Many who daily took that route had to find a new way to get home. I'm sure it was frustrating to some, but in reality, there were other accessible ways to get to where they were headed. When the first route was forcibly shut down, new habits developed. I'm pretty sure that a few people in our neighborhood had never even driven out our upper entrance, and were surprised to find out how pretty and accessible it was!
Road closures happen. It’s a part of life. There always seems to be a new construction project in our city, requiring some sort of detour. But this happens in our internal worlds as well. We have seasons where our ways of finding God seem to break down or dry up. Things are thrown into upheaval and our preferred routes are impassible. They limit the directions we can go to get home. And that's alright. Because God still meets us.
In the 29th chapter of Jeremiah, the prophet is speaking to a people who have been living in exile after the Babylonians have carried them away. They are longing to go home to the safety and rest of Jerusalem, and also to once again be restored to their God. But God meets them in the limbo. Yes, he promises them that he is working to bring about justice and restoration, but it will be a windy road (70 years!) to get there. But then comes a reassurance- that even during their displacement, they will find him in the new places and pathways they are walking, as they seek him. They will find God in the detours.
Sometimes we need reminded that God is in the detours. Many of us have used practices over the years that help us in our connection with Jesus. Sometimes it’s more typical ones like reading the Scriptures, sitting in prayer, or singing. Sometimes it’s something else, like experiencing nature, making art, listening to music, or having meaningful conversations.
But what happens when one of your primary ways of experiencing God closes for a season?
How do we respond when the thing that used to be a direct pathway to connection shuts down? When we try to take the route we’ve been taking, but we find that it has lost its meaning. It's a roadblock.
One way the early saints described this was to call it a “dark night of the soul.” There wasn’t always an explanation for why it happened, but the reality was that God just seemed absent. Prayers were prayed, verses were read, sermons were heard, and faithful actions were lived… yet the feeling of God being distant remained. If you’ve had moments like that in your journey with Jesus, I want to encourage you today. It's far better to explore detours than to just park at the roadblock.
The promise of God is that God is never far from us and longs to connect with us. And often it's in new avenues that we experience unexpected growth in love. Often we Christians lack the creativity to explore fresh ways of being with Jesus when some of our ways of seeking God have lost meaning.
Here are a few simple routes to dwell with Jesus if you find the need for new pathways during this season.
Jesus, meet me on the journey, even when it feels impossible to arrive at a destination.