I have when driving or walking through an unfamiliar space. I've ended up in a place different from what I expected. I thought I knew the way to go but ended up in a completely different spot. The path or hallway or street didn't go where I thought it would.
Two years ago I began a new career in classroom teaching. I knew how the path would go. I walked into a classroom and began to teach young kids. It was hard, harder in some ways than I expected. That year I kept thinking, "This is different than I expected." But I knew that things would settle and become more like I thought.
One year ago, the year began smoothly and I was happy at how things were developing. Then I was unexpectedly moved to a new school and a new grade level. And it was rough. For many different reasons, much rougher than I really thought it would be.
I thought, "It wasn't supposed to be like this. I'm working as hard as I know, doing the best I know. And it doesn't seem enough. I made this change, giving up salary and security. It should be better than this." (Yes, my pride seems to keep showing up in the middle of this journey.)
But I kept working, knowing that things would be different as time progressed.
Now it's now. School started here last week. All the kids and teachers began their new year. Without me in a classroom. This isn't the way it should have happened. This is not the direction I planned or expected. I had a moment last week when I was really, really sad. My dream wasn't going to happen. It is over.
Or is it?
Yes, we're heading through this in a way different from what I expected. But that doesn't mean I made a mistake or my dream has evaporated.
I think about Joseph...the Old Testament Joseph. (Read his story in Genesis 37–50).
Joseph also had a dream. He dreamt that the sun, moon, and stars would bow to him. He was the favored son of his father, the heir apparent. But he ended up as a slave in Egypt, sold by his own brothers. Then he was thrown in jail, for trumped-up offenses. He helped men who were troubled, and through that, he sought a way out of jail with a man who had the pharaoh's confidence. It didn't happen.
I wonder if Joseph ever thought, "How did I get here? This wasn't the way it should have been."
Then...after years...he was remembered, he assisted a troubled pharaoh, and he was elevated to leader of the kingdom. Many bowed to him. Even his own brothers. He had opportunity to avenge himself for the brothers' actions. But what did Joseph say?
"You planned evil against me; God planned it for good to bring about the present result--the survival of many people." (Genesis 50:20)
We are certainly not facing the hardships and evil that Joseph did. We are facing some challenges but those are challenges to our expectations. My carefully designed route is gone. We are in a new place, a route that I certainly didn't expect. But God is planning and leading for our good - to bring about His result. In the past any "detour" we encountered led to greater, better places. Will this be any different? I don't think so.
I don't want to ask, "Why this way?" I should ask, "What unexpected lessons are waiting on this way?"
That sounds so easy, so mature, so holy. I'm not there. But I want to be.