Lisa Allgood, Executive Presbyter
“This detour doesn’t come from the One who called you into the race in the first place.” – Galatians 5:8 (Message)
This piece of sidewalk is just in front of the Presbytery office. On occasion I walk to WyCoCo (coffee and my favorite alternate meeting spot) and so, walking back one morning, saw this for the first time and had to stop and ponder.
First, that it took me so long to notice it.
Second, there is no apparent reason as to why the sidewalk in this particular spot deviates. There’s no evidence that a tree was ever here, and, for the rest of Wyoming Avenue, the sidewalk is straight where any trees are planted. It must be harder to make a curve in concrete than continuing an otherwise straight line. So why is it there…?
There’s a part of me that really hopes it was a bored concrete-layer-person one day who decided to existentially test the world, and anyone who walks this stretch, to see if anyone ever notices.
I have many friends who all of a sudden are going through deviations. Unexpected, unwanted divorce. Betrayal. Loss of a dear parent or friend. Hard decisions about loyalty. About family. About work. About life. Even about church. And I know many of them don’t think anyone notices, either.
Detours are hard, and they can be times in life where – because of the hardness – everything suddenly comes into question, even those things we thought were rock-solid in our lives – even those things that actually are still rock-solid. Like friends who notice. Like family who supports. Like a faithful God who loves us unconditionally. Even when we deviate. Even in the detours.
Paul goes on a bit of a rant after the verse above, but he goes on to say this (verses 13-18, Message):
It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don’t use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that’s how freedom grows. For everything we know about God’s Word is summed up in a single sentence: Love others as you love yourself. That’s an act of true freedom. If you bite and ravage each other, watch out – in no time at all you will be annihilating each other, and where will your precious freedom be then? My counsel is this: Live freely, animated and motivated by God’s Spirit. Then you won’t feed the compulsions of selfishness. For there is a root of sinful self-interest in us that is at odds with a free spirit, just as the free spirit is incompatible with selfishness. These two ways of life are antithetical, so that you cannot live at times one way and at times another way according to how you feel on any given day. Why don’t you choose to be led by the Spirit and so escape the erratic compulsions of a law-dominated existence?
I smiled at the thought of this sidewalk all day long, merrily taking its own free path. I can actually hear it whistling a bit. Because it’s clearly not bound by the law of straightness, but confidently, cheerfully, fulfills with love its calling to guide people safely on their journey.
Maybe we should do the same.