I regularly make the drive between Roanoke and Christiansburg, and I never get tired of it. Spring in the Roanoke and New River Valleys is beautiful.
I haven’t had to deal with it too much myself, but I do hear horror stories about traffic on I-81. I do understand it stops being such a nice experience if you get stuck there. The beautiful things don’t look as beautiful. The blue ridges aren’t wonders so much as barriers. And there aren’t a lot places to get off the road.
The logo for Blue Ridge Christian Counseling is a graphic of a road through mountains, and it captures some of the experience I’m describing. What exists broadly under the umbrellas of personal problems or mental health issues is not usually something we’d call beautiful. It’s more often the hard part of travel through this world – heavy depression, crippling anxiety, marital discord.
By the grace of God, sometimes when you see all the cars up ahead of you stopped, there is an exit, and you can take a detour. “Detour” in itself is not a word with positive connotations. It implies something out of the way, unplanned, and inefficient. It’s not the way you intended to go, nor does it keep the timeline you’d wanted. But it is a way out.
Part of our goal in providing counseling is to help people to find these ways out, or as the apostle Paul says, a way of escape so that you can endure (1 Cor 10:13) during a trying time. There are still things to endure on the detour, but again, it is an escape.
Though it rarely feels good to have to find a way out or a way to endure a hard situation, the hope is that there would be surprising beauty, a detour through hills and farm country. The destination remains the goal, but in the kindness of God, He provides along the way. I’ve heard many people say things to this effect.
They are never grateful for the hardship and delays in themselves. But you hear things like, “I would never want cancer again, and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. But the things I learned and experienced from God are things I wouldn’t trade for the world.” I’ve heard the same things about persistent, addictive sin struggles. “I can’t say I thank God for my sin, but my weakness has driven me to Him in ways I can’t imagine happening otherwise.”
What they were getting at is what God’s people have seen for centuries. It’s not that He makes all of life a Sunday drive. But He gives manna to people in wilderness, and answers our prayer, give us this day our daily bread, and He provides more than we could ask or think.