|AVE YOU NOTICED that vacations rarely go the way you planned? Here's a typical scenario: Mom and dad outline a fun and interesting trip for the family. They excitedly pack the Volkswagon and pull out of the driveway with great expectations. Then five miles down the road, a crazy driver cuts dad off in traffic, mom spills her Doctor Pepper in her lap, an albatross splatters a five gallon bucket of poop on the windshield, and somebody in the backseat spews chunks on the carpet, seat, and little sister. These are telltale signs that the trip isn't going to be what you'd anticipated.|
When I flew across the country last year, I lost my driver's license in the airport. For the safety of other passengers, it's essential that everyone have a photo ID. I didn't have one. Apparently I looked like a terrorist, so the stewardess wouldn't let me on the plane. Security people were called to the scene and they pondered what to do with me. They finally decided to allow me on, if I passed a thorough body and luggage search.
When I say "thorough," that's just what I mean. I not only had to take everything out of my suitcase (including my dirty underwear) and then try to squeeze it back in again; but I had to take off my shoes and socks and even unzip my pants and roll down the elastic of my underwear. These were not things I'd planned as part of the trip -- especially not in front of a hundred other passengers. What a humiliating predicament. Remember this story when you travel, and remember your mother's admonition to always wear clean undies when you leave the house. You never know who might see them.
Another trip that didn't go according to plans was a short, three hour outing with my brother and sister (kind of like the three hour trip of the SS Minnow on Gilligan's Island). Our car broke down and we had to spend a day and a night in a motel. This might not have been too bad if we'd had enough money to get separate rooms or if we'd brought luggage with us. We had no change of clothes or even a toothbrush (ewww)! The three of us slept in one room and one of us -- I won't mention any names -- snored loudly all night, keeping the other two awake.
My sister considered wrapping the telephone cord around my neck to strangle me as I slept, while my brother searched the dresser drawers just in case a previous occupant may have left a roll of duct tape. When they threatened to perform a tracheotomy on me, I decided to stay awake and sit up in the chair the rest of the night. That wasn't how any of us had expected the trip to go.
Mishaps, break downs, accidents, illnesses, injuries, unexpected side trips. That's a picture of our journey through life. Trouble is around every corner. Believers know there's a great destination for us at the end of the road, but the trip can be horrendous.
When I became a Christian, I thought I had it made and the trip would be an easy one. Life was good and it would only get better. I had not heard of life mapping at that time; but if I had mapped out my life back then, the map would have been a straight line shooting right up to heaven with no bumps and curves.
Boy, was I misinformed! It took me about forty eight hours to discover that my expectations were unrealistic and it wasn't going to be such easy sailing after all.
Nobody's life is a bowl of apricots. In fact, it can often be more like the pits, even for Christians. Life doesn't go smoothly because you're saved. You still have to maneuver the potholes.
The Bible says the truth will set you free. When you accept the truth that life ain't fair, things get somewhat easier because you're not stunned by the detours.
The road of life is sometimes an arduous crawl uphill and sometimes you're speeding downhill, awaiting the crash. Think of the wilderness wanderings of the Israelite people. They were all over the place during their 40 years in the dessert. When they complained, Moses told them, "Do not fear, stand by and see the salvation of the Lord which He will accomplish for you. The Lord will fight for you while you keep silent."
I have a hard time with that last part about keeping silent. I'm not the silent type. I'm more like the nagging, cranky, loudmouth, bossy type. (But after all, I AM the smartest woman I know and others need to benefit from my wisdom, don't they?)
I'm a master complainer. I don't need to look very hard to find something to whine about. When the Israelites complained, it was about things like not enough water and not enough food. I may not complain about those same things, but my whining springs from the same sort of attitude. I forget that God is not only great and powerful and loving and merciful, but that's He's WITH me. My memory is nonexistent, but my forgetter works great, so I need to be reminded quite often that I'm not alone on this journey.
I'm glad God is my ever present navigator, because I couldn't handle this trip over life's bumpy roads on my own.
Marsha Jordan is a disabled grandmother, author, and shower singer who began her writing career on the bathroom walls of St. Joseph's Catholic Elementary School. Now her writing appears in restrooms throughout the country. Jordan has two boys, ages 30 and 55. She's been married to the 55 year old for 31 years.
She's been held captive for a quarter of a century In the north woods of Wisconsin where she shares an empty nest with her rocket scientist husband and their badly behaved toy poodle, King Louie who rules the household with an iron paw.
After her grandson was badly burned, Jordan created The HUGS and HOPE Foundation, a nonprofit charity devoted to cheering critically ill and injured children.
Jordan's inspirational and humorous essays are available in her new book, "Hugs, Hope, and Peanut Butter." The book is illustrated with drawings by kids who are battling for life.
More columns by Marsha Jordan