It was a beautiful morning with a gorgeous blue sky and clean air. We were attempting to leave an area where we had been on vacation for the past few days. I say "attempting" because as it turned out we really could have used a better escape route.
We had just spent a wonderful week at Lake Chelan; but it was time to go home. We did not get an early start because at our time of life it takes more than fifteen minutes to rev up the old engines - both the vehicle's and our own.
Nonetheless, the condo was empty and so was the wastebasket; the dishwasher was running with our final few utensils. Coffee pot filter and grounds gone? Check. Closets empty? Check. Thermostat turned off? Check.
Marsha's knees bending, feet moving? Check. David's hat on his head, keys in his pocket - and not the other way around? Check.
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The nearest town of any size was Wenatchee, with a smaller community beside it, called East Wenatchee. This was where things got tricky. The two were interlinked by a byzantine maze of turns and bridges over the Wenatchee River. They call it the Wenatchee confluence. That should have warned us.
Major traffic arteries to all points of the compass converged on Wenatchee, from which one could make a departure to any of those points. Theoretically.
Not only had we been here recently, but we also were in possession of that miracle of modern travel, our very own little GPS device. I will not name the brand, lest I be sued, or worse yet, lest I lapse into the kind of language that is not helpful.
We pulled through the Golden Arches, and now fortified with egg McMuffins, hash browns, and coffee - it was all systems go. Except that we couldn't.
It was not for lacking of trying: trust me. We drove carefully through a roundabout, cautiously up the on ramp, eased gently into the mid-morning traffic and confidently (at first) surveyed our choices. Okay, there it is. Take that next split up ahead.
The GPS steadfastly assured us that we were headed where we needed to go - Portland and then due South. We took each articulately announced merge, exit and turn. Then we heard "Arriving at your destination." Huh?
David and I looked at each other, mildly miffed, as we surveyed the dead-end parking lot in which we were sitting. It was an industrial area with no open businesses in sight. Just us, our half-chewed hash browns and empty asphalt.
"How did this happen?" he said to me. His tone was not exactly accusatory, but given that my job was that of co-pilot, surely I had programmed something amiss into the GPS or misread some freeway sign. Stoutly I averred that I had done it correctly.
"Well, let me look at it and we will double back. " He did and we did. But it wasn't easy. Overpasses, underpasses, bridges, sharp left turns.
About a half an hour later, having more keenly followed the directions, assessing each merge, turn and exit as we executed it, we began to recognize a few landmarks. No. How could this be?
Another few turns - all heralded with great assurance by the nitwit who lives in that wretched little box - we had arrived. Again. At the same stupid empty parking lot. Literally a dead end.
David had nearly bitten a finger munching a stray piece of hash brown as we drove briskly into that barren destination, and I had choked on my coffee as we stopped abruptly. The driver's irritation was more than a little evident by now.
While he nurse his nipped digit, and I coughed and sputtered on my now lukewarm coffee, we discussed our options. How hard could this be? Wenatchee boasted a population of less than forty thousand, and East Wenatchee was even smaller. One should be able to simply eyeball one's way out, if need be. One could not. Or at least we two "ones" could not. Yeesh.
We decided to give it one more try, and then ... what ... get a motel room ... rent a house ... take out a mortgage? Who knew?
Then we looked at each other and began to laugh. This was ridiculous. We picked up steam and laughed and laughed until our sides hurt. Anyone passing by, not that anyone was likely to given our remote location, would have suspected we were drinking more than plain old caffeine.
Finally, we looked at each other, and I said, "Look, there is the sun. It comes up in the East, right? We want to go West, right? Let's disregard the freeway signs, turn this blasted GPS off, and just follow the road, using the sun as a guide."
"But the GPS says...".
"I know what it said. Repeatedly. And I don't know who programmed the maps, but in this case they are wrong."
Now he is what euphemistically might be called a concrete thinker. As in set in cement, once his mind is made up. And he generally takes much comfort in solid information. An international conglomerate cannot be wrong, right?
But they were wrong. In this case dead wrong. Period. The former French hero, Charles De Gaulle, once famously stated, "Forty million Frenchmen can't be wrong." In other words, the overwhelming numbers must make the direction right. Wrong.
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Proverbs 14:12 says, "There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death." (NIV)
The Message version says there is a "way that seems harmless enough" ... uh huh, until you have tried, and failed, several times to make it work in your life and you keep ending up in the same old place. Barren - empty - a dead end.
We finally made it out of Wenatchee (and by the skin of our teeth East Wenatchee too) by ignoring every sign and the dratted GPS, and simply keeping our eyes on the sun.
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I can tell you, with absolute assurance, that the only way I have ever made it out of the barren, empty, dead-end places in my life was by keeping my eyes glued to the Son.
He knows where we are going, even when I cannot see anything ahead but fog and more fog. He knows the way, when I have lost my way. He knows the destination, because He has been there, is there, and is preparing a place there for me ... and you.
The world will present us with many "signs" for direction: success, money, good reputation, popularity, etc. And we may carefully follow a well-known formula for arriving at wherever it is we think we wish to end up.
But if you find yourself sitting in an empty space, wondering how you got there, I would recommend you look to the Son. He knows where you are - now, today, even in your present circumstances.
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Hope you know where you are going today. I am grateful to be moving in a good direction. Until next time - Marsha