This summer I took a vacation so full of mishaps; they won’t all fit in this letter.
First, I started a road trip to my hometown of Russellville, Arkansas with a spare tire that had no rim (long story). Naturally, I got a flat about halfway there.
A man named Billy Bell removed the flat, wrenched it off its rim, pulled my naked spare tire onto the rim and put the complete tire on my car. I know God sent Mr. Bell to me, and I wish I’d taken a picture of him. If you ever have tire trouble near Lake Village, Arkansas, ask around for Billy Bell Tire Service.
A few days later my mentor, Teddie Faye Raines, and I got stuck in a gravel driveway between Booger Hollow and Sand Gap, Arkansas, with hail pelting the car and an irritated driver behind us.
That wasn’t my fault. But the Cabin Fiasco was.
It’s important to know, once you get about halfway to Raines’ cabin from Russellville, you lose cell service and don’t get it back. Not to mention no WiFi, and only sporadic towns and businesses. The cabin itself has WiFi and a landline, but no cell service.
Raines had dropped me at the cabin and gone back to Russellville. Now I was waiting on my friends Michelle and Brittney to arrive.
I’d sent Brittney directions. The last part said, “You’ll go 0.6 miles down the dirt road, and then you’ll see a sign that says ‘Raines.’ It’s the third driveway on the left.”
I meant the sign itself was at the third driveway on the left – Raines’ driveway. But the girls interpreted it as, you turn at the sign and then look for the third driveway on the left. So that’s what they did. Of course they didn’t find any additional driveways – but after about a quarter-mile of downhill gravel, they arrived at Raines’ cabin.
I must’ve been in the bathroom. I didn’t hear the vehicle pull up.
They saw a trampoline in the yard and thought, “That’s not the Raineses.” (But the Raineses have grandkids.)
The girls sat there in Brittney’s SUV and wondered if they should get out and knock on the door. Decided not to. Turned around.
When they got almost back up to the road, they hit a muddy spot and got stuck. They couldn’t move forward and didn’t want to reverse back to a cabin that they didn’t know was their destination. They had no cell service, no Wi-Fi. They might’ve heard banjos.
They wandered up the road to another cabin where the door was ajar and nobody was home (seriously). They used the landline at that cabin to call my cell. But with no cell service, I didn’t get the call.
(I had used the cabin Wi-Fi to send Brittney an iMessage giving her the landline number to the Raineses’ cabin. But I had sent it too late, after she and Michelle were in the sticks. So they didn’t have the only number that could’ve helped them.)
They walked back to the car. Finally, a neighbor passed by and told them they were likely in the right driveway. So they drove back down – in reverse most of the way. They’d been “lost” for nearly an hour.
Sometimes when things go wrong, it’s not to grow your endurance. It’s God warning you to pay attention and make smarter decisions – like sending your friends clearer directions, or keeping up with your car maintenance. My vacation turned out to be wonderful, but I’m glad I made it home in one piece – the same day my friends arrived, I hurt both myself and a tree with an ATV.
Maybe you’re glad to be home too. Back to structure, work, school. But familiar routines also bring challenges.
I’d urge you to read this month’s “Let’s Talk it Over” column, about why your fitness regimen might be harder than it has to be. Or our “Living My Call” story, about Dr. Kristen and Nick Crawford’s dedication to the gospel in the everyday.
Also, don’t miss our cover story on Art Jones, a tennis jock who hit rock bottom and rose up by surrendering to God. At the end of the day, that’s what we all need to do. I’m praying that each edition of this magazine would point someone to that surrender – the kind that comes when we lay down our self-reliance, trust in the Savior who died for our sins, and follow Him.