The Better Way to Elsie

One cannot expect things to go smoothly on all counts, every day.  But when you travel, it’s not wrong to pray for this.  I mean, literally and out loud.

So we took a day trip through Grand Rapids, from our little home town of Allegan, south of there.  To wit, we’d be leaving our car for the day at the Toyota dealership over a recall item, get a rental and drive north of Lansing, to Elsie.  There, we would meet the family of a darling elderly friend who passed away suddenly last Spring.

We started a few minutes late, but not enough to upset the fruit basket. Still, we had to get gas.  And, it started raining.  I don’t think that was three strikes against us, but it made me wonder.  We were now nearly a quarter of an hour behind schedule, and not how I wanted our day to begin.  I prayed silently for a safe trip, and for us to have clear directions.  We had a Michigan map, hand written directions from the Peterson’s to their house, and both our smart phones.  It seemed like those, and our plea for mercy would make the trip foolproof.

My husband had taken charge of the dealership arrangement, and its address was straightforward,  an uncomplicated 28th Street exit off state highway 131 North.  No problem. An easy find. Can do.

As the front seat passenger, I had to privilege of reading and writing, and my head was down. The straightforward exit somehow got passed.  Alas! Had only we caught that turn,  our turmoil would have been avoided.  But in a car zooming along at sixty miles an hour, there’s no time to lament one’s demise. One must gather their wits, like it or not, and come up with a cool Plan B.

I never do quite understand why sometimes it’s as though shutters close upon us, even when you have done all you can to avoid them.  But they do.

Immediately I brought up the GPS , and we took the soonest next exit, Hall Street, it said.  But it directed us left, not right.  What?  The dealership was east, not west.  Faith flew the coop.  My mate wanted to get back on the freeway, and keep heading north, thinking 28th Street was still ahead.  We plodded our way back to the freeway, having pulled off on a one way street, facing the opposite way. Of course.

Once there, state highway 131 N thrust us immediately into downtown Grand Rapids, north of the dealership.  The GPS confused us again, because we thought it directed us to get off. This made no sense— we were squarely in the middle of the business district.  Obviously, we misinterpreted its nanno second direction to take the 96 East.  How could that be the way?  We weren’t ready to head to Lansing yet.

So we now we were lost again.  The GPS  talked us back to the freeway, but its direction to go left at the light onto the freeway was not the truth.  We were supposed to go straight, and then left.  GPS’s never differentiate when to turn left, have you noticed?  We made an illegal turn to return to the intersection, and finally made the turn correctly.

96 East then took us around the top of the city, east to the Beltline, where we could exit, and connect to 28th Street, five miles away.  A very out of the way, turmoiled route, confusing, upsetting, and hard to follow.  Not the foolproof trip I’d hoped for. And all because those ‘shutters’ blocked us from seeing that 28th street exit.

Once the trading of our vehicle was done, hope sprung eternal, and we found the 96 East easily this time, and headed toward Lansing.  However, the Michigan map got left behind in the Toyota, oh joy, and now we were down to my trusty hand written directions, and our fully charged smart phones.  Nevertheless, we thought we were safe. And this time, we took time to pray out loud together, asking for no further complications.

The first connection was made  easily to 69 East, but when Michigan 21 came up, there was a north and south distinction, as I recall. We figured that out, only to be faced head on with a split in the road, asking us if we wanted to go to St. Johns or Clare?  Boom!  Just like that.  We were supposed to know which one ?  My hand written directions were folded up.  The GPS didn’t talk soon enough, and I was asked to make a nanno second decision for which I was not qualified.  And so we digressed. Again.

I put away the written directions.  We were getting to Elsie by way of an entirely different route. The Michigan map had been left behind, there was nothing we could check.  My phone was losing its power, and we could not spare pulling up maps, with the remaining power of the second phone. I had to just sit back, and let my husband follow the GPS with Plan C.  And hope for the best.

In the end, we got there.  As fate would have it, this new route was shorter, with fewer twists.  We had an absolutely delightful visit with our new friends in Elsie.  In this particular instance, all’s well that ends well.

But we never know that, no matter the juncture.

We travel this thing called life, and proceed, as best we can.  Shutters hide things from us, at times.  Split second decisions converge.  We pray, and give ourselves up to the Lord.

We are not guaranteed we’ll find our way, the first time out.  We’re not promised we won’t get lost, or escape momentary confusion.  Praying is smart, and it is fine to hope for good results.  But the results are in His hands.  He gives us something better than good results, He goes with us.  The Lord will be with us.

I love that about Him.

“Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world.”  ~Matthew 28:20

 

~A Prayer~

Thank You, Father God, that this is true.

You go with us. You dwell with us.

Sorrows may inflict us momentarily, or reside with us, for a time.
But You are there, beside us.

Help us content ourselves with this consolation. And draw close to You.

Amen.

 

 

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