On Sunday I suggested to my parents that we go to the beach. My father would always just as soon stay home to watch a ballgame, so I was glad when they consented.
Let us say "mistakes were made." The first was that we just left too late. My dad has cleanup duty at church, so we didn't set out until 2:30, not an optimal time to start an hour and a half drive to the shore, but after a brief consideration we decided to go for it anyway.
Then when we were 20 minutes into the trip, we realized we had forgotten my mother's wheelchair, which would come in handy for the boardwalk and allow us to cover more territory than by walking. So after a moment's debate we turned around to fetch it. Another half hour lost.
Then there was an inexplicable traffic jam on the turnpike, so rather than losing more precious time in it (or so I reasoned) by holding out for exit 7A which my MapQuest directions dictated, I made a unilateral decision to bail out at exit 7 and head for a different shore point.
I knew full well that the redirection would take us to a beach with no boardwalk, so when I was but eight miles from Long Beach Island, I veered my car onto the Garden State Parkway South, expecting to find exits to other familiar ports of call, like Ocean City (which has a boardwalk). Somehow this did not materialize, and in my growing panic I made another few digressions and got completely turned around.
A kindly New Jersey pizza parlor operator informed me that the nearest beach was Atlantic City (which is a dump, courtesy of the casinos), and beyond that, Ocean City-which would be another half hour.
The natives (in my car) were getting restless, so we took a vote to cut our losses and head back toward Philadelphia.
This is where it could have gone either way. Every family has a culture known only to that family. Members of families are the only ones who know where the tripwires are, and the location of every sand trap. The familiar course at this juncture in my own household would have been the commencement of a lot of heavy sighing and finger pointing (mild at first and then reaching a crescendo).
I decided to start talking about how good God had been to keep us from accidents and to give us lots of time to talk. I dropped the suggestion that all the trials we encounter are actually for the purpose of testing the genuineness of our faith (1 Peter 1:6-7). I mentioned an interesting Proverb I had come across:
"Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city" (Proverbs 16:32).
I would like to report that the power of the Word of God injected into a dicey situation-plus a timely stop at Bertucci's for pizza-averted disaster and made the outing a triumph rather than defeat. Better a test passed with flying colors than a day at the beach with no spiritual gain.