Adventure … August 7, 2012

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I go where I’m wanted and it ends up being what they needed. After arriving, I seek out reasons to want to be there and when all is said and done, my needs are met.

Adventure. An adventure is when life, circumstances and people have thoroughly demolished my plans and what is left to me is the true essence of my faith. No one ever signs up for such a calamity. It’s why God, in His great wisdom, surprises us with them–because we would never be willing to go into training for the mission.

Nine days ago, I finished up doing a program in Knoxville, Tennessee. I was prepared to fall into my normal pattern of calling ahead and scheduling lodging for a week in the location where I would next be sharing. I discovered that all the motel possibilities in Akron, Ohio, were closed off to me because of a golf

Official seal of City of Akron

Official seal of City of Akron (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

tournament and the Hall of Fame football game. So even though I was heading to Akron, I couldn’t go to Akron. That could be enough right there to send you into a tizzy for a while. But experience has taught me to hold off on my festering fussiness long enough to see if there might be an alternative to the chaos.So I decided to stop off in Lexington, Kentucky, for a couple of days, to do some of my business and inch my way up to Akron, Ohio, hoping that by Saturday, a motel might become available. At first the process was filled with inspiration. The first blessing of the adventure, (which, as I pointed out to you, is an interruption of our brilliance in planning) was that I didn’t have to drive as far to get to Lexington as I would have to arrive in Akron. That’s nice. When I was much younger, I used to brag about how far I drove to get from one place to another. Now, as I get older, I like to brag about how little I’ve moved.Lexington was fun. We found some great lodging, got some swims in, did our work, and then headed off for another stop on our way to Akron, Ohio, in Columbus. I was all ready to go north of Columbus to be in striking distance of Akron, when I-71 clogged up with traffic because of the Ohio State Fair, and rather than sitting in my hot van and stubbornly pursuing a now-defunct plan, I turned around at the next exit and drove back five miles, to Grove City, and sought out lodging.

Janet had located a coupon for a motel at that particular exit, and due to the kindness of an innkeeper, we were allowed to have the same coupon rate for two nights–a real surprise.

Here’s a clue: it is impossible to enjoy surprises if you’re not willing to be surprised. If everything in your life must be planned out, approved by your sense of normalcy and radiating with the effects of previous experiences, you probably will end up in repetition and bored with your own existence.

I am not a great advocate for surprises, but I have been surprised enough that I am no longer afraid of them. We spent a couple of days at this motel, which was perfectly situated, and accessible to all sorts of businesses and opportunities.

When we were ready to leave on Saturday, it occurred to us that Ohio State Fair traffic was still going to be just as severe, so we selected to circle around the town on the west end–on the outer loop. The outer loop on the east side of town was much longer, so we felt very intelligent in choosing the westward, shorter path. Another cool thing about the adventure was that our motel was only two miles from this outer loop. But as we drove towards the outer loop, there was a flashing sign telling us that the west bound section was closed–curses, foiled again–so we ended up going on the east bound circle, which was longer and might have caused us to become grumpy if it were not for the fact that I just refused to lose my cool over nine extra miles.

It’s not because I’m special or hyper-spiritual. It’s just that sometimes the only way God can bless us is by eliminating our stupid choices, of which we have grown to be  fond.

We zoomed right around that east side loop and headed off to Akron, Ohio, with no idea on where we were going to stay. Worse, when we got on the outskirts of Akron, we did not actually eyeball any lodging whatsoever. All the calls we had made to Akron in the previous week had informed us that the accommodations were all full. Finally, someone directed us to Kent, Ohio, home of Kent State University. There we found a motel where they charged us twice their normal rate because of the special events in town, but we bit our lip, paid the price, settled in, and prepared for our weekend.

While I was sitting in the van waiting for Jan to check in, I got to thinking about Kent State. I was a senior in high school on May 4th in 1970, when four students were gunned down by the National Guard during an anti-war protest. What crossed my mind was whether four students being killed at a university would even make the news today. I suppose it would be included in the cycle, but back in 1970, it was a national tragedy on the caliber of 9/11. Amazingly, when I got into my room and turned on my television, the first thing that came on the screen was a report that after forty-two years, the case on the Kent State shooting of the four students had finally been closed. It was chilling and weird that I had been thinking about it while sitting in the same town, and was watching the report in real-time.

Coincidence? No–it’s an adventure. And to experience an adventure, you have to be willing to have your plans demolished and live on your faith.

The next day was a fabulous one at the church–great people. We had decided to drive on towards our next destination in Lansing, Michigan and cover some miles before settling in for Sunday night. To do so we had to traverse on some back roads in northern Ohio.

After about forty minutes on the road, we realized we were both hungry. I asked Jan what she wanted to eat and she said, “Some Chinese food would be nice.” Well, finding Chinese food in northern rural Ohio on a Sunday afternoon would be similar to finding a red barn, a field of corn and an American-flag mailbox in Peking.

But we pulled off on a side road and there was a little town a mile away, so we decided to go into the village and find out if there were any egg rolls available. It was a wide space in the road. It had a town square filled with fresh fruits and vegetables being sold by local farmers, but stuck in the corner on a side street was a little restaurant called The Great Wall.

Chinese.

We rolled up in front of it and there were two lovely people from the mainland, sitting there, just waiting for us to place our order. The food was delicious, the day was beautiful, the back roads were filled with story lines and gorgeous scenery, and we arrived exhausted, in Fremont, Ohio, to settle in for the night. The motel we selected was located behind a Denny’s restaurant so we didn’t even have to get in our van to acquire dinner.

It was an adventure–seven-and-a-half days of the unknown, where our faith was exercised and our hearts grew.

It was not where we wanted to be, but we found a way to enjoy it and in the process, our needs were met.

 

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