A person’s steps are established by the Lord, and He takes pleasure in his way.” Psalm 37:23
We were so close and yet so far away. It was 1977 and we had recently arrived at our new USAF assignment in Germany. We had purchased a 1967 Volkswagen station wagon which turned out to have virtually no floorboards just floor mats. We found that out the first time it rains. It rains a lot in Germany. Anyway we named him Herman. He wasn’t fast, he wasn’t pretty. But he would go…most of the time.
Our friends that lived a couple of hours away invited to come over and spend the weekend with them. We lived in Sambach which wasn’t too far from Sembach where I worked. You can probably already tell that things can get confusing in Germany. So, we had been in country for about 10 days, we had our international drivers license which meant I paid someone $15 dollars, and we had Herman. Not to sound like Gilligan’s Island but we started out on “a three hour trip…a three hour trip”.
We were heading to a small city called Zweibrucken where our friends lived. The Air Force had a small airbase there where he worked and since Zweibrucken means “two bridges” I assume they had those also. It was simple. Get on this highway with your car named Herman and with no floorboards, drive about an hour or so, take a left and head toward Zweibrucken. Not a deal. Right? Well, not so fast.
Soon Judy and I were traveling along, excited for a new adventure. We had no traveling experience in Germany, it was raining, remember it does that a lot in Germany, so we had miniature swimming pools for floorboards and the antique wipers were just keeping up with the rain. After about an hour we came to a large directional sign. It said Saarbrucken straight ahead. Well, Mr. “I’m a man who doesn’t get lost” looked at his sweet, dear “Don’t look at me, I’ve never been out the country before either” wife and said, “Uh was that Saarbrucken we were looking for?” You know, if you’ve seen one “brucken” you’ve seen them all.
Well, I couldn’t remember, she couldn’t remember so we kept driving and it kept raining. We drove for quite a while and suddenly found ourselves in Saarbrucken which happens to be on the French border. We also found ourselves on the verge of having to learn French. Since we hadn’t mastered any German either we decided we had best turn around before we started an international incident.
I did a quick turn around and headed back the way we came. We were disoriented, discouraged, and disappointed. We drove back about 30 miles or so and there we saw a sign: Zweibrucken. I remembered, she remembered—sweet Zweibrucken. Hallelujah. We exited off the autobahn (which is German for “you can drive fast if you don’t drive a Herman”) and as we exit we see our friend just pulling away. He had come to look for us and was just about to give up. We saw him, he saw us. We laughed, we embraced. We had made it. “Guten Tag.” Guten Tag, indeed!
We still laugh about that crazy story. Two young people who didn’t know better driving in a foreign country, taking off in a too old Volkswagen station wagon with swimming pools for floor boards, getting lost and unable to ask directions. Yup, life was good. Now knowing me, I was probably frustrated, discouraged, and discombobulated. I’m not exactly sure what that means but I am sure I felt it that day. But the bottom line is, we had fun. Even then we laughed at the hot mess we were in. It was a story we would tell our kids one day. Well, we have and it still brings a smile to our lips.
I know there is so much craziness today. So many missteps, so many “I don’t knows,” so many “Saars” when it should have been a “Zwei.” But remember this. There is a God who is writing this story called your life and He is a God who loves a good adventure. And the things that we count as disruptions just might be one of His great adventures purposely put in our path for our ultimate good and pleasure. David, in Psalm 37:23 writes, “The steps of a good person are ordered [directed, planned] by the Lord. And He delights in that path.” In other words, God has a plan and it is a plan that He has written just for you. I know I sometimes question my GPS when it takes me down some crazy roads to save a minute or two but I am learning to just enjoy the journey. I wrote a few days back that Judy and I love to drive around and try to get lost. One of my friends said, “Come on down to Pope County. I can get you lost.” I think I’m gonna take him up on it. I’ll have my trusty GPS on standby and my friend won’t be too far away so it should be a great adventure. I’ll just go along for the ride and rest in Him. After all, He’s got this. Guten Tag.