Have you ever had an “OOPS!” moment? You know, when things don’t go exactly as planned? My husband and I had a few of those on our recent six-day drive into the heart of Mexico. Howard and Joyce, our Mazatlan friends, invited Dave and me to join them for a sight-seeing, shopping 1000-mile loop. Howard would drive. Dave would be on alert for road signs (frequently hidden behind trees or appearing only when rounding a sharp curve), warn Howard of topes (large, unmarked speed bumps) and pray. All of that came in handy. Without it, I fear this might be my obituary and not my weekly article.
The OOPS! road detours caused multiple delays and directional guessing games to find our hotels. More than once, we were back where we had started, all the while looking for a gas station when the warning light came on in Howard’s car. OOPS!
We were to spend nights in Tlaquepaque, Guanajuato and Zacatecas. Guanajuato, known for its underground roadways created from the old gold and silver mines. was a special thrill. Upon entering the city, Howard pulled to the side of the road and picked up Moises, a Mexican “guide” who navigated us through the archaic tunnels, pointing in the direction we needed to drive. Without him, we would be in Nicaragua. We tipped him well after he carried our heavier suitcases the two blocks from the parking lot up the cobblestone streets to our hotel.
Our rooms were ultra-contemporary, and the city beamed with entertainment. With its traveling minstrels, an orchestra performing in the nearby park, five Mariachi bands and performers doubling as statues, there was no end to the talent we saw.
The following day, per my request, we headed to Leon where over 100 leather stores boasted of their hand-made wares. Soon I found the eight-dollar wallet I wanted and we were on our way to Zacatecas where, according to Howard, the tourist attractions were unrivaled.
With no signs to the “Cuota” (toll road), we ended up on the Libre, the free, winding-until-you -throw-up, traffic-jammed, two-way road. Big OOPS! Our three-hour trip to Zacatecas took six. Once we arrived at our hotel, a converted bull ring, it was too late to tour. We would need to cram more in the next day, but OOPS! Not so fast. We learned that a bridge had been damaged by an overturned semi-truck, so we needed to cut our trip short and return the way we had come instead of completing our loop. We had traveled all day NOT to tour this city.
I’ve decided that our journey last week was kind of like life, except our OOPS! had no lasting effects. Many do. We plan our daily-weekly-monthly-yearly schedules and have our lives pretty well figured out until we are derailed by the unexpected. The OOPS! moments that change our directions: unfulfilled dreams; investments that go South; illness; divorce; a friend’s betrayal; a natural disaster; death.
Luke 12:16-21 is a parable about a rich man who had a plan. With no place to store his abundant crops, he tore down his barns and built bigger ones for his surplus grain. Pick it up in verse 18. “And I’ll say to myself, ‘You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.’
“But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself? This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.’”
In reality, my OOPS! moments were just “oops” moments, temporary detours which meant nothing in the scheme of life. Missing God, however? Now, that’s an OOPS! decision none of us can afford to make.