Have you ever asked for a sign to help you make a decision, then when you got it, you complained that you didn’t understand why it turned out that way? I have, but this time I’m not going to complain. This time I’m keeping my mouth shut…after I tell you about my experience, that is.
Here’s the deal: Back in January, I was alerted about a wonderful picture book seminar to be held on March 26th. There were three women on the panel; one who’s illustrated over 80 picture books, one who’s written over 40 picture books, and one former editor of a large New York publishing company. Yummy, right?
Well, I paid for the seminar, reserved my car and prepared to meet my picture book heroes. I’ve written several PB’s that still have no home, so I was looking forward to learning all I could. I picked up my car on the 25th, made my “to-do” list so I wouldn’t forget anything, and went to sleep at 10pm so I could get on the road at 4am for the 4 ½ hr drive to Lexington, KY. But before I left, I got on my knees and asked God to go with me, protect me and bring me home safely. I also asked that if it wasn’t meant for me to be at the seminar, please show me a sign—only not the kind where you crash into a tree, or anything like that.
So…I was off! After an hour-and-a half of driving, I neared Exit 385, the first major exit I was supposed to take. I was right on schedule, however, as I neared the exit I realized it was about to split in two directions: Left toward Lexington, and right toward Asheville. Now mind you, it was only 5:30am, it was raining, and there was no moon or stars, so I couldn’t exactly see my map to tell which way to go. Plus, the road was surprisingly busy for that time of morning, so I couldn’t ogle the map the way I wanted. I could only glance at it quickly before I swung my eyes back to the road, and I couldn’t find the clue I needed to know which way to go. Then I made a tragic mistake: I used logic to make my decision. See, I figured since the seminar was in Lexington, it was only logical to take the Lexington exit.
I sailed serenely down the Lexington exit, and after 30+ minutes, I glanced at my map. Guess what? For some inexplicable reason I could now see the key words, and discovered I should have taken the Asheville exit after all! Of course it makes very little sense to me that I should take the Asheville exit to go to a seminar in Lexington, but there it was in black and white! So I drove to the next exit (40 more miles!) turned around, and headed back in the opposite direction.
After about 30 minutes, I got the shock of my life. I spied Exit 3 toward Lexington, which was the next exit on my map AFTER the Asheville exit. By now I’m dumbfounded. How had I found that exit so quickly when I hadn’t even gotten back to where I was supposed to be to turn around and make the Asheville turn?? But since I didn’t want to lose anymore time, I got on Exit 3 toward Lexington and sailed happily down the road, feeling pretty proud that I was going to make it to the seminar after all.
As I breezed down the highway, I suddenly got this feeling I get when I know in my gut I’m going the wrong way. I can’t explain it, but…I just knew something was wrong. Then I saw a sign that said, Dollywood, and another that said, Gatlinburg, and I knew I’d better stop.
I pulled into this nice truck stop, filled up, then asked the clerk for the address so I could put it in my iphone and see how much further I needed to go.
“You’re in Dumplin Valley,” she said.
“Dumplin Valley, Tennessee.”
Now that really didn’t sound right! I put the address into my phone and discovered I was 3 ½ hours away from the Lexington seminar. Huh? How in the world had that happened? It was now 7am, I’d been driving 3 hours, and the entire trip was only supposed to be 4 ½ hours long. So, what happened?
Then it hit me. When I found Exit 3, I should have remembered that I was coming from the opposite direction (after having taken the wrong exit at the 385 split), so instead of following the direction on my map, I should have driven in the opposite direction. Instead, I had driven another hour or so in the wrong direction!
Are you confused yet? I certainly am (and was!!!).
So I had a decision to make: Should I ride 3 ½ more hours and arrive at the 8:30am seminar between 10:30 and 11:00? It was scheduled to end at 1:30, giving me only a couple of hours rest before it was time to get on the road again. Could I do it? Or should I just take my directionless *ss back home to Chattanooga?
I decided to go home. According to my iphone, the traveling time from Dumplin Valley to Chattanooga was a mere 2 ½ hours. (Go figure! I’d been driving away from Chattanooga for three hours, but it would only take 2 ½ hours to return). I’m sure I don’t have to tell you how annoyed I was. I’d been waiting for this seminar for two months, and now here I was, on my way home with nothing but a numb *ss and blood-shot eyes to show for it.
But as I drove, I thought…and remembered. Hadn’t I prayed and asked God to lead me and protect me? Hadn’t I asked Him that if it wasn’t meant to be, please show me (without pain or bloodshed) that there would be other seminars, but this wasn’t the one for me? Well, He had shown me, because no matter how many times I turned around and went in the opposite direction toward my destination, I never got anywhere near that seminar. So, I asked, He answered, and now all I need to do is say thank you and shut my mouth.
Best wishes and happy writing,