Hello, San Diego!
Well, today was a travel day. And for the first time in 38 years, Janet and I are in San Diego this evening – getting ready for a conference that I will attending the next several days for one of my clients. We started out leaving our home at 9:30 this morning, and arrived here, almost 12 hours later, after being routed through Dallas. As much as we both love the Indianapolis area, there is no denying that it is tough to travel from Indy. There are no major airlines headquartered in Indianapolis, and most trips require a stop-over somewhere before I can get to my destination.
So it was today. Now I am used to traveling through Dallas – I think I have been there about 60 times in the last five years, but today was the first time that we have headed out west to re-visit one of the places that we went on our honeymoon back in 1973.
And, as you know me by now, I’m sure that it doesn’t come as any surprise that the trip has reminded me of a story – our first trip together after Janet and I were married on August 24, 1973. No – we didn’t head right out west – I was in summer school building up additional credits to graduate early, and I had finals the week after our wedding. So after the reception, we headed to a Hyatt in northwest Chicago and stayed the week-end there. Then, we headed back to our new apartment for a week and I took my finals at school; flying out of O’Hare the next Friday for San Fransisco. We travelled down the coast and ended up visiting Los Angeles, Monterey, San Diego and many of the familiar locations we have all heard about. Big Sur, the Hearst Castle, Beverly Hills, San Juan Capistrano, the San Diego Zoo, Ocean World (to see Shamu, of course) and even La Jolla, where my great aunt lived at the time were all places that we visited on our honeymoon.
Our first dinner together was in San Fransisco. We decided to eat on the wharf and were the first ones at the buffet when the place opened. After all, we were on Central time, and it was actually later for us! Anyway, I was the big man on campus and this was our first meal together on our first trip together. Janet and I went up and helped ourselves to the various salads and assortments of breads. It was really something to behold. The spread looked so fresh and clean. No mess, nothing out of place – a thing of beauty to behold.
Anyway, I noticed crackers, bread sticks and other breads in the shapes of sea creatures right next to the salad station. It was really creative. I broke off a leg of bread from the crab and we returned to our seats to begin our first course. Before I could get a bite of this great looking bread, the maitre d’ approached the table and let me know that what I was about to eat was not fresh bread – I had broken a piece off their varnished bread center piece that had been in the restaurant for twenty years! Talk about being embarrassed – I could hardly stand it. All the employees of the place were laughing and I should have learned my lesson of humility right there – but over the years I have done a bunch of dumb stuff.
It’s just that I didn’t think I would start out our married life that way – now, years later, I look back and can laugh at myself, but it wasn’t so funny at the time. And as I write this evening, I can’t help but chuckle at my naiveté and lack of experience back then.
So, tonight we’re getting ready to go to bed early by local standards, but we’re both really tired – long day. And though I am sure that I could write for another hour or more, and tell you all kinds of great stories about California, I am consumed by one thought. And that thought is that God knew all about Janet and me, both back then and now. How could either of us ever predicted that we would return at this time and place for a business convention? For that matter, both of us are amazed at how blessed we have been in our lives together. Neither one of us can imagine life without the other – and here we are 38 years later – back in San Diego.
The verse for tonight comes from my favorite Psalm – 139. I have been dwelling on the first part of the psalm where the writer is focused on the omnipresence of God and how God is with him everywhere he goes. That’s the way I feel tonight – God is present wherever I am. In Indiana, Europe, Dallas, New Jersey and yes, even California.
And God is the same for me in all those places – and as I sit here, I am dwelling on how my relationship with God has grown since I was here the last time. Psalm 139:7-10 tells us, “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.” Those words are comforting to me. Because God never leaves me alone. He doesn’t leave you alone either.
My encouragement tonight is to let you know that God is always with you – guiding you and keeping you company on your journey. My prayer is that you will continue to seek His wisdom and guidance for your life no matter where you are. God is a constant in our lives – never changing – always dependable and stable. So even when you are in unfamiliar surroundings, you can count on God to get you through. He was there that day in San Fransisco back in 1973; and He’s with me right here in San Diego this evening. Knowing God’s sense of humor, He may be laughing about that broken centerpiece even now. Just so you know, I had a hot dog this evening; and passed on the bread……Grace and peace….