Some years ago we drove across to the Czech republic for a couple of weeks with the family, towing our ancient folding camper (cross between a trailer tent and a folding caravan). We left Czech a few days before our channel ferry booking, to spend a couple of nights around Brussels – a very underrated city well worth visiting, my husband informed me. It turned out that every English family had travelled across to Europe that weekend, as the currency had suddenly got extremely favourable, so there was not a campsite place to be had. We just kept going towards Calais, trying to find somewhere to spend the nights. No joy. I rang the ferry company to see if we could bring our crossing forward, but they were fully booked. With nowhere else to go, we arrived at the dockside, and there were tents and caravans sprawled in every available nook! We had already been travelling 48 hours napping here and there in the car – 5 of us packed in like sardines amongst all our essential stuff, and our wash bags packed inaccessibly in the trailer – we hadn’t quite planned it this way. We must have honked!
There was a long queue tailing around the booking office. It was now a little before midnight. “I’ll take the tickets and see what can be done. You lot had better pray!” I told the family. I reached the sevice desk at 12.45.
“Is there any way we could get an earlier crossing?” I asked.
“Will one o’clock be OK for you,” she replied.
“One o’clock in, like, 15 minutes?”
And it was. We were the first car onto an extra ferry they had dug out of some ferry archive. It was ancient, stunk of diesel (which perhaps helped masked our delicate aromas!) and had very limited restaurant capabilities. But it was going to England!
Somewhat green, we landed on the home shore and travelled back up north, arriving home Sunday afternoon, a good two days before schedule. Shattered, but home.
On the Monday morning I took a phone call. I was offered a job that essentially changed the course of our lives. They had been calling for 2 weeks, and this was their last attempt. If our holiday hadn’t been curtailed so abruptly, our whole lives might have taken a different course.
So I do think there are times when God just grabs us by the hand and pulls us out from a situation. I’d love to hear if anyone else has a story where that’s happened. Genesis 19 v 16 is one such instance. I love that phrase “for the Lord was merciful to them”. So often the Lord is being ‘merciful’ but we fight him the whole way, because we do not understand the bigger picture. I am overwhelmed sometimes at the kindness of God. Especially when you look back on events. Sometimes he leads us by taking our hands, as with Lot’s family, and sometimes it feels more like the scruff of the neck! But we so we need to trust him, just trust him.