Sunday, May 16, 2010

When to worry

Oxford trip: The rest of the story.

We left our friends in Oxford and headed back. They were going to visit Stonehenge and Bath and return around 11pm.

At 1am they were not back nor had we heard from them. Even though it was only 2 hours off schedule I was still getting a little concerned. They had two young children, and it didn't seem like something they would do; stay out so late with children. My thoughts began to think the worse at 2am and still no word from them. Were they OK? Why hadn't they called or shown up? Had they been in a wreck? I mean driving in the UK is different. My friend had been a little stressed, and rightfully so, by having to enter the round-abouts from the left rather than right and simply by the difference in Continental driving and UK driving.

And still why had we not heard from them? Did their cell phone die? Most certainly. I had gotten their voice mail when I had tried to call it. But then why had they not simply shown up? Had they run out of gas along the route? Had they forgotten to yield in the round-about and been hit by another driver and were in the hospital? Or worse, had they flipped their car on the road or into a ditch? Were they OK?

I began to pray for their safety and their well-being. But admittedly I could hardly pray. I simply told God to accept my worry as a prayer for their safety. Lady R said we should get some rest and deal with the issue in the morning. My thought was that if they were in danger we needed to get some help to them sooner rather than later. But I laid down and closed my eyes and somehow did drift off to sleep. Until... 4:30am I woke up from a nightmare very upset and fearing the absolute worse. The scene was just outside the apartment and two tall people came around a corner. I recognized them in the dream (but they were obviously a creation of mind because the two were not real people) as my friends spokespeople. And somehow I knew they had just returned from the hospital. I just kept saying, "oh no, oh no." The guy asked me if my roll cage had been installed in my car. And I couldn't answer with a "yes," or "no," I could only say, "oh no, oh no," The man responded with a warm smile and said it was not what I was thinking. For what I was thinking was that my friends were in the hospital and had flipped their car. They were injured but at least not dead.

When I woke up, I got up out of bed, tried to calm down, and thought that we had to call someone. I woke up Lady R. and told her we should call a friend who would know what to do. She asked if I was sure I really wanted to do this and wake him up. I said I was very sure. As you can imagine at 4:30 am, he was not so coherent, but he heard our story and suggested we wait til 8:30am before we started calling hospitals and the police. He said there were a couple of logical reasons why we had not heard from our visitors. And if they were going to those places, it would be impossible for us to get out on the highway and start looking ourselves. He suggested some rest.

On the dot at 8:30am he called and asked if we had heard anything. Nothing. He came over as we put together a plan of action. We would wait until the afternoon then we would start calling hospitals and the police. My friend's logical reason was that their cell phone had died. They had gotten to far from "home base," and had simply found a hotel for the night and would make their way back sometime in the morning.

As we were passing the time, my friend's wife called and said she had just heard from our visitors. Everyone was fine!! Praise God.

What had happened? Indeed, our friends did leave Oxford a little later than they had expected. They went to Stonehenge, Bath, and even to Straford upon Avon, where they found a lovely hotel for the night. Their cell phone had almost died so they had turned it off. They had taken on too much to get back to our place by 11pm. But why hadn't they simply called? They had. They had the wrong phone number, and since it was so late they didn't want to bother calling our local friends and waited til 9am to call them to call us. They had emailed at 11:30pm, 30 minutes after we had last checked our email and turned in for the night.

When they showed up later that day, we hugged and shared stories. It was too much of a dramatic experience not to have learned some lessons.

1) Communicate clearly when separating from you party. Make sure everyone knows the contingency plan if things change or if someone gets into trouble.
2) You can't trust nightmares. Your mind can create stuff at night when your sleeping that is simply not connected to reality. It is just you living out your own fears in your heads.
3) Even though you can't trust your dreams, figure out the elements of the dream and where they come from. Do this when you have calmed down from the anxiety produced by the nightmares. And don't make rash decisions based on nightmares. Get other people involved to help you think clearly if you feel you need to act on a dream.
4) I do not have the spiritual gift of prophecy, and one can't always trust your intuition. This was already a known, but now I have a powerful reminder.
5) I should work on worry and trusting God more in situations in life. Tough stuff.

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