That’s NOT in the Brochure

Oct 29, 2021


A dead battery, going in reverse on busy street, and failing breaks weren’t in the brochure. Let’s address the twist and turns of our work.

When I picked out a few activities for our vacation this summer, I fell in love with the San Francisco VW Bus Tour. The brochure featured a tie-dye van from the 1970’s traveling down Lombard Street-- the road with 8 hairpin curves and a 16% grade.1 “This is perfect!” Yet, when we arrived, the van was getting jumpstarted... When a second tie-dye van arrived, I thought, “Oh good, let’s get into that one!”

Once snuggly seated with four other adventure-seekers, our driver struggled to find first gear. Once she did, she also found the sidewalk. We bounced so wildly, one passenger teased, “Did you want me to drive?” We all laughed, but not for long... We suddenly jolted backwards in the middle of a busy intersection. “Oh, there’s reverse!” she exclaimed, over the sound of grinding gears.

When we made it to the famous Lombard Street, she announced, “We really aren’t supposed to go down this street.” If I had had any room to signal my disappointment by shifting in my seat, I would have. I wanted to say, “Look, Lady, we are going down this road-- it was in the brochure!” As if she read my mind, we lurched into the narrow winding lane. At the bottom, she confessed, “Our breaks really aren’t suited for that steep grade...” What?!

In our work, we often encounter what isn’t in the brochure:

  • Dead Battery: When headlights are dimming or you can’t get the vehicle started, you might have a failing battery. In business ventures, our own power fails, too. We try hard to make things work under our own power, rather than having faith in God’s provision.
  • In Reverse: If the reverse lockout plate is missing on a 45-year-old vehicle and its driver moves the gear shift too far left, you can unexpectedly switch a moving van into reverse at any speed.2 We must persevere through mistakes and unexpected changes in direction.
  • Bad Brakes: In 1922, Lombard Street had a grade of 27%. Switchbacks would “add aesthetic appeal while increasing safety for pedestrians.”3 We encounter steep, treacherous terrain at work; but we can creatively reduce the level of risk or difficulty.

Abraham must have wondered about the winding road he took as a father. In Genesis, God promises Abraham and Sarah a son.4 But, Sarah, now pushing 90, doubted God and insisted her maid, Hagar, be her surrogate. Once Hagar became pregnant, the women experienced irreconcilable differences.5

After these dramatic twists and turns, the centenarian did have a son with Sarah, named Isaac-- whom in the very next chapter, God asks Abraham to sacrifice.6 What?! I can imagine Abraham shouting, “Aren’t we going backward here? That’s NOT in the brochure!” Isaac is ultimately spared and because Abraham was willing to obey. …And, the LORD made this solemn promise:

“I will bless you and give you such a large family, that someday your descendants will be more numerous than the stars in the sky or the grains of sand along the seashore. ~ Genesis 22:17a CEV

Both Sarah and I had doubt. We manipulated our circumstances to get what we thought was in the brochure. What if Sarah had just trusted God? What if I had not insisted on taking the second van? Consider what you are doing under your own power or where you might be going in the wrong direction.

Sources: Inside Guide to San Francisco Tourism: Lombard Street San Francisco; 2 YouTube: How to shift into reverse on a Volkswagen (0m 50s); 3 SFTodo: Lombard Crooked Street – San Francisco; 4 Genesis 12:2, Genesis 15:4, 5, and Genesis 18:10; 5 Genesis 16; 6 Genesis 21, 22.

by Michelle Sugerman • Leading Synergies, LLC • © All Rights Reserved

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