Stranded in the Desert

Imagen 113A typical desert scene in Baja California, Mexico

Unless you were on a date with your girlfriend in the’ 50s or ‘60s, the jerk, rumble, race, jerk, rattle, stop of running out of gas is never good.  Running out of gas in the middle of the desert of Baja California, Mexico is not just not good, it is a miserable experience – a miserable experience  on steroids.  Very hot, wind-borne sand, toddler screaming in his car seat in a van full of people on the way home from a baptism on the beach – it was not a good day.

For ego’s sake I was glad it wasn’t my vehicle that ran out of gas.  It was a borrowed pickup truck that formed part of our multi-car caravan that was driving back to Ciudad Constitución  from the beach town of Ligui, about 2 hours away. The pickup ran dry and brought our convoy to a halt in a steep sided desert  valley.

This should not really have  been a problem because, just like my Ford van, the borrowed Ford pickup had dual gas tanks.  Being the experienced  Ford man that I was, whose van’s dashboard was identical to the stranded pickup’s dashboard,  I simply went over to the pickup, opened the door and ….. the toggle switch  to access the second gas tank was not there.   I looked and looked and poked and prodded and searched the dash looking for the little switch that would activate the second tank of gas.  It was not there.

We finally managed to flag down a “Green Angel”  patrol truck, part of a fleet of vehicles and mechanics who drive the Baja Peninsula helping stranded tourists, and bought gasoline from them.  I asked the driver of the borrowed pickup if he were sure about which tank to pour the fresh gasoline into, because if he poured it into the wrong tank we would, in effect,  still be without access to the fuel.  He assured me he knew into which tank to pour the gas.  Naturally,  he poured the gas into the tank we could not access and we ended up with a 110% full fuel tank but no way to get at it.

In desperation in the hot sun in the remote nothingness of the Baja desert we crawled under the pickup and rerouted the gas lines.  It worked and we drove on back to Ciudad Constitución.  When we returned the borrowed truck I asked the owner where the switch was to activate the second fuel tank.  “Right here.”  It was smack dab  in the middle of the dash board, and it was labeled, in English even,  “Front Tank  – Rear Tank.”    Any kindergartner could have read it.    How could I have missed it after an hour of frustrated desperate searching?

In my van, with the exact same dashboard and the exact same switch arrangement, it also had a clearly labeled  Front and Rear switch……for the front air-conditioner and the rear air-conditioner.   In my familiarity with the known,  my mind had assumed both switches were identical in function,  never stopping to ask myself, “Why would a pickup have a rear air-conditioner?”  My assumptions created a very embarrassing situation.  My assumptions kept me from reading and seeing reality.

The moral of this story?  When you read your Bible, are you so familiar with it that you already know what it says?  Do you read your Bible to confirm what you say you believe or do you read your Bible in order to challenge your beliefs, the surrounding status quo, your traditions, or what you are taught by others who may not be challenging what they read?  I fear we conservative Christians  are too often looking at  a familiar dashboard.