I'm sure most of us have seen those signs on the highway that read, "Gas, Food and Loading." I love travelling on long trips by car, and I notice things along the highway, including those "gas, food and loading" signs. They're not as common in the middle of the most populated metro areas, as most exits have desired services of motorists, but on the outskirts of town or on the open highway, the "gas, food and loading" signs tell motorists that this next exit has the basic necessities of road trip travel. I've noticed the "gas, food and loading" signs ever since I was old enough to read as a small child. I've seen a million "gas, food and loading" signs and continue to notice them every time I travel.
Quite often, the "gas, food and loading" signs are accompanied by icons of a knife and fork or a gas pump to illustrate to the [supposed illiterate or foreigner] traveler what he can expect at the next exit. I've taken advantage of the "gas, food and loading" signs many times in finding what I need while travelling.
I always wondered what the term "loading" meant on the signs, as I knew what gas and food were. I assumed that those people on the road needed some kind of supplies to continue on their trip, so they would need to "load" supplies in their car. But, whatever needed to be loaded, the next exit was sure to have it.
One day in my mid-thirties I was driving down the highway and saw a "gas, food and loading" sign. Except, I wasn't paying attention to the sign; it just appeared in my vision; I didn't consciously read the sign. Because of this I mis-read the sign. This particular sign didn't say, "gas, food and loading", rather it said, "gas, food and lodging." I did a double take, a triple take, and a long stunned focus. I was absolutely floored at what I read. It took a while, but I realized that I had not mis-read this sign, but I had mis-read all of the previous signs my whole life. The first time I ever read the sign when I was a small child I read it incorrectly, and it stuck with me the rest of my life. Or until my mid-thirties at least. Then I realized what the meaning of this was. The word "loading" wasn't there, as in needing to load up on supplies, but the word "lodging" was there, meaning that there were places to stay the night. It all came clear to me.
I am firmly convinced that most of us read the bible the same way. The first time we read something - or have something explained to us by somebody else - we often get the wrong read, and it continues with us a long time, maybe the rest of our lives. We re-read the same error over and over, convincing ourselves that the error is true, making it all the harder to discover any error at all. Sometimes, God has mercy and reveals the real truth to us. I hope you find the same.
Originally posted 06/08 and 12/09.