Salvation Vacation 3: My Big Horrible, Awful, Stinkin’ Mistake


(Read part 1 of 5 here)

I didn’t mean to do it. Really. I just lost track of time. I had great intentions… Uh, what is it they say about excuses?

It was a simple errand. My wife Karen requested that I take the picnic stuff back to the car while she and the kids waited for me at the San Diego Zoo Tram ride. Righto!

Off I went, cooler in hand. “Be right back, honey.” Kiss. Kiss.

Got my hand stamped at the gate, gave a million dollar bill Gospel tract to the attendant then… asked her the million dollar question: “If you were to die today, would you go to Heaven or Hell?” I set the cooler down.

“Heaven,” she replied. That got us started on a lengthy discussion ending only when she said, “You know… everyone has their own interpretation of what the Bible means…”

I thanked her for listening and left her with an evangelistic farewell: “You can interpret the Bible anyway you want, but remember, unless you repent, you, too, will perish.” I picked up the cooler and scampered away.

Two men with crew cuts caught my attention. Either they had just returned from Iraq or were soon to be deployed; either way, they needed some hope. “Hi! Did you get one of these?” I asked, handing them each a Gospel tract. “The million dollar question is on the back. Are you going to Iraq?”

“I just returned,” Nicholas answered, “but I’m heading back.” Eric said that he would be leaving to go there soon.

Setting the cooler down I started taking them through the 10 Commandments because they both thought that they were good enough to get to Heaven. When they realized they would be found guilty on Judgment Day and end up in Hell they looked very concerned. “You don’t know that you will return from Iraq,” I reminded with grave concern. “Its important you understand that you need to repent and trust in Jesus for forgiveness of sins.”

A guy in a truck overheard us, stopped, and shouted out the passenger window: “Listen to what he has to say! I’ll be right back!” He parked the pickup and ran over to us. “I stopped when I heard you say to these guys that it is a sin to look at chicks’ butts.”

“Uh, I didn’t exactly say that…”

“Sure ya did!”

I tried to clarify. “This is what I said: ‘Jesus said that if you look at a woman with lust then you’ve committed adultery with her already in your heart. Have you ever done that?’ ”

We continued to talk for a little while until I looked at my watch. OH NO! What time did I leave?

“Excuse me guys, I”ve got to go.” The guy in the truck was a Christian; he proceeded to give the Marines his testimony as I ran to the car, unloaded the cooler, grabbed some giant hundred dollar bills (with a fuller gospel message), hurried back to the Marines, gave them the tracts…
null …then ran back to meet my family at the tram.

No one was there.

How long was I gone? Wait. Wait a minute… Maybe they took the tram without me. Man, I’m in for it. I was indeed.

When my family finally caught up with me, I learned that they thought I was mugged, robbed, killed—or worse. They prayed, cried, prayed, walked around, looked around, prayed, cried… My wife ever so gently reminded me that I had left them without water, keys to the car, cell phone, and money—and she had to walk for miles looking for me with two little girls in tow.

A simple 10 minute journey ended up taking an hour. I completely lost track of time and was without excuse. My priorities were all wrong; my family always has to come first; I must be a man of my word. After all, it is God who saves people. And he can even do it without me.

The tram ride was long and quiet.

 But the monkeys were cute.

(Read part 4 here)

(Read the rule of evangelizing when family members are present by clicking here.)


  1. from the GNN MB

    Pastor Steve,
    I’m sorry to say but you made another “big, horrible, awful, stinkin’ mistake” you came to San Diego and never said a word. I live right down the street from the SD Zoo. I know i’ve been told I look like a monkey and smell like one too, but no excuses (as you say)!

    All jokes aside, great story and great reminder.

    Next time you’re in town, be sure and say hi!

    Our team is planning an evangelistic road trip around SoCal.
    We would love to meet up you guys in the next month or so.

  2. Love to have you visit. Go to and click on the “Evangelism Extreme” banner to see the schedule!

  3. Steve,

    My wife is very time and task focused so I would have been in trouble. Thanks for the link there about witnessing with family. I think it would be hard to stop and witness at every person when your wife and two very young kids are there wanting to do this and that.

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