“I Love Visiting Maine, But Let’s Use the Portland Airport Next Time, Not Boston’s Logan Airport”
More of “Scripture Signposts for Hiking through Life:
Happy Trails Guided by God’s Word (Volume 1: 20th century)”
Dr. James J. S. Johnson
For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself for the battle?1st Corinthians 14:8
Communicating can be simple, yet it can also be complex.
Sometimes communication can be confusing, especially if signals sent (in communication) are misinterpreted by the recipient. Even so, sometimes misunderstood communications—blended within God’s providences—may result in good outcomes, as is illustrated below.
This memory of God’s providences begins with a happy family vacation in Maine–beautiful coastal scenery, fresh chilly air accented by ocean salt, wonderful foods, sounds of tidewaters, blending many happy examples of God’s marvelous blessings.
More than once, prior to A.D.1992, we took a summer vacation to Maine—visiting various beautiful places along the Atlantic coastline—enjoying the sights (such as lighthouses, rocky beaches, and seagulls) and savors (such as lobster chowder, blue mussels, and sea scallops).
Almost all of our summer vacation experiences were thoroughly relaxing and enjoyable—but not the agonizing hours of traffic (and other experiences) near and at Boston’s Logan International Airport, which by default was the most practical airport for us Texans to use for air travel (and thus also for getting and returning a rent-car).
So, at the end of a summer vacation, having enjoyed highlights of Maine’s coast, we returned our ourselves, our luggage, and our rent-car, to Boston’s Logan Airport.
Apparently, within the terminal, American Airlines was having some kind of impressive sale, my wife informed me. If we bought our air travel tickets for next summer (i.e., for the summer of A.D.1992), that day, we would get tickets at a remarkably reduced rate, so it seemed like a good idea to buy those tickets then and there.
Assenting to my wife’s recommendation, I replied with words like this: “Go ahead and get tickets for next summer, except I hate coming to this airport—so please get tickets that go to Portland, not Boston.”
Of course, Maine’s Portland airport is not as large as is Boston’s Logan Airport, so I expected less traffic congestion (and thus less time wasted in traffic delays), plus using the Portland airport would take us directly into scenic Maine itself, rather than using Boston as a time-consuming launching pad for visiting Maine.
At my suggestion my wife seemed a bit surprised: “Really? So, you prefer Portland, rather than coming back here next summer?” Since I had repeatedly complained about the wasted time in frustratingly ever-congested traffic (that is inescapable whenever coming into or out of Boston’s Logan Airport), I was myself a bit surprised that my wife seemed surprised, at my preferring our use of Maine’s Portland airport.
“Yes”, I confirmed: “Let’s get Portland tickets for next summer—I think that would be a lot better than doing this again next year.”
So, as I sat guarding all of our family’s luggage (and our 9-year-old son), my wife dutifully went across the room, waited in line, and eventually purchased air tickets for next year’s summer vacation.
Returning to where we waited, she happily announced that she had saved “a lot of money”—(that’s always good!)—and now we could “work on planning the details of our next summer’s vacation in Oregon”!
Oregon? “What do you mean, Oregon?”
Oh, she thought I that meant the “Portland” in Oregon, but I was thinking of the “Portland” in Maine.
So, next summer’s vacation would obviously be quite different from what I was expecting. But it worked out well—in fact, very well, as will be noted below.
But the surprise (and misunderstanding) was due to a communication confusion—I had assumed that my wife knew that I was talking about Maine’s Portland, but she assumed that I was referring to Oregon’s Portland.
That simple misunderstanding illustrates some basic principles about communication:
[Even a dog’s] barking is a communicative signal—a consciously prepared message sent from one intelligent creature to another for the purpose of prompting a behavioral response that will benefit the “speaking” animal.Although simple, this is true communication. There’s a message sender, a receiver, and a transmitted message in the form of understandable coded information, and the sender’s intention is to influence a responsive action by the receiver. . . .
Such an action isn’t a true signal unless its purpose is to elicit a response from a signal-comprehending recipient. … No real communication occurs without these ingredients: a sender preparing and sending the message, a receiver capable of a response-relevant understanding of the message, and a language or comparable information code known to both sender and receiver.JJSJ, “God Crafted Creatures to Communicate”, ACTS & FACTS (November 2019), posted at www.icr.org/article/god-crafted-creatures-to-communicate —
Fast-forward to the summer of A.D.1992, when I neared a major “crossroads” in my professional career.
And, just as our family had previously experienced wonderful scenery in Maine (such as Acadia National Park), we also experienced wonderful scenery in Oregon (such as Crater Lake National Park).
Visiting Oregon’s Portland would provide a decision-determining factor that I might not have experienced if our family vacation had visited Maine’s Portland.
Sometimes God’s providence arrives via surprises.
In particular, our family vacation to Oregon, during the summer of A.D.1992, included a visit to Lava Butte, a cinder cone (at an elevation higher than 5000 feet) produced by Newberry Volcano, which may be visited as part of the Newberry Volcano National Volcanic Monument (located inside the Deschutes National Forest, administered by the U.S. Forest Service).
As my career was then about to take a professional turn in a new direction, facilitated by an unusual educational opportunity, I needed to choose between a graduate program in American Christian history (which is a subset of Providential history) and a graduate program in creation science education (with special attention to creation ecology and environmental studies, including concentrations in biome ecology and ornithology).
Because I was a practicing lawyer, with a special appreciation for America’s founding era (with its uniquely providential heritage of Christianity-friendly Constitutional law and legal history), I was almost sure that I would select the path of American Christian legal history, rather than the path of Biblical creation science education.
However, while visiting Lava Butte, I overheard a conversation involving an evolutionist “expert” telling lies to a young inquisitive child.
The more I thought about the evolutionary misinformation, and how trusting the child was (while being blasphemously lied to), the angrier I got, about how pervasive evolutionary cosmogony education (including recreation-oriented education) is in America — and what a distraction that fake-science mythology is (illustrating 1st Timothy 6:20-21a), deviating from Biblical Christianity.
So, I changed my mind, then and there, about which educational program I would thereafter pursue — and now, more than 30 years later, I’ve devoted much of my professional life and labors to creation science education (linked to Biblical apologetics), with an emphasis in creation ecology.
So, as Romans 8:28 teaches, it all worked out well in the end, according to God’s providence.
(And, yes, my wife and I eventually used the airport in Maine’s Portland, but that occurred many years later, for an adventurous visit to a salmon-farming operation in Eastport, Maine — but that travel adventure must be told another day, God willing.)
 See James J. S. Johnson & Tim Clarey, “Acadia: The Maine Jewel Among America’s Parks”, ACTS & FACTS (July 2021), posted at ww.icr.org/article/acadia-maine-jewel-among-america-parks .
 See Tim Clarey & James J. S. Johnson, “Crater Lake National Park: Serene Beauty After Volcanic History”, ACTS & FACTS (January 2022), posted at www.icr.org/article/crater-lake-national-park/ .