The Great Passport Disaster


Every parent knows that kids learn more from your life than your lips. By example, I have taught my son Steve that credit cards are like mosquitos. They’ll suck your blood if you let them. I’ve taught him to eat a live toad each morning, that way when tough things happen later on, none will seem quite so bad. And I’ve taught him to always keep his passport in a safe place. After what happened recently, I don’t think he’ll forget it.

Now, in his defence, my son did manage to keep his passport safe while flying around Europe and Africa though I wasn’t there to remind him. But I had reason to be concerned recently because he once lost his wallet, searched the house, and found it in the fridge. We laughed about this but when he accompanied me on a business trip to Florida, I told him how a friend had misplaced her passport in Colombia and spent the day at the embassy. “Keep it in a safe place,” I said. “Oh no,” he responded. “I think I left it in the fridge.” 

On our second day in Florida, a state with more toll booths than alligators, we went grocery shopping, then to the beach. Strolling along by the dunes, I heard my phone buzz. It was my daughter Rachael. “Dad, you left your passport in a grocery store in Orlando.” What a silly thing to say! She’s always playing pranks. Jamming socks in my shirt sleeves. Then I thought, “How would she know I was in a grocery store in Orlando?” After a long pause, I said, “I had been multi-tasking. Shopping, while talking on the phone and asking for directions to the beach. A guy has trouble doing this. So it stands to reason that I managed to pull my passport from my pocket and leave it on the counter of a grocery store. Miraculously, it was safe, thanks to a phone number in the back and an honest clerk, but I couldn’t imagine what my son would say when I told him. 

The passport disaster was a reminder to me of my tendency to criticize others. About pride and humility. A reminder of 1 Cor. 10:12, “Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.” And a reminder of God’s grace when we mess up. When I told my son he smiled and said, “At least it wasn’t in the fridge.” I laughed. And quoted a children’s story I read to him years ago. “And that is what you should not do. So let that be a lesson to you.”

Want to read more from Phil?

2 min read

Top Three Headshakers

Lessons learned from crooks gone wild I’ve engaged in some ill-advised activities through the years. Chewed tobacco, thinking, this will…

3 min read

Back in the picture

How grace can change a life When the preacher William Willimon was ten he faithfully attended church membership class each…

3 min read

Life and the 3 Little Pigs

I am an extremely young grandpa. I’m still able to outrun and outjump the grandkids. It helps, that they are…