Traveling south on a very busy highway. There is so much traffic that people are bumper to bumper in stop and go traffic. You’ve been traveling about 10 hours already and you are beginning to get tired. It’s about 85 degrees outside and suddenly your car completely loses power and you pull over to the side of the road. You try to restart the engine and it doesn’t turn over. You get out, lift the hood and look at it as if you know what you are looking for. Traffic beside you speeds up and slows down, each traveler looking at you with those eyes. Those looks, they bother you, “why me? why now?” You get back in the car and with a big sigh you begin to google towing service on your phone.
Yes. You are that car! The one that everybody looks at with pity and is so glad not to be them.
A few weeks ago that was me.
Well, almost. When we lifted the hood of the car I didn’t know what I was looking at but my husband did. But this did happen to us. We were on our way to take a little spring time break with our son when we ran into engine trouble. We had a few more hours to go until our destination when the car basically said, “No More!” My husband is a car guy so I wasn’t really worried but when he wasn’t sure what was going on I braced myself for the fact that this may interfere with the count down to our ocean view.
We called the tow truck when magically the car started up. We were not going to miss the chance to move forward in this hot traffic so we jumped back into the moving lane. Our tow truck sped past us on the shoulder. There goes our last chance for help. I thought as he whizzed by. Being a smart guy my husband thought it was one of two things. The first was relatively simple to correct. Some high grade gas and an additive and we should be ok. Or it could be something bigger, much worse and considerably more expensive to fix. I hoped for the first option!
I did not want this to happen again. Nothing like traveling on a busy highway in bumper to bumper traffic with fellow sojourners who are determined, maybe aggressively so to reach their own little vacation spot. It’s every man for himself under these conditions! They feel your pain when you are on the right side of the road but not enough to delay their e.t.a. When things break in life you instantly feel the squeeze of being alone, even when surrounded by hundreds. It’s their passing by that stings.
Long story short, our car problem was the second of the two scenarios. Ouch!
Our car stopped 6 more times in our journey. Traveling 65 mph and all of the sudden we’d lose power to the car. Carefully maneuvering ourselves over to the shoulder to be “that car” we’d open the hood for 5 to 10 minutes just to let the car breathe and start the ride of faith all over again. We were close to our final destination and now had an appointment with the car doctor in a mere 24 hours, the earliest appointment time they had.
Crossing major bridges over all the waterways that Florida so graciously provides for our transportation now became a test of courage as there were no shoulders to pull over if the car stopped. And yes, there were the kind of bridges where we had to ride up before we came down. I was sweating a few times. There were several stretches along the way that were filled with orange barrels to narrow roads due to construction. Riding in a single lane between concrete dividers with a steady stream of hungry vacation goers became a game of chicken for us.
Could we make it? Would we dash the dream of fellow travelers behind us just wanting to put their toes in the sand? Would the schedule ridden truck drivers eat us for lunch if we caused traffic to come to a complete halt because we risked driving on a one lane, no wiggle room road? We had no way of knowing. The only thing we did know is that we had to go. We had to move forward for as many miles as the hurting car would allow. Help was miles ahead at the car dealer and that was our only way to fix this problem.
Never knowing when or where the car would break down we prayed and moved, prayed and moved. On the fourth time re-entering traffic from the right side of the road I realized something.
This is what faith is all about.
Praying and moving, praying and moving. Not really knowing how, when or where things may change but believing that moving forward is the better option than staying on the side of the road.
I have to tell you I was so grateful when we finally got to our destination safely. I’m not going to lie. It was kind of scary at times not knowing when we would be “free rolling”. But looking back on it, every time the power did go out we had a safe place to stop. The minutes we had to wait until the engine was ready to go a little farther attuned our senses to the reality of our needy condition. These kinds of things in life bend the knee to pray. When we see our vulnerability we lean on God-ability.
So maybe the car problem was a blessing in disguise? An invitation from God for us to come and see Him in a really cool way? Like He was calling a meeting to address fear and uncertainty in real time?
I am still learning to accept the big repair bill as a gift. I’m not there yet but if I gained anything from this ill-fated car journey is that I know when I prayed and moved, prayed and moved, my faith was met by something mysterious. God moving on our behalf. I can’t explain it, I can’t understand all of it and I can’t deny it.
You could say God was our road side assistance.