The Broken Down Blessing

There was a time when my van breaking down while running errands would have really stressed me out. When the smell of electrical wires burning, and the odd hum under the hood, would’ve sent me spinning. When having to interrupt my husband’s late work night to come rescue me would’ve agitated me. When having to call on help for a ride for my kids, AND that I had to ask their friend and classmate giving them the ride to finish running a very important errand for me, would have turned my stomach in fear I was bothering her. When, in calling the destination of my errand, my voice would’ve cracked from bad nerves suffocating it that I was inconveniencing him with my tardiness.

When the sheer thought of being stuck for 3 hours would’ve made me anxious beyond measure. And when the rain came on cue, I would’ve said, “Well it figures!” and thrown up my hands in defeat. When having to call and tell the committee that I was going to miss our monthly meeting because I was stranded would’ve made me just plain mad…not to mention sour over missing the gelato they were going to enjoy. When sitting in my van, helpless, watching cars go by, I would’ve been frantic that I had less than 10% cell phone battery and my kids needed directions at home regarding the dinner I made – and a reminder to begin their homework.

When, thinking about my friend, whose car was randomly shot at the other night, bullet hole in the driver’s door and all, while he sat at a red light, would’ve made me paranoid to sit with my broken vehicle. When having NOTHING to do for ALL that time would’ve made me crawl out of my skin! When watching 5 cars pull up next to me and total ignore my circumstance would’ve tickled my cynic’s ears and reaffirmed the thought that there is no good left in the world.

BUT, such was not the case tonight. God has brought me, by His grace, to a place where peace can be found in the most unexpected situations. This is the perspective He covered me in…

Thank goodness I was in the less trafficked, turn lane of the intersection so as to not disrupt rush hour for everyone one. Thankful God told me to stop at the light and turn off the engine when the strange smell crept into my van – followed by visible smoke rising from under the hood – even though I had one more important stop to make. Thankful that God let my husband leave when he did and avoid wet streets late at night, tired from a hard day’s work.

Thankful that my kids have generous friends who are willing to be very inconvenienced to help with a smile. Thankful all four teens got to finish my errand, which involved blessing a very special gentleman who is grieving the loss of his wife. It’s good for youth to help people younger and older than them. It’s good for them to help.

Thankful the rain kept the temperatures down because it would’ve been a real bummer if I was stuck in horrible heat. Thankful for some unexpected time to sit and be still. Just sit. And. Be. Still.

Thankful that I have friends I serve with who are flexible, loving and understand the crazy side of life as well as my absence from the meeting. Friends who offered a laugh, encouraging words, and camaraderie that reminded me I am not alone in this world – even if I sit alone in a broken down van. Pondering the wonderful lunch I had just hours earlier with a new friend, thoughts about our conversation over burritos brought a smile to my face as I contemplated the wise counsel she gave me.

Thankful that God knew how much cell battery I needed to communicate with my husband and children, and how just like the oil in the widow’s jar in the Old Testament didn’t run out when it was all she had, neither did my cell battery. And, even if it had, I trust Him to know my needs and take care of me in the creative, unique ways He does every day.

Thankful that I had already made dinner and had it completely ready when the kids came home, so very hungry, to an empty house. Thankful they had a house to come home to and food to eat. Thankful that, just as God protected my friend who was shot at, nothing can happen to me that hasn’t already been known to the Father. And, even if something bad did happen, it would have been worked into my life for good and His glory. There was a time I didn’t believe that. Couldn’t accept that. Wouldn’t accept that.

Thankful for unscheduled time to simply sit and watch a gorgeous sunset I would have otherwise missed. Literally. I would have been driving in the opposite direction of it if my van had not started smoldering. Instead, I got to watch clouds play chase against a pink and yellow backdrop of His expansive, eternal glory. Thankful that the 6th car did stop, and like the Good Samaritan, this sweet woman reassured my spirit that it only takes one person’s help to encourage and strengthen a weary heart.

Thankful for a sense of humor to laugh at the whole mess. Thankful I own a van to break down. Thankful that after owning it for 7 years, this is first problem we’ve ever had with it. Thankful for all of the unseen events that were thwarted that may not have been good for me had I stayed on task. Only God knows all of the whys that this had to happen tonight. It’s not my concern as to why, but I will bask in the goodness of Him because from where I’m sitting, the blessings outweigh the bad in this hiccup today.

Thankful my husband and I could laugh, in the dark and drizzling rain, that we had an unexpected date night. It wasn’t dinner and a movie – it was better. We had nothing to do while waiting for a tow than to talk. A full conversation can be elusive at times in this season of life, so I relished in the fact we got to finish our thoughts, discuss the day and simply enjoy being together.

Still, there is something really special about this night that makes me grateful the whole thing happened. The story really begins when the tow truck arrived…

tow truck

When the tow truck finally pulled around the corner, and my husband and I breathed a collective sigh of relief, it led to a divine conversation with the tow truck driver. It was late and we were tired and hungry, so I sat in my husband’s car while he helped orchestrate the towing with the driver. I texted the kids on my charging phone while I sat warm and safe in his car.

He, however, had the best conversation with the driver.

I’m not sure how the conversation began, but the driver told my husband that many years ago, he wanted to go to a church that had all of the bells and whistles of “entertainment.” Now that he is a husband and father, he “wants needs solid biblical teaching” regardless of the environment. My husband agreed that biblical teaching is the most important aspect and encouraged him in his quest to find a solid church home.

Then, the driver looked at my husband and asked, How do you do it? My kids are only 6 and 8, and yours are all teenagers. How do you continue to teach them God’s way when they are older and not have them resent or ignore you?

My husband replied, You have to make some things non-negotiable. For example, going to church on a regular basis.

The man was deeply searching for Truth. Answers. Help. Can I just say that I highly respect this man! Here he is, trying so hard to be a good father, he is open to receiving a good word of counsel – even from a stranger whose van he is towing. Wow, what would this country, this world, look like if dads and moms took their parenting responsibilities this seriously? I tip my hat to this man and know beyond a doubt God will honor his quest in godly parenting.

My husband saw the look of longing in the man’s eyes. A look of insecurity. A lack of self-confidence. He smiled at the man and said, Keep searching for a church home until God leads you to one, but mostly, live your faith. If your kids seeing you do what you want them to do – they’ll be alright.

They shook hands with hearty smiles, and the man repeatedly thanked my husband for his time to talk. The van was ready for the tow. Off went my second office to vehicle urgent care.

On the ride home, my husband told me about their conversation. I have to admit, I was really disappointed that I stayed in the comfort of his car and missed all the action. I asked God why things played out like they did because I wanted to add a few of my own thoughts to their conversation.

God clearly answered me. He told me that this conversation was not meant for me. In fact, He told me this whole evening wasn’t about me. It was for the tow truck driver.

Wow.

Everything I went through was to set up this man for a beautiful blessing. What would God have thought of me if I had pitched an ever-loving fit through this ordeal? Here He was positioning the driver and my husband for a divine appointment, and what if I had thrown a tantrum in my flesh? I can almost hear Him say, Can you just get over yourself and stop whining for a second? I’m trying to do something big here and you’re not helping! Instead, by God’s grace, He made the evening one of peace, joy and purpose.

I saw that my purpose was to step out of the way this time – even if it meant enduring the tense moments of a rigid timeline. There was a time when I would have seen that as not being fair to me. After all, I didn’t even get to be part of the ending – which was the real point to the night! But, because of God’s faithfulness to me, I was reminded that what’s a few hours of my time if someone else’s faith could be encouraged and strengthened? Really! I mean, this saga didn’t go on forever. It’s ancient history now. It was a momentary blip on life’s radar. I’m okay. The van is fixed. It’s all good. And, it was all completely worth it to hear an incredible story of a conversation that encouraged a man, we otherwise never would’ve met, in the great job he was doing as a dad. In fact, he encouraged me that there are men still seeking God’s wisdom for their families.

This was a tricky day with lots going on and many people were affected by my van breaking down. But, God met every need in His best way. This situation was meant to be a conduit of His love to someone who needed to know God is for this man and his family, and that his heart is the best witness to his children. So very cool.

The one thing I would’ve done differently as I look back at the day is that I would have gone to the bathroom before I left the house. Three hours is a long time to wait! EEK! Another lesson learned. 🙂

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