Wednesday I left work at 1:30 to head to a 2:00 appointment with the school guidance counselor and my high school senior about college stuff (Yikes! Not already!). As I walked around the back of my car, I noticed that my tire was flat. Rim-on-the-ground, not-getting-to-a-gas-station flat. I did what any competent, self-respecting adult female would do - - I called my husband.
"I'll just change it myself." I said to him (we'd had a car with chronic tire problems, so I have changed a few of them).
"No," he said, picturing me in office attire with heels and knit gloves crawling around on the ground on a 32 degree day. "Call the number on the back of the insurance card."
As soon as the arrangements were made, I called the school to let them know I would be missing the appointment. They patched me through to the guidance counselor who informed me that my son was already in her office and we could do the meeting over the phone. Oh, OK!
I turned on the car and warmed up my frozen toes as we talked. Forty-five minutes later, assistance arrived and I watched as my rescuers struggled to get my Suburban to release the spare tire which is mounted on the underside of the vehicle where all of the salt used to make winter travel more safe here in the Great White North had managed to seize up the mechanism. After another forty minutes of struggling, now with frozen fingers and a bent screw driver, he gave up.
"You will have to call a tow truck," he said. "When you call the insurance company back, they will probably send me. It will take me 45 minutes to get back to the shop to get the tow truck, and another 45 minutes to get back." he explained as he described how insurance-initiated assistance works. I decided to call a closer place though it was not on the insurance list, knowing that I would have to pay the fee myself and wait for reimbursement from the insurance company.
"We are so busy with tires that we will be working until 8:00 tonight, but I will call my dad. He used to own this company, and retired 14 years ago." the local guy said. An hour later a delightful older gentleman arrived. "Where do you want to go?" he asked. "I can take you home or where ever you want."
I had been to my local mechanic for an oil change the day before and had mentioned that my husband wanted new tires on the Suburban. The mechanic looked at them and said that Hubby was right - he wouldn't haul kids around with those tires through the winter, either. "Everyone wants their tires done right now because bad weather is coming this week, but I can do it Monday." he had said, and he ordered the tires right then.
I named the mechanic's shop and said, "Bring me there. I have an appointment with him for tires on Monday, but he said that he might be able to do it as early as Friday afternoon."
I called the mechanic to let him know that we were coming, and he informed me that my tires had already arrived! He would bump another project and do it first thing in the morning. "I take good care of my regulars." he explained.
I told my husband where I was, and asked him to pick me up on the way home. FIVE HOURS after discovering the flat tire, I finally arrived at home.
A while ago my Aunt told me that people stop praying because we think that God is not answering our prayers. I had been feeling that way because I don't see anything happening on my one big prayer (a story for another day). A few weeks ago, I decided that it was time to get out my One Thousand Gifts notebook again, and document the small ways that I can see God working in my life. It is an amazing discipline - it opens your eyes!
All through this inconvenient ordeal, I could see God:
219. The roadside assistance dispatcher asking first if I was in a safe place - yes! Yes I was.
220. I did not have to miss the school meeting.
221. I could not have changed that tire if I had tried!
222. A kind man called out of retirement just to help little me.
223. New tires already ordered, in, and ready to be put on.
224. The mechanic doing it the very next day - a day in which I had no where to go.
225. Proper tires JUST before the first snow of the season.
226. Being able to see, even while I was in the midst of the awkward situation, that this was God's will for me today.
As I went to pick up my newly-tired vehicle Thursday evening, Family Talk was on the radio and I heard the testimony of Bobbie Wolgemuth's struggle with cancer. "Our Joy is on trial" she had said to her husband when she got the diagnosis. She understood that trials are sent for a purpose in our lives - and people watch how we respond to them.
A flat tire pales in comparison to stage four ovarian cancer, yet the principle is still the same: when we go through challenges in life, the way we respond to them shows people what we REALLY believe. If we have been even the slightest bit open about our faith, we are being watched. Our audience is wondering if Christ really makes a difference in our lives, or if it is just a bunch of empty words.
I passed this test, but how I wish that I would pass all of them with my joy intact!
What challenges have you been facing lately, and how has it caused you to grow? Feel free to comment on your Joy being on Trial.