Inconvenience or Intervention?
“The steps of the righteous are ordered by the Lord.”
Sometimes what appears to be an irritating inconvenience just might be the Hand of the Lord intervening in your life. I’m going to tell the whole story, so you can appreciate the outcome. So, if you are not mechanically inclined – don’t get bored; stick with me because I do have a point.
I travel a lot.
I always pray when I travel. I pray for safety of course, and I pray for my vehicle, asking the Lord to keep it running. I do this especially when I’m traveling in an older vehicle like a certain RV who shall remain nameless, or in my classic Chevy S10. This morning was no exception as I pulled out of my driveway in Vermont at 3:00 a.m. and headed south. I worshipped the Lord as I headed down into Massachusetts, singing some of my favorite worship songs. I prayed for my family, for my wife, and for others I pray for regularly. I prayed for God’s Hand to be upon my ministry as I visit several churches and friends all the way to Florida over the next couple of weeks.
I also have to pray about my attitude while driving on a long trip, because I am so prone to getting irritated with drivers who do foolish things, putting me and others at risk, and of course, I don’t relish sitting beside the road in a broken down vehicle. My classic S10 ran beautifully all the way from Vermont to Scranton, Pennsylvania. It had just started to rain as I made the transition from Interstate 84 to Interstate 81 and headed south. It was then that I heard a new and troubling sound coming from the engine; one that I had not heard before. I remember thinking, “What on earth could that be?” Since I needed to get fuel anyway, I pulled off the ramp where there was a auto service center and fueled up. I checked the oil, coolant, and transmission fluid and looked the engine over pretty carefully and could find nothing that looked suspicious. I started the engine and the sound had disappeared. Good. Hood down, back on the road.
However, just as I pulled back onto the highway heading south, that sound reappeared. It was a low level grinding sound and I was afraid I might be losing the transmission. However, it shifted fine. I had gone only a few miles when I heard a “thump” and the grinding sound went away. The engine sounded perfect, but as I looked down at the instrument panel, I saw that all of my gauges had stopped working, and the electrical system was no longer charging.
“Great,” I thought, “Here I am in the middle of nowhere, in a driving rainstorm and my serpentine belt is gone with no spare.” Almost immediately, that complaining spirit began to rise up in me, and I had to push it down again. When I use the word “fortunately,” I never mean lucky. I always say it in the context of “the steps of the righteous are ordered by the Lord.” Fortunately, I was within a quarter mile of an exit so I could at least get off the highway. I pulled into the parking lot of the 901 BBQ Restaurant, repeating to myself as I muscled the truck into the parking lot (no power steering): “All things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purposes.” I got out and lifted the hood, to see the serpentine belt wrapped up in the fan, but completely intact. It hadn’t broken, it just came off. Looking more closely, I noticed the pulley on my alternator was hanging at an awkward angle and I realized that the bearings in the alternator pulley had given way and as a result the belt came off. I got back in the truck and with rain battering the windshield and roof in that deserted parking lot, I said to myself, (or to the Lord, I’m not really sure): “This good had better be good because right now its not looking very good.”
I dug out my AAA card and called them. The nice young lady assured me that she would have a tow truck to me within an hour. When she said that, I pulled my pillow up to the seat and turned it against the passenger door, because I knew it wasn’t going to be within the hour. I leaned up against the door and stretched my legs out as I Googled “auto repair shops.” The first one that came up was just over 5 miles away. I called the number and ask if they thought they could get an alternator and install it for me if I had the tow service bring me there. His reply, “I’ll see if I can get it in, IF I can find an alternator for it.”
I had a very nice nap while I waited for my tow – almost two hours. Finally, the tow guy pulled in the yard, hooked up the pickup while I sat in the cab of his truck. He drove me to W H Auto Repair in Ashland, population 3000. Tucked in a narrow alleyway, off the main drag we found the shop. I was met at the door by a pleasant fellow by the name of Warren as I asked him where he wanted to truck.
“Drop it right there, I’ve kept a bay open for you. We’ll bring it right in.” Surely enough, within a couple of minutes the tow truck pulled away and Warren drove my little S10 into the bay. He had ordered the new alternator and belt ahead of my arrival and they sat there on the floor beside his corner desk. He popped open the hood as he said, “I LOVE Chevy S10’s! I’ve owned a lot of them” Long story shortened just a little bit, I was in and out of that garage in 30 minutes or less. I paid my bill, which was very reasonable given the circumstances and was on my way back to the Interstate to continue my trip south.
I had not been on the road more than a few minutes when I came upon the scene of a horrific accident. Flashing lights slowed traffic to a crawl as police cruisers, fire trucks, and rescue personnel had converged on the scene. Wrecked cars were all over the road. One sedan had gone end over end into the rock ledge along the road. It was crushed beyond identifying. Body bags were being loaded into ambulances – it was horrible. As I slid past one of the volunteer firemen who was directing the flow of traffic, I rolled down my window and asked, “When did this happen?”
He replied, “We got the call a couple hours ago – pretty bad……pretty bad.”
I looked in my rear view mirror as I drove away thinking, “Lord I could have been right in the middle of that tragic mess if You had not had me sitting safely beside the highway with a broken alternator.” I also remembered having to force my lips to recite that scripture, “All things work together for good to them that love God.”
Of course, I don’t KNOW that I would have been involved in that tragedy. But what I do know is that I was NOT involved in that horrible scene and I bless God for it. You know, we are quick to “bless the Lord” when his blessings are readily available, and if you’re like me, pretty quick to complain to the Lord if we feel we’re being inconvenienced. I wonder how many times He blesses us, protects us, rescues us; how many times does He spread His wings over us to shelter us from danger. How many times does he let an alternator snap in time to get us off the road to safety as we sit and complain about our momentary inconvenience.
You are never out of His sight.
You are never out of His hearing.
You are never in a place where His hand cannot reach you.
“Bless the Lord O my Soul, and all that is within me, bless His Holy Name!”