The plan was to drive to Texas from North Carolina. I had just gotten four new tires and an oil change, so my car, although almost twenty years old, was in great shape to make the trip. If nothing else, I’ve always kept auto maintenance as a priority. If properly cared-for, even a car with 140,000 miles on it can do the job. The reason to drive instead of fly is because I am visiting some far-flung places while in Texas: Paris, Dallas, Abilene, Austin, and people who live within 2 hours of each of those places.
I spent the night in Memphis, which is a good halfway place on the fourteen hour trip between Asheville and Dallas. I intended to get an early start to avoid the morning rush hour in Little Rock, but got off much earlier than intended. A drunk in a room near mine slammed his door four times at 1:45 in the morning, and woke me up. I tried, but couldn’t get back to sleep after that. So I hit the road at about 3:30.
A little over an hour later in The Middle of Nowhere, Arkansas, my engine light came on, and I saw that the temperature was up in the red. Immediately, I pulled over and shut the engine off. After sitting for about half an hour, I wondered if I could make it to the nearest gas station (eleven miles up the road) on the four bottle of water I had with me in the car. So I got out and tried to open the hood, but I just couldn’t find the hood latch. I even checked the manual to be sure that I was looking for it in the right place. So I had no choice but to call for a tow truck. The State Police Dispatcher sent one that arrived a little over half an hour later.
He towed the car to a garage that he said would probably be able to get me back on the road the fastest. Then he dropped me at McDonald’s, about a mile away, so that I could wait in a warm place for the garage to open up. He even offered to have Sheila, the office manager of the garage, pick me up on her way in to work, but since it was only a mile up the road, I decided to walk it.
Now, this whole time, I didn’t get upset, but I did pray. And one thing that I was convinced about is that God has a higher purpose for this little adventure. So I kept my eyes open. Soon after she arrived to work, Sheila told me that Freddie, the tow truck driver, had been battling cancer. She said, “Even with chemo and radiation treatments, Freddie only missed work for two days.” So I started praying for him.
It was clear from the prayer plaques in her office that she was a Christian. I told her that I would keep Freddie in prayer. She responded, “That’s good! Please keep me in prayer, too. I just lost my husband in September. He died of cancer.” So I promised to pray for her, too.
Like Freddie, Sheila also did something extra for me: instead of having the auto parts store send over a new radiator, she told me to go buy one (just a block away). “That way if something goes wrong with the part, you can take it to any of their stores nationwide for replacement.”
As I was walking back to the garage with my new radiator under my arm I thought, “You know, this is just like God to have good people like Freddie and Sheila take care of me.”
My car was ready and road tested before noon. It had cost far less that I had thought it was going to. And in the end, I missed Little Rock’s morning rush hour and managed to get to Paris before dark. God is good!
P.S. Wanna hear something strange? Just before the engine light went on I passed a man walking on the highway. At least I had thought he was a man at the time. All I could really see of him was a pair of khaki cargo pants. The rest of him was impossible to see in the dark. Now this was miles and miles from anywhere, and he was walking toward the oncoming traffic at the edge of the westbound lane of Interstate 40 in the inky-black darkness of about 4:45 AM. What would a person be doing out at that hour in such a remote area? Then minutes later, I’m stuck on the side of the road. I don’t think he was human. I think he had something to do with the radiator bursting just when and where it did.
The defeated enemy didn’t want me to make it to Texas, and he knows that if I get all bent out of shape, worrying and fussing about the situation, then he has the opportunity to derail my plans for going to Texas. But it didn’t work the way he wanted. And every time that I refuse to give in to anger, fear, or worry, my faith gets stronger and stronger. Come to think of it, I should probably send him a “thank you” card. God is good, and I’m getting better at remembering it!