When everyone started posting their daily thankful lists, I felt guilty because I was too busy to participate.
Why is it that the unexpected always happens during weeks when my schedule’s so tight the overlapped seams have no wiggle room?
Yesterday, as I dashed out the door to teach a corporate Excel class on a college campus a 30 minute drive from my home, I accidentally grabbed my husband’s phone instead of my own – and didn’t realize it until I got to the college. Fine – I was teaching for the afternoon and had no time to text.
After the class ended (and it was after dark), a battery light lit on my dashboard. When I looked in the manual, it said it could be the alternator. Great. I talked to Richard and decided to chance driving home – we’ve dealt with dying alternators before. My concern was getting home in the dark, when I had to use headlights. I had a choice of driving through town with stoplights or along country highways, and I opted for the highways with fewer stops.
Halfway down that lone stretch of highway, the check engine light came on. I was out of state, in the middle of nowhere, and even though the lights were on, the car seemed to be driving okay. It only started getting tough when I got in town, in the land of stop lights.
There were a few popping noises, but they stopped, and the car ran fine so long as I didn’t stop; at each red light, I kept one foot on the gas and one on the brake, praying my way home. At times, I put Richard on speaker phone and talked to him about updates and where I was.
Normally, had I had my own phone, I would have spent the entire trip home phoning a friend. But their numbers were all on speed dial, on my phone. In Indiana. So I prayed and drove and rejoiced when I arrived in Evansville and saw an Auto Zone on Covert. It was closer than where I planned to go.
When I pulled in, they agreed to check it. The car died, and they had to jump it to test it; the alternator was going out. They couldn’t install one and I quickly called the Pep Boys to see if they could install a replacement. Pep Boys was 5 miles away, an 11 minute drive. I hoped to avoid a tow charge and could tell the car was struggling harder. I thought it was going to die again when I put it into reverse to leave the store.
Richard pulled up, and I yelled at him where we were going and zoomed out of the parking lot.
When I drive, I seek ways to get places the quickest way possible and have been known to grab side roads to shave seconds off my destination time. Last night, that experience prepared me for finding a fast way to the store, in the dark, avoiding as many stop signs and stop lights as possible.
As I started and the engine sputtered, I didn’t know if the car would get the entire way there. Richard was driving behind me.
What to do? It wasn’t easy to phone a friend, so I decided to pray one. I have pretty colorful chats with Jesus on a regular basis.
Then I remembered that we give thanks in all circumstances. Next week is Thanksgiving. So as I drove, I began thanking God for the many blessings – even that the car hadn’t broken down the weekend before when we were in two different cities on three different days. It waited until after my class so I could earn money.
The car’s sputtering continued. My prayers often turn into song, so I began “Amazing Grace.” Even singing the verses I knew, there were more miles to go before we got to Pep Boys. So I went to old hymns, with Alleluias galore.
I wasn’t exactly sure where the Pep Boys was and stumbled a little when I got close. So I asked my guardian angel to show me the way – I had no idea which roads to turn onto and couldn’t afford to make a mistake.
By the grace of God, the car made it to Pep Boys.
It turns out the problem was a little more complicated than just an alternator.
But in this circumstance, I can give thanks that it kept going to the garage, kept going while I was driving in the dark on lonely out-of-state highways, and it happened at a time when we could get it fixed.
Even though I didn’t do the daily thankful posts, I can still appreciate God’s work in my life and thank him for showing me how to make lemonade when the occasional lemon gets thrown in my path.