Monday, August 25, 2014

A long and winding road...and a tow rope

Breakdowns are the worst.

They are especially gnarly when they happen on one of major interstates that runs through the Central US.

The particular bit of highway you see is halfway between Springfield and Joplin, Missouri.

A bit of background is needed.

Every weekend my little family and I load of the car and head to our gig as Associate Pastors for a little church outside of Joplin.  My Dad pastors the church and for the past few years we have been making the commute.

Sometimes we go on Saturdays. I do laundry, make apple pie, visit with my Mom and eat the apple pie. Most likely in that order.

Occasionally, we leave early on Sunday mornings and head straight to the church.

This is precisely what we did this weekend.

We are blessed in that we have two cars. My car (Bertha the Buick) has 130,000 miles. No heat and hair. The Studly Muffin's car (Fred the Ford) was a generous gift to us several years ago. It has almost 350,000 miles and no air.

There are worse things that not having an air conditioned car during a heat wave.

Right off hand I can only think of a few.

The temps have been almost 100 degrees here in the Ozarks.Yesterday morning we were anxious to beat the heat. We hoped in Fred the Ford and headed down I44. We were in our Sunday clothes and ready for the day.

Then it happened. Fred the Ford stopped working.

Don't ask me to diagnose Fred the Ford's condition. I only know how to pump gas.

So here we were. 30 minutes from our home (and other car). 30 minutes from our church.

I don't know about you, but our road side assistance generally comes in the form of friends and relatives.

We started calling.

Nobody picked up.

We called again.

Nobody picked up.

We finally got in touch with a lady from our church. My Dad generally shows up at the church early. She told us she would let Dad know as soon as he got there.

Troy remembered that one of his buddies lived about 10 minutes away. Unfortunately, that buddy was visiting another town and he was about 2 hours from us. However, he reminded Troy that another buddy lived about 20 minutes from where we were.

Yay! That buddy told us that he would be there ASAP with a tow rope.Thank goodness for buddy's who have tow ropes!

About the time we could see the buddy coming down the road my mom called. My Dad was on his way. He was coming (using our sweet church lady's car) from the other direction. Except he didn't have his phone and he wasn't quite sure where we were.

That's my Daddy!

Eventually, all of our help arrived. Dad used his freaky navigational superpowers (I have to admit I have a bit of those too). We agreed (they agreed...I am helpless in such matters) that Troy's buddy would tow us up to the next exit and park the car. Dad would take us on to church. After church we would drive back to our car and Dad would tow us back to Springfield.

The tow rope was attached. Me and Josiah rode with Dad (in a nicely air conditioned car, I might add) and we headed out. We were right behind Fred the Ford and his towing buddy.

Then things started to go wrong. Troy had put the car in neutral and released the parking break. But he hadn't turned the ignition. He didn't have any steering.

Right before my eyes I saw his car drift across the road towards the median. Semi trucks were barreling down behind us. One barely missed him.

It happened so quickly. I think I swallowed my heart. His friend had the presence of mind  to swing Fred the Ford back to higher ground, but there for a few minutes on the highway we had created a bit of a mess.Bless those other folks on the road.

I can't even begin to think how it could have turned out so differently. Just seconds separated Troy and the Ford from disaster. We eventually got back on the road again (this time with the ignition switched on).

Our reception as church was like a little homecoming. Those sweet people greeted us like conquering heroes. They had been praying for us (can you imagine that?)! They couldn't have know it at the time, but I think their prayers touched that little spot of highway.

When we eventually made it back to the car that afternoon it was hot. They attached to the tow rope again to Fred the Ford and this time we took the back roads home.

Oh my friends. Anybody ever driven through the back roads in Southwest Missouri? Here and hill there a hill. We have hills! And curves.

That was a long 30 miles. Our strange caravan stayed at a steady 35-40 miles an hour. By the time Fred the Ford was gently steered into a parking spot closer to home Troy was drenched through and his muscles tight and cramped with the exertion of guiding an unruly car.

This most likely won't be the last breakdown we ever experience. The Muffin just remarked that he needed to give Bertha the Buick a good look over...she is going to be working double duty for a while. Fred the Ford's fate remains unknown. He has been a faithful little car. Though our last highway car mishap also happened with Fred. There was the time he blew a tire on a family vacation and we had to drive 100 miles on a donut.

In the meantime, I am thankful praying friends and family. For those who don't mind giving up their Sunday mornings to tow us around the hills and hollers. I am thankful for protection and that God has it all worked out.

Life is o so fragile. I have had my own near death experiences. The grass looks a little greener than it did. The tomatoes taste a little sweeter. The hugs a little stronger. We can never know what a turn of events might bring. I am just thankful for God's unfailing faithfulness. No matter what...

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