“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
I know it has been a long time since I have updated. That does not mean that God has not been active in my life. He has been very active.
Did you know that sometimes when you are going through an irritating and frustrating and stressful time that God uses the circumstances of your inconvenience and aggravation to reach out to others?
This is something that I probably realized on a “in the back of my mind” kind of basis until lately.
I have had a couple of really stressful things that have happened.
Back in August I went down to visit my parents in N.C. Now, my friend and I had driven all night long and I arrived at about 8am at their place having stopped at McDonald’s and picked up breakfast for them. This was a surprise visit. I walked into their home and woke them up with “Breakfast is here, time to get up!” They both were thrilled and very surprised. That was quite fun. They had a flood the previous year, and I went down hoping to help get a few things done for them that I could not do from 4 States away.
Well, around dusk, we drove to Jacksonville by way of Richlands..specifically Gum Branch Road. Now, I was driving Dad’s car, which I was unfamiliar with. I am not a speedy driver. I, long ago, figured out that it just isn’t worth it. However, the second we turned on Gum Branch Rd. my Dad started nagging me to “be sure you don’t speed…they will get you here for it!” I kept assuring him that I was watching it and was not speeding. Well those jokers that pass for officers there had a speed trap. You can look this up to see what I mean on the Onslow County N.C. DOT maps. The road had a change of speed limit virtually every quarter mile from 35 to 45 to 55 then back to 45 then back to 35. Any how I passed the 45 mph sign and accelerated, but the vehicle jumped to 48. It has a very light gas pedal response. Our Durango required a much larger amount of pressure to move from 35 to 45. Unfortunately, for me, there was a police car sitting there like a vulture waiting for the next road kill. He pulled me over and then proceeded to write a ticket for 50 in a 35….which we all 4 of us in the car told him that the sign right behind us about 500 ft said 45 mph very clearly so I was only 3 mph over the speed limit. He wasn’t backing down, and it just didn’t seem worth it (given the news reports lately) to risk walking him back to the sign and forcing him to see his error. Especially when I was pretty sure he was well aware of what the sign had on it speed wise. So I got a ticket, then we turned around and took pics of the sign and the street sign. I told my parents that I had not received a ticket for speeding in 17 yrs…this was said before I got the ticket. (You know that nasty Devil, Satan is always looking for things to aggravate you with!) I was actually pretty calm about it and told my parents that the guy would not expect me to come down and fight it so I would just come back for the court date in a month or so and defend myself. Now you are probably saying, that crazy woman…she should have just paid the ticket! You are certainly correct, this turned out to be the most expensive ticket I have ever had. The rest of that visit was relatively uneventful…at least it has nothing to add to the point of this post.
I went back down in Sept. for the court date, the drive down was uneventful. However, the visit was very stressful on many accounts, some of which I won’t share. Suffice it to say, that due to a problem with the room I normally used I ended up on an air mattress in another room. Our Durango which is 17 years old ended up dying at a light on the way to the court house on the court date. It simply shut off. I managed to start it back up and get through the light, but it shut off again. I was on a 4 lane highway which had no pull off lane so I was broken down in a lane. (Now I want to clarify that this 17 yr old vehicle has been kept in tip top shape maintenance-wise for its entire life…that is how we can get 17 yrs out of it..it is not some unmaintained heap..so I was really very shocked at this break down.) The timing of which I certainly do attribute to being bedeviled! Anyway, an officer stopped and he and another fellow pushed the vehicle across 4 lanes of traffic and into the conveniently located gas station. I thought it sounded like it had water in the gas. I called AAA after purchasing a little gas can and adding some gas did not clear the problem. I was frantic about missing the court date….the officer was able to give me the Prosecutor’s # so that I could call them and tell them why I was not there. They let me know that I had 20 more days to clear it up and could go to court as an add-on the following Monday. That meant I had to stay an additional 3 days. I was severely unhappy about that, but nothing I could do about it.
So, we (my daughter and I) were towed over to an auto repair shop. This proceeded to be a very long day, and at the end of the day the vehicle was still not repaired. The bill was up to about $900. The vehicle had a new fuel pump, which being located inside the gas tank meant it needed a new gas tank due to the age and rust around the rim down there…this also gave it a new fuel filter which is located inside the pump….each time they told me what they thought was wrong and I (not being completely ignorant of vehicles) said, okay, fix it. Finally, they put in a new fuel injector and got the thing running, but the sound was simply awful. The folks at the car repair place said that it sounded like it was something inside the engine and they could replace the engine for about $3k and 10 hours of labor, but other than having their specialist look at it on Monday their was nothing else they could do unless he came up with something. I actually stuck my hand down in the old fuel tank to check for grit and there was nothing.
At this point it was 5:40 pm and I realized after calling my parents all day long with no answer that I was going to need a rental car. The nice people at the car place got me the number for Enterprise…and do you know they refused to pick me up, although I was only about 2 minutes away from them? The woman said it was too close to closing time and she couldn’t do it. So much for their claim, right?!! It ended up that the salesman who had been helping us all day drove me over to the car rental and dropped me off. I rented a vehicle, but then couldn’t figure out how to find the car place. I called my daughter, and she said, “well, I don’t know how to get you back here.” (This is how tired both of us were, that she wouldn’t realize what I wanted her to do). I told her to put the people on at the place and they could guide me back.
So they did. I got back over there and we went back to my parents it was around 7 pm at this point and Jessie and I decided that we would drive through McDonalds and get our dinner. When we got back to my parents at 7:30pm the first thing we heard was, “Did you bring us something?” I explained that since it was 7:30pm we felt sure that all of them would have already eaten…and I apologized. Then explained how my day had gone. Suffice it to say, that despite the fact that God was with me all the way that day, it was a very tough and tiring day. I shed some tears for sure, and was very stressed. God even spent some effort to remind me that he was with me in the form of having two Bible’s lying in the waiting room of the car place for me to pick up and spend time with him. Which I did, and it helped me a lot to be reading about God’s care for me. (Thank you Gideon’s for the use and placement of the Bibles you put out.)
So it went that I was “stuck” (for want of a better word, as my plan was to leave on Friday after court) at my parents for the weekend or longer. I called my husband, to tell him all that had happened…he went to work looking for an engine shop, they were all closed on the weekend, naturally…it is the country side. My husband is the greatest guy on the earth, in case I have not mentioned this before.
Now there was an even more pressing problem than the car, my daughter, Jessie had to be back in our State and at work on Monday. Good thing for me that my brother, Les was coming down to visit our parents for the weekend. He agreed to drive her back with him. So God arranged transport back for her. I was relieved on the one hand, but on the other, I really hated the idea of making the drive home all by myself. Oh well, nothing to be done about that.
So, anyway, I had a chance to spend time with my brother, and his girlfriend, and her daughter that I would not have had if I had gone home on Friday. He didn’t arrive until Sat. morning. We ended up going to the beach on Sat. afternoon. I really love the Ocean, but rarely have an opportunity to go to one. It was a very peaceful interlude in a very chaotic visit. Now the next day, I was able to spend time talking with someone about their relationship with God. If I had not been there for the weekend this opportunity would not have presented itself at all. It was only a short talk, but it was very meaningful…as the person is really having some issues in their life and had been admittedly distant from God.
After my brother went home, I spent some time with my nephew and we spent time talking about God also. I have spoken to him before, but this time I was able to share a little more clearly who God is to me.
During this trip I was also able to make peace with my youngest brother…this was something that I had been desiring, and didn’t really understand why we were on the outs in the first place. I was glad that we were able to make up, though…I dislike being at odds with anyone, it breaks my heart…and is not God’s will either.
Matthew 5:23-24 23 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift. (NIV)
I ended up driving the rental car home and leaving the Durango there…it was later towed home, after having been towed to a dealership who didn’t do anything but cost more money and still didn’t diagnose anything. We got it home and after our vacation we tore into it and found that it had thrown a rod. We are in the process of putting a new engine in it. I never told you the outcome of that, but I paid the court costs of $218, and got the $30 fine dismissed. So fighting this ticket cost way more than that…an extended visit, rental car, towing home, new engine, and various parts…oh and AAA made me pay to tow the vehicle to dealership as they only allow one tow per breakdown….isn’t that hysterical?
As you can see the cost of fighting that ticket was very expensive. Way beyond the cost of the ticket. However, even in the midst of all that stress and chaos God was at work in my life helping to sustain me through it, and using me to share who he is with others around me. Now lest you think, I was all calm and happy during this event, I want to surely dispel that idea….I was able to persevere, but I cannot say that I was feeling all warm and fuzzy and I did not always have the best attitude, either…I am sad to admit that, but honesty demands it….I don’t want to paint an inaccurate picture of myself. Even when I am not at my best, God takes care me and is able to use me for his will. I find that to be immensely comforting and humbling at the same time.
I have had a couple more occasions where things have gone awry and God used that time in the midst of stress to allow for connection with people dear to me to talk about God and share who he is with them in a more intimate way than ever before. I feel very blessed at this realization of God using me being brought to the front of my mind in a clearer understanding of how God works…instead of remaining in the back as just a vague thought.
“Cast all your anxiety on Him because he cares for you.”1 Peter 5:7