“Babygirl!” “Babygirl!”” “That don’t go in there! What you trying to do?” The man’s name was James, he is a retired army mp who now works at 7-11, and two weeks ago he stopped me from putting oil in my radiator. He got the oil where oil goes and diagnosed the cause of my car overheating, a broken water pump. This kind stranger worked with my overheated car for a good while and got it running well enough to get to a relative’s house. They in turn patched it up enough to get it to the shop.
Got my car back from the shop just in time for my kids to go on a church youth group trip to Lake Anna. Last time we went to the lake, a kind stranger named Marty opened his shop for an afternoon to repair my wipers on a rainy day. No adventures going down this time. We enjoyed the sweet hospitality of church family. The kids swam and boated and tubed and water skiied. We ate amazing food. I couldn’t have given them a weekend like that on my “saving for a new vehicle” budget, but thanks to the kindness of others, their summer ended on a definite high note, with stories they are still bubbling to tell.
The car started running a little funny on our way home from the lake. Enough so that we decided to take 11 rather than 81, knowing that we were more likely to get help, if we needed it, in one of the small towns we were passing through than on the side of 81. Somewhere after Buchanan, the road forked and we took the wrong side, winding up on 81 despite our best intentions. We hadn’t gone very far before the engine seized, leaving us in a ditch at the side of the highway.
We called a tow truck and my husband to come meet us. For future reference, a call to #77 will bring a state trooper to wherever you break down. They will call the nearest tow truck and wait with you until they arrive. I did not know about that, so a half hour later, it was dark, I couldn’t get the car started, and the battery was running low. My headlights and flashers began to dim, and the children became increasingly frightened as 18 wheelers whizzed by on the highway.
Before the lights went out completely, our tow truck arrived. It wasn’t the one we called. This shop owner had switched jobs with the guy we called, because he overshot the exit he was supposed to find his tow on. This was the first providence, as this particular tow truck had a large enough cab to fit all of the kids. The next providence was that this man’s shop was 20 miles closer to home, which was helpful as Shane was meeting us.
The final providence was this: that Wayne was a father of four who loved Jesus and understood kids. He got the car functioning well enough to drive out of the ditch and the kids safely situated in his cab in no time. He chatted with us over the course of the ride to his shop, listening to the kids’ stories from their weekend and sharing with us a miraculous testimony of God’s faithfulness in his own life, and in the lives of his children.
As I think about the beauty of nature that I saw this weekend, the wonderful rest, and the kindness of Christ reflected in human forms, that old children’s hymn about it being “My Father’s World” comes to mind. Despite the impression we get on the evening news, as long as His own children remain in the earth, it is a place of beauty and even kindness.