I was driving my husband’s recently purchased pick-up truck through a veritable monsoon between Jacksonville, Florida and Columbus, Georgia. I stopped at a McDonald’s in a little town called Dawson, Georgia. The pickings were slim and I needed three things: a fish sandwich, a restroom, and a safe parking lot where I could put my seat back and sleep for fifteen minutes. But when I tried to start the truck after that little nap, the starter wouldn’t even turn over. I had left the headlights on and my battery was dead.
My husband was in Texas that day recording some material for World Video Bible School, but I caught him via phone just before he began taping. He said my plan to cross that highway on foot and go in that O’Reilly’s and ask them to come and test the battery was a good plan. So I did. The bad news was that they did not have enough employees to spare one for my battery check. I had to turn right back around and cross that highway again, to no avail. “We’ll send somebody over when our courier gets back in a little while.”
So, of course, I crossed back over and did that thing that never helps very much….I worried. Once I got to Columbus, I still had to load and cover some furniture items with a tarp and then make the last leg of my trip back to Huntsville, Alabama before I could sleep that night. It was afternoon already. (…And I really needed to play with the grandchildren in Columbus for a few minutes, too!)
I went inside the McDonald’s. Two old codgers sat there chewing the fat over their afternoon cups of coffee. I thought it might be worth trying, so I said “You don’t have a pair of jumper cables, do you? I left my lights on and I can’t get the auto parts folks to come for another little while.”
One of them said he did have some and he’d go get his truck and see if we could “start her up.” He uttered a profane word or two, but in a few minutes, I was excited to be ready to roll again. I jumped out of the cab and shut the door to run around and thank these two men one last time before leaving. Just as I did close the door, I heard that familiar electronic sound of power locks. I had just automatically locked my keys, purse, and phone in the truck…and it was running! I ran back around to confirm what I already knew…every door was locked up tight. I looked at one of the old friends. He said, “Ma’am, this just ain’t your day, is it?”
“We ain’t got no locksmith in our town.” (Of course not. Of course, they don’t.) “But the sheriff’s a friend of ours. That’s who we’ll have to call. He might have to scratch up your truck a little.” (Of course he will. Of course he will scratch up my husbands new/old truck on it’s very first trip out of town.)
But, at this moment, I was thankful for my new “cussing” friend and I started a conversation while we waited for the sheriff… about my husband—where he was and what he was doing out in Texas:
“Oh, he’s a preacher, then. Well, where do y’all live?”
“We live in Huntsville, Alabama. My husband preaches in Huntsville for the West Huntsville church of Christ.”
‘Well, I have a great niece who lives in Huntsville…really in Madison… but I can’t think of her name right now….But what have you been doing all the way down in Florida?”
“Well, my son lives down there and his wife is having a baby. So I took a cradle that my husband made and I worked on the nursery.”
“Well, what does your son do in Jacksonville?”
“He’s a preacher, too. He preaches for the Lakeside church in Orange Park.”
“Well, why are you going to Columbus?”
I thought, at this point, about reserving some information, but these two old men just didn’t seem like perpetrators of injury. So I said, “Well, that’s where my daughter lives. Her husband preaches at the Edgewood church there in Columbus.”
“Well,” he responded, “I ain’t never heard of so much religion in one family.” Then he told me about something he’d watched with emotion on television—about a father being in thankful prayer when his son was saved after being wounded in one of the school shootings.
I said, “God is so good. I’ve been talking to him several times already today.”
He said, “I bet you have. You’re needin’ to, I believe.”
(I noticed that this kind old man never cursed again. He complained about the heat and humidity. [By now, the rain had given us a short respite.] He complained that his sheriff buddy was off-duty today. He complained about the deputy taking so long. But he never used that colorful language again.)
The deputy did not have the right tool (Of course she didn’t), so we waited a while more for the back-up car to come. I was glad, that if this kind of stupidity on my part was going to emerge, that it did happen in a sweet little town where the back-up patrol was called in for the Jimmy tools.
I could hardly watch while they did the truck-scratching work. I thought of my husband’s excitement the previous week, as he told me about this new white truck he’d found “without a scratch. Somebody did hit the bumper, so the man just bought a brand new bumper to replace the old one. I mean, Cindy, this truck is pristine. I think I’ll buy this truck.”
So, instead of watching, I went inside and bought gift cards for the men who were being so very patient and kind to me. (I did have one credit card in my pocket.) These sweet men tried to refuse the little gifts, but they’d already told me that they eat breakfast together there at McDonald’s, with the sheriff and a few more men, every day, so I knew it was a practical little thank-you gift. I insisted.
Before long I was driving on toward those sweet grand-babies. By now I looked like a homeless granny without a shelter bridge. The driving rain was back with a vengeance. But, you know, grandchildren don’t notice drenched hair or wrinkled clothes. They’re just looking to see if you brought a surprise. So I’d stop and get a frosty just before I got to Wood Duck Lane. But I would not, under any circumstances, kill the motor or get out of the truck. I’d use the drive-through.
- Worrying really never does avail much. Praying does (James 5:16).
- People often say they can’t help cursing. “It’s just such a habit.” That’s not true. Knowledge is power.
- Never close the door on a running vehicle. (especially if you have a child locked inside in a carseat….Can you even imagine?)
- There are lots of people who have crusty outsides, yet very benevolent, patient insides. Those people may be good candidates for conversion. some of them have not seen “much religion” and maybe you could show them some.
- Pristine material things will never be pristine for very long, anyway. So don’t sweat it so much when you are forced to help them along to the destined place of rest…the scrapyard.
- My husband is the best. His response about the door?…”Well, It’s not really that bad.”
- Sometimes you have to tell your husband you scratched up the truck. You should remember that on the days when he leaves his socks on the floor or scatters his popcorn on the rug under his chair.
- Good days are relative. You just need to look around (at cancer, at automobile accidents, at children lost to death, etc…) to realize that sometimes when “This just ain’t your day.” it really is very much your day.
- Grandchildren make everything better—the one on the way in Florida and the ones who love ice cream in Georgia. But some of you were already ahead of me on this one. Thank God for them every day. Pray for their heavenward progression every day. Just do not let days go by without praying for each of them by name.
- Son-in-laws are good, too. Mine helped me tie up that furniture, a piece he had re-finished for a family member for Christmas. He then insisted that I was not going to drive home that night without him testing and replacing my battery. (And not even one curse word under his breath.)