Change More Than a Tire

by Mary

Here’s the truth as I know it …

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-4 NIV).  

I was driving along, giving my husband a status report about my day, when I noticed an unidentifiable symbol appear on the dashboard of my car.  I pondered, realizing that the car was acting strangely, making more noise than usual.  I was one hour away from my home but a block away from my cousin’s house where I was doing some cleaning for her in preparation for an open house.  My husband told me to pull over and check the car’s manual to see what the light meant.  It took a while—anyone ever study your car’s extremely thorough manual?  I finally stumbled upon a troubleshooting page where there were symbols aplenty.  I felt like a family member in a hospital waiting room, expecting the doctor’s report any minute!  The symbol--which looked similar to several, so I checked three times to be sure--indicated that I had a flat tire!

I had pulled onto the nearest side street and put on my blinkers, so I was able to jump out of the car to see which tire was indeed flat.  Peering down at each one as I worked my way around the car, I spotted it--the front passenger side tire was flat as a pancake.  I grabbed my phone and called AAA.  Evidently, I have been a member for 28 years!  Holy cow!

I had to fumble with my phone’s GPS to figure out where in the world I was.  After all, I was an hour away from all that was familiar to me.  But I used the mailbox number of the house ahead of me and saw the street where I was parked and was told that someone would be out soon to assist.

Did I mention that it was very cold outside that day?  Like 27 degrees.

While I waited, I decided to move the contents of the trunk to the back seat of the car to assist the person who would need access to my donut tire.  I started humming as I shook life into my ice-cold hands, realizing how calm I was throughout this entire process.

If you know me at all, you know that I am not calm.  Ever.  My husband is the calm one.  I, on the other hand, am loud and agitated most days!  But on this day, in the midst of a flat tire in an unfamiliar area, I was calm.

Rolando arrived within minutes.  I could not believe my luck.  The man on the phone said an hour, but a truck pulled up behind my car in minutes.  I truly noticed the flat at 1:00 on that wintry afternoon but was hugging Rolando at 1:30 with my bad tire in my trunk and a smile on my face.  Yes, a smile.

Who smiles amidst a flat tire situation?  But all I kept doing was mentally making a list of why I was so grateful.  I was grateful that I caught it before I bent the rim from driving on the flat too long.  I was grateful that Rolando found a screw in my tire, because I wouldn’t have to buy a brand-new tire but could get this one plugged.  I was grateful that I had heat in my car on the cold day as I waited.  I was grateful that Rolando showed up so soon.  I was grateful that I paid for roadside assistance for 28 years for such a time as this.  I was even grateful for what I avoided, because I always see delay of any kind as God’s way of keeping you from an even worse fate.  Most of all, though, I was grateful that the entire process did not slow me down so that I could run the errand for my cousin that I said I would run.  I wanted to be a blessing.

If my friends were near, they would have felt my forehead to see if I was suffering from hypothermia or something.  I am usually a complainer.

God’s Word, though, says:  “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-4 NIV).  I finally obeyed scripture!  I was actually joyful in the midst of my trial.  I was on my way to perseverance!

Let me tell you that this was a crossroads moment for me.  I could have allowed a flat tire to ruin my day; no one would have blamed me.  But I did not let the moment define how I was going to view that afternoon.  I was in the middle of trying to be a blessing to my cousin, and I was not going to let the joy I was experiencing for being a big ol’ giver to be ruined. 

You can choose to be content in the middle of very bad circumstances.  In Acts, we learn that Paul and Silas did that:  “They were severely beaten, and then they were thrown into prison. The jailer was ordered to make sure they didn’t escape.  So the jailer put them into the inner dungeon and clamped their feet in the stocks.  Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening.  Suddenly, there was a massive earthquake, and the prison was shaken to its foundations. All the doors immediately flew open, and the chains of every prisoner fell off!” (Acts 16:23-26 NLT).  They chose joy in the midst of their suffering, and it made a very big impression on God who arranged a big result.

I chose joy when I could have chosen otherwise.  My tire may have been changed that day, but so was I.  I chose contentment in the middle of my circumstances, and it has made all the difference.  What will you choose when life sucks all the air out of your tires?

… and that’s the truth as I know it.