Twenty-eight hours into a 30-hour road trip –that’s when my son’s 2000 Dodge Neon lost its lights. We were five minutes north of Fort Worth, Texas when my husband decided we were going to have to find a mechanic. There was no way we could get through Fort Worth with no brake lights.
Bums were tired. Hearts were discouraged.
We pulled in to a gas station and asked about a mechanic. The cashiers gave us a pitying look and pointed across the street.
We drove over, and the man came out from under a hood and told us to pull under a canopy where there was some shade. Shade is a liar in Texas. “Cooler here,” it says, but humidity follows and cicadas laugh at your sweaty face.
The man consulted his computer and then came and took a look. Tried something that didn’t work. Consulted the computer again. Then he knelt down in the gravel (bless him) and started taking apart significant pieces connected to the steering column.
My husband and I exchanged anxious looks.
First I prayed for what I really wanted. Please let it be an easy fix. Please let it be an easy fix.
We stood there for an hour, and I could feel the sweat dripping down the center of my back. The possibility of spending the night in Fort Worth was growing, and it was depressing. As it was, we were only going to have two days to settle our son in college. I wanted to cry at the thought that it might turn into less than that.
But I had enough time to get my thoughts in order –to turn the mechanic’s driveway into a private sanctuary. Humbling myself before the Lord, I transposed my prayer into a different key.
Father, what do you want this moment to look like?
I laid down my picture of the perfect college drop off and imagined the Lord might have greater goals for maturing our inner selves.
Whatever you want, Lord. I’ll accept it and look for the lessons you have for us in this.
Your will be done. (Matthew 6:10 NIV)
“Maybe it’s a fuse under the hood,” the mechanic said.
Up went the hood, and quickly he discovered a blown fuse. We even had the replacement in our glove box. He stuck in the new fuse, and on came those beautiful brake lights. I’ve never seen lights as beautiful as those.
We slipped the man cash for labor and thanked him about 157 times for dropping what he was doing to help us.
And we were on our way. Tired and sweaty, I transposed my prayer one more time into a tune of thankfulness. Thankful the lights had gone out before the crazy city traffic. Thankful for the mechanic at our very first stop. Thankfulness for his willingness to help us right away. Thankful for that simple fuse repair. Thankful to be back on the road having lost only one hour.
We can gripe and sigh and be depressed when our situation goes south, or we can construct a makeshift but holy chapel in the mind and come away from the difficult experience having had an intimate, life-changing encounter with the living God. The best prayer to pray in that moment is open-ended, giving God freedom to do his best work.
God might have worked a different outcome. We might have found ourselves looking for a hotel room, but my heart was ready to see the goodness of God no matter what.
So in the face of possible bad news, will you trust the Lord enough to pray, How do you want this situation to look?