Prelude to a Trip
I left the house at 4:10 this morning in order to be at the Family Church in Chesterfield by 5:30. Those of you who are familiar with the St. Louis area and know where Lisa and I live instantly realize that it normally would take 45 minutes or so to drive there from our house. However, I was not driving a normal car. I was driving "Old Blue"(1990 Cavalier), which in the past few weeks had begun overheating slightly on extended drives. So I left really early so that I could stop for a few minutes, if need be, to cool the vehicle down.
Well, on this morning I had only driven 2 miles or so and, to my suprise and fear, the Temp light blinked on. I quickly pulled off into the White Castle parking lot and threw open the hood. I added a little water to the radiator, but it seemed to have plenty of fluid. I checked the oil and added a quart. After about 5 minutes of waiting, I fired up the car and continued on my way. I made it most of the way down highway 94 toward Interstate 40 when the Temp light and Check Engine lights decided to come on at the same time. Now in the weeks of running hot, the car had never shown the check engine light.
As I pulled of the road into a deserted bank parking lot I heard a slight rattling coming from under the hood and as I stopped I caught a glimpse of smoke coming from the tailpipe. Once again I lifted the hood and let things cool and checked the fluids once more. I added quite a bit of water/coolant to the radiator this time and waited for the car to cool. After 10 minutes of waiting, I started the car once again and continued on my way.
Accelerating onto Interstate 40 I heard the rattle once again, but this time it was accompanied with a billowing cloud of smoke pouring from behind the car. Immediately the Temp and Engine lights came on and I pulled to the shoulder. By now it was 5:10 and I was frustrated and worried that I would not make it to the church on time. I sat in the car wondering what I should do. I felt that I had reached a place where God was trying to show me something, so I began to pray that I would receive the lesson or wisdom that He had for me. In those minutes of prayer, I went from being frustrated to very content. I prayed about my situation. I prayed about the car. I prayed about my motivation for going on this trip. Feeling much more focussed on my motivation and purpose for where I was headed, I started the car back up.
Not knowing whether or not I would make it all the way to my destination, I pulled back on to the highway and slowly began to build momentum. I still had smoke billowing from behind me and I could hear an occasional rattle from in front of me. I made it about a mile down the road when the Temp light blinked on again. Feeling quite determined and not wanting to stop right away again, I pressed on going 10 miles per hour below the limit. I limped my way across the Daniel Boone bridge and thought about pulling over. In that moment I decided that if God wanted me to go on this trip He was going to have to get me to the church in this car. And if I wasn't suppose to go on this trip, God would allow my car to stop moving toward the church. (Some might question the validity of such a prayer, but in that moment it is what I was asking God to do - show me clearly whether He wanted me on the trip or not.)
I exited at Boone's Crossing and made my way into Amini's parking lot and stopped the car once again to cool down. I sat for five minutes and decided that I needed to get moving again. At this point I was less than a mile from the church and it was already 5:35. I pulled into the church parking lot and whipped into the first avaialble spot, where "Old Blue" promptly died and sputtered for a few seconds. I had made it to the church almost on time. Thankfully, the group was not ready to leave yet, so I was able to load my stuff up without having to make anyone wait on me.
The sun had not even come up over St. Louis yet and I had already been in my car for well over an hour, propped the hood up numerous times, added fluids twice and prayed quite intensely throughout the whole ordeal. It was an odd way to start out a mission trip, but it was an absolutely perfect way for God to recenter my focus on Him...