I’m reopening a blog post draft that I began almost six months ago, which wouldn’t be so bad if the first post hadn’t been about transmission trouble.
I’m no mechanic, but I know more about a failing transmission now than before I began this post—either time. And I know that the loss of a transmission signals one of two events—days of misery or an unfolding adventure.
Thankfully, both times I got to experience the adventure.
My brother Daniel, my friend Jill, and I were 627 miles into our 2,000 mile drive home for vacation when our transmission gave out. That left us stranded on the shoulder of the interstate at 5:30 p.m. on a Friday night. Not good.
Actually, that became the beginning of an adventure—the kind you can’t believe you experienced, but don’t really want to encounter again.
Here are a few of the play-by-play highlights:
- Happen to gain help from a pastor across the interstate (thanks to Daniel searching on foot for help) who happens to still be at his church and happens to have enough transmission fluid to get us off the interstate.
- Find a really good price for a motel room and have the second room given us for free. (For real.)
- Venture a two hour road trip (without Daniel) with two mechanics we have never met before to see friends in a nearby city.
- Be chased by a pack of ferocious, growling dogs while on the streets of a strange city. (Okay, the pack is comprised of exactly two dogs, and they are Chihuahuas. But they are ferocious, and it does require a surge of adrenaline to outrun them.)
- Have a mechanic offer to loan us his vehicle—completely free—to drive another three thousand miles for two weeks while he works on ours. (Offer, as in suggest the deal. Free, as in no charge at all. Amazing.)
- See the Lord’s special provision in meeting the added expenses of the trip.
All in all, I was thankful for the many bright spots I would have missed without the adventure. But as you might guess, a major decision for my brother and me after this trip was simple: fly home next time—don’t drive.
Good idea…only not as transmission-proof as it might sound.
Daniel and I had greatly enjoyed time with our family for Christmas. Too soon, the time had come to an end, and our dad was driving us to the airport in Chicago for our departing flight. My mom and two younger sisters came with—partly so we could spend an extra three hours together, and I think partly to make the farewell more poignant.
You wouldn’t believe it, but two and a half miles from the airport, the transmission gave out. We limped off the interstate to a gas station to consider the situation. This was bad news on multiple counts. First, it meant my parents had a major car repair to deal with. Second and less important (but more pressing), it meant that Daniel and I would miss our flight. Not good.
Actually, enter the highlights of adventure 2:
- Daniel calls the hotel on the other side of the interstate to explain our dilemma and ask if they have shuttle service to the airport. (Pretty smart idea.) The hotel agrees to shuttle us to the airport free of charge if we can get there.
- My dad, Daniel, and I tow our single suitcase and hoist our two carry-ons (which was heavier than the suitcase, on the account that the airline does not weigh carry-ons) to begin the journey across Interstate 80 in Chicago. Thankfully, there is an overpass. We have no time to spare and practically run all the way.
- After a brief attempt, we opt out of the shortest route to the hotel, which involves descending a steep wooded embankment, leaping a four-foot, water-filled gully, and scaling an eight-foot chain link fence. (All of this seems excessive, considering our luggage.)
- After a run around multiple businesses to the entrance of the hotel, we make it before the shuttle, speed to the airport, and even make it to our flight before they begin boarding. In fact, the flight is delayed about fifteen minutes. (I think it prudent to refrain from telling the other passengers that I believe the Lord kept it delayed for us.)
Quite frankly, I would not have planned either of these two adventures. But I still can’t believe the memories we made through them. (Really, who do you know that gets to drive a stranger-mechanic’s vehicle while on vacation, sleep in a free motel room, and cross I-80 loaded with luggage to catch the shuttle of a hotel where they have never stayed?)
But here’s the catch: I could have missed the adventure. In either of those experiences, I could have suffered in misery. I didn’t tell you about the heat exhaustion, the bloody nose, the delays in travel, the fatigue, the sore back, or the frustrating dealings with mechanics. These were just as real as the free room and the helpfully-delayed flight. But thankfully, they weren’t our focus.
My natural tendency in such situations is to wonder how I could have avoided the problem or to move into a panic mode that insists on immediate action—any action. Yet, in both instances, I’m thankful that at the outset the Holy Spirit reminded me to leave it in His hands. Truthfully, I enjoyed the adventures. And I still enjoy the memories.
I don’t know what this new year holds—in road trips or otherwise. I’ve made plans and goals. You probably have too. But we both know that the year is likely to take twists and turns that weren’t on our lists.
What will we do? Enjoy the adventure, or fret over outcomes that are out of our control?
Let’s just lean back and enjoy the adventure.
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”—Jeremiah 29:11