When All Else Fails — Trust

8 06 2014

Occasionally I look back to the early years of Cathy and I starting our lives together as one and momentarily relive those days once more. One side of me will shout out, “Boys, I’m glad that’s over; I wouldn’t want to relive a minute of that ever again!” But then there’s a quieter side that gently says, “But John  Cathy & the Bugweren’t those some of the best years you ever experienced relying fully on God to help you take the next step?” And I always have to say to the second voice, “You’re right, no argument.”

The year was 1975, we had moved to Indiana the year prior for me to attend college. I was working a minimum wage ($2.10 per hour) part-time job and Cathy worked full time at a bank making around $2.50. We lived in a sunroom/garage that had been remodeled and converted into a one bedroom apartment. These days we have what we call “Date Nite” every Friday and go out to eat somewhere; back then that occasion would have been celebrated with a couple of cans of soda and a bag of potato chips to split as we drove around. It was rough but it wasn’t terrible, we met our bills and made the best of this life we chose. One of the highlights came when we would get a call from back home from a loved one who was checking up on us. One day I got call from my beloved Great-Aunt Peal down in Southern West Virginia. “Johnny, would you and Cathy come down here for Thanksgiving this year, it’s been too long since I’ve see you two.” “We’d love to Pearl, but we just don’t have the extra to make a long trip like that.” There was a pause and then she said, “Now you know if you can get here, I’ll take care of getting you back, and maybe a little extra!” Say no more and take me home Country Roads! The day we left out, we filled up our little VW (at .57 cents a gallon it wasn’t the strain it would be today) and had just under 50 bucks to make the journey. This was going to be great, a small vacation and it would hardly cost us a thing, what could possible go wrong? How bout a broken down car in the middle of nowhere!

The hour was a little past midnight into early Thanksgiving morn when while driving along Route 52 near the Ohio River the car made a funny sound and then went dead. There we were on a deserted road 200 hundred miles from home and over that distance left to reach Pearl’s house, we were stuck and no one in sight. I got of the car, cold wind whistling around me and simply said, “God, if ever there was a time we needed you, it’s right now.” Down the road I could see headlights approaching and as he drew near he slowed, and turned on his flashers, it was the Ohio State Patrol. I told the officer what happened and he immediately went to my engine compartment and began working. He tried for over 30 minutes, but finally gave up and took us to the nearest town, Southpoint, Ohio and let us out at a hotel. “The service station on the corner will be open at 7,” he told us. “I’ll get word to them and they’ll get your car running.” Well, I hope he was right. Entering the hotel we found out the price of a room was almost the same as we had in our pockets so that was out. The girl behind the desk looked us and then said, “It doesn’t cost anything to stay in the lobby, if you want to stretch out on the couch you’re more than welcome to.” So we did until morning and then went into the restaurant, but looking at the prices on the menu we decided we better leave and hang on to what money we had to fix the car. Before we could get up to leave, the waitress brought us coffee and toast, “Here, you two look like you could use this and it’s not going to cost this place that much to help.” “Thank you Lord for the kindness of strangers you have set in our path, but now, what about the car?!!”

Going over to the service station, the manager told us he had talked to the patrolman and they were just on their way to tow our car in. So the work began trying to restore out little green Bug to running condition. One hour, two hours, then three and still nothing, we sat in the waiting area watching them toil over our car, but try as they did it just wouldn’t start. “We need parts that we don’t have here,” the manager informed us. Great, now what I thought! Seeing the look of dismay on our faces he went on. “Now let’s not give up yet, let me call a friend of mine across the river in Kentucky and see if I can get him to open his parts store for us.” That would have to be one heck of a friend to leave his home on Thanksgiving to do such a thing. When the manager got off the phone he went out, jumped in his truck and was gone for almost an hour, but returned with the needed parts. Two more hours and we finally heard that beautiful sound we had been waiting to here, our little green machine was running once again, WooHoo!! But now there was a new dilemma, six hours of work to get it running plus a towing bill and then running out of state to get parts, I figured the bill was going to be more than we paid for the car! We could write them a check, if they would even take it, but there wasn’t much more in our account than what we had in our pockets. “Uh, God, John here again, thanks for all you’ve supplied so far but now we have a bigger problem, and if you don’t somehow materialize a few hundred dollars right now Cathy and I may become residents of Southpoint, Ohio, living in the back of a garage, working odd jobs to pay off our bill, HELP!!!”

“So you two are headed to West Virginia for Thanksgiving huh? Well you’re gonna make it, but I don’t think dinner will still be on the table, maybe they’ll save you a turkey leg and some pumpkin pie.” Then with a smile the manager handed me the bill. I was scared to look down at the number, but when I did my head immediately shot back up to look this man in the face mostly to see if he was still smiling; he was. Very little was written on the paper, but what was there nearly brought tears to my eyes–Total Bill: $28.

I’m sure some would say, “Well John, sure all those people helped you; a young couple is dire straights on Thanksgiving Day is just good old human kindness.” No argument really, but my question back would be how did they “all” come together like that to bring about that kindness? That’s not easy odds anytime or anyplace. Charles Swindoll said this, “We must cease striving and trust God to provide what He thinks is best and in whatever time He chooses to make it available. But this kind of trusting doesn’t come naturally. It’s a spiritual crisis of the will in which we must choose to exercise faith.”

Over the course of my life, and especially in those early years, I cannot begin to count the many times God’s hand was on my life providing, maybe not what I wanted, but what I needed just at the right time and moment. Folks, I’m not here just to relate a story, I’m here to attest that during the times of life when I have put my faith and hope in God the most, He has always been there for me in evident ways too numerous to expound on here today. My advice, join me as a “Traveler of the Rock Road,” put your “total” trust in Him; that’s what He’s there for, that’s what He wants, that’s how He loves you.

It was late into the night when we reached the road Pearl’s house sat on. Cathy was asleep and I opened the moon roof to gaze up at the brilliance of the stars for a brief moment, and there was the voice. “See those stars Johnny, I made them just for you so that you would know I’m here and I’m big enough to handle anything that you’re willing to turn over to Me, I love you!”

Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”  I got no argument!  See ya next week!!!


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