Talking to God…, when my car broke down.

Posted: July 22, 2008 in Lessons learned, My Life, Spiritual Thoughts

I don’t think I mentioned yesterday that on our way to our vacation spot, my car broke down.  Well actually it broke down 4 times before we actually arrived at our destination.  Do you hate when that happens?  Then read on.

So get the picture here.  You’re all excited about your vacation, you are only 37 miles from your destination, driving down the interstate at 70mph (okay, maybe 75), and all of a sudden your car decides to just cut off.  Grr. In the middle lane of a three lane highway.  Ouch.  What follows is not exactly what happened, but I want you to imagine what my conversation with God about this may have sounded like.

Uhh, Lord.  My car just quit running. 

Yes Dennis, I am aware of that.

Well, I could use a little help here God.  I mean, surely you do not want us to have this kind of problem, right?

Exactly what is your problem right now Dennis?

Uhh, my car is not running.

I am aware of that, but why is this such a problem?

I don’t think I understand Lord.  This does not look like a problem to you?  I mean, I am sitting on the side of the interstate, it is like 95 degrees outside, we have no AC, our friends have had to pull off the road behind us, and we are going to be late getting to our wonderful condo!  Not to mention the fact that I wanted to at least get a chance to hit a bucket of balls at the driving range this evening before dark!

Well, it seems as though the plan you made is not exactly following the path you laid, is it?  What does this say to you about plans YOU make Dennis?

I guess they are subject to change based upon what you want Lord.  Is this one of those lesson times again?  Is this one of those events you intend to use to grant me wisdom?  I ask only because I have been known to miss your instruction at times.

So are you telling me Dennis that you only listen for my voice SOME of the time?

Uhh, well, you know how it is Lord, I …., I…., well – I guess so.  I’m sorry Lord.  I just get so busy doing what I think I should do.  So I guess you were trying to get my attention then?

I always want your attention Dennis.  I have so many things to teach you, if you will just be still and listen.  It really does not take that much action on your part. As a matter of fact, the less busy you are in your life, the more you will stay in the moment, which is where I am.  So let me ask you some important questions.

Well Lord, I am sitting on the side of the road, with no way to go anywhere, so you have my attention for sure.

Okay.  Do you want to hear from me?  Do you want to move through life with me as your guide?  Do you believe I can guide you every moment?  Do you understand that I do have a plan for what is best for you?  Are you willing to keep your ear tuned to my voice at all times?

Wow.  That’s a lot of questions!  Of course the answer in my heart is YES to all those questions, but in my day to day life it is so easy to step away from you Lord.  I don’t mean to, but it just happens.  How do I stop it?

Don’t overcomplicate it Dennis.  Just make sure you take time during the day to be still.

Oh — you mean like my car is right now?

You got it.  I may occasionally stop you myself.  I use fatigue, spoiled plans, other people, illness, and yes even death at times to speak to you.  Just make that your first response to all events is to be still a moment and listen, and I will instruct you.

Okay Lord.  So can I start my car now?

Sure Dennis, go ahead.

So them my car started.  Amazing.  And it ran for 25 more miles.  Then it stopped again, 3 more times before we got to our destination, but each time I only had to let it rest a few minutes.  I guess God felt we needed to test out what I learned right away.  Each time I stopped that day, I listened attentively, and I heard his voice.  Some of it had nothing to do with my car, I thought about my blessings, how I take things (like running cars) for granted, etc.  My wife and I took the time to chat a bit (always a good thing), and it really did not bother me much at all to be on the side of the road.  Strange…

Is your life a bit like this?  Does God have to stop you occasionally to get your attention?  Do you intentionally look for times to talk with Him outside of a moment of need?  I know I am guilty of that, but am determined to stop more often, just to have a chat. 

Oh, and by the way, my car breaking down was a mere inconvenience, not a problem.  I need to see more things that way, instead of getting upset anytime one of my plans go awry.

Tell me about your conversations with God outside of pleading prayer.  Do you have enough of them?  I hope so …..

  1. Interestingly, I had an “in-car” experience in 2001. My wife was in the hospital for two nights with scheduled surgery leaving me to care for our four boys. As a family of six, we had a van. We tend to keep our vehicles until they die and this one was getting elderly.

    On this particular weekend the van with its 4 month old rebuilt engine was making noises while I was driving with a couple of errands. I was mentally deciding that it was time to get a new van even though it was running fine even if it had a ping. I then had a whole stewardship conversation with God.

    Me: “God, I really want to replace this van.”
    God: “Why.”
    Me: “Because I don’t like these noises.”
    God: “Is that a good use of your money?”
    Me: Sheepishly, “Not really.”
    God: “So what do you want to do about it?”
    Me: “I’m sorry. I should be grateful for what I have. I will be content with this vehicle in whatever condition you allow me to have it.”

    Having made peace with God about my van, I continued my drive for another 45 seconds when my van was then totaled. Yes, totaled. A mere 45 seconds later.

    I was going to my church late that night to retrieve my PPT projector that I loaned to support a PineWood derby race for the Boys Brigade club. Turning at a light, a corvette driving hight speed and recklessly in the opposite direction spun out of control and crossed the median. My van plowed straight into the driver side of the ‘vet. I was ambulatory but bruised. It took over an hour to extract the other driver. He spent about a month in the hospital.

    Now my prayer changed to one of gratitude for life and protection. That was what was really most important. Not a ping in the engine. The first number I called was my paster whom I consider to be one of my closest friends. His wife went to the house to be with the boys while he went to the hospital with me.

    Unlike Bond’s martinis, I was shaken and stirred. Shaken that life is so fragile. Stirred to ensure that I appreciate the important things in life.

  2. Dennis Rice says:

    Wow. Another God delivery story. Not only is the Bible full of these, we still have them occurring every day in our lives. Those that say God is not still working need to hear these stories.

    Thanks for that story Kevin.

  3. Jeremy says:

    Really hurtin’ right now and my Google search landed me here. Need to be reminded that God delivers.

  4. Dennis Rice says:

    It’s hard isn’t it? You get caught in between the weight of the issues in your life and the guilt for not trusting God to deliver you.

    Jeremy needs a reminder, so here it is. God delivers Jeremy. Look for the ways it comes to you. It may only be a small gesture on someones part, but it will come to you. We wallow in our pity parties (which gets us nowhere), instead of looking around at the environment we have found ourselves in to discover what God is doing.

    Try it — then report back on what happens!

    I don’t believe I know you Jeremy, but I’ll pray for you.

  5. Jeremy says:

    thanks for the prayers. This is weird. I have never posted to a board like this before. But, I’ve had a number of very visible setbacks at work this week. It has stretched me thin… and pulled me way too far away from my wife and kids, who I love desperately.

    I am still not quite sure how God is going to use all this, but I am at the place where I believe he will.

    I am really thankful for a number of people who have been praying for me, and, since all the world is able to see this post, I will say this, share your desperate moments with trusted prayer partners. They will lift you up to God, and they will also be witnesses to what God does in your situation. Don’t leave it all inside.

    I tend to do that… i know i do.

    So, I am learning SOMETHING in all this.

    Thanks for letting a stranger post like this. Much appreciated.

  6. Teresa says:

    I thought I was stressed out this week when the pipe under my house burst flooding my hallway and then on christmas eve my car wouldn’t start with a trunk full of groceries and three little ones in the back. When we finally made it back home I just sat aimlessly at the pc and typed in “what do you do when your car breaks down and you have no money and three little kids?” and this website popped up. Maybe I should look at this as just a small road block in my life…..but I need a hero!!

  7. Dennis Rice says:

    Sorry it took me so long to see this, been taking a little hiatus for most things technical for a bit during the holidays.
    Seeing God as a hero is great. He certainly does heroic things in our lives. But is he reaally a hero? When I think of heros, I think of people going over aand above the norm in their lives to do something great. Doing awesome and wonderful things is what God does. All day. Every day. Imagine that, having soemone on this earth you can call anytime to resuce you from your trials.

    Personally, I think we do have that. His name is God, Jehova, etc… We just forget to talk to him. Sad.

    I like your roadblock analogy though. We tend to look at problems as one big thing, when in reality most are made up of a number of smaller things that can be dismantled one piece at a time, just like a roadblock.

    Have a great day everyone.

  8. fofaf says:

    thank you so much, i was looking for something i could learn from a similar experiences, and you provided me with a valuable lesson that has me re-thinking a lot of things currently happening in my life. thank you thank you

  9. Dennis Rice says:

    Glad to see this post continues to slow some people down. I get a message each time a comment is made, and it brings me back to my own thoughts of that day. Thanks to all, and to you fofaf, I pray your rethinking brings you results, but especially hope you hear Gods voice clearly.

  10. floor jack says:

    I must say, that I could not agree with you in 100%, but it’s just my opinion, which indeed could be very wrong.
    p.s. You have a very good template . Where have you got it from?

  11. Dennis Rice says:

    floor jack,

    Not sure I understand. What do you not agree with 100%? Just curious.

    The template is just one of the standard WordPress blog templates you can choose when you set up a WordPress site.

    Take care.

  12. Imelda says:

    I went to church and prayed and all the good stuff that goes along with it. Yes I am a backslider. I haven’t been to church in a good while. I do think about it sometimes, but not often enough. and there are a lot of other details that could be mentioned some other place and time, but conversations with God, I’ve never been able to actually “hear” God. Is it the same thing as like talking to yourself? I guess not, that would be so wrong to think that way.

  13. Dennis Rice says:

    Hi Imelda. You story is not an unfamiliar one. Many of us have been “backsliders” in our faith walk. I kind of see it like the wandering in the desert the jews did in the bible.

    For a number of years after a difficult divorce, I wandered. I just seemed to have lost the understanding that my more faithful period had. But somewhere in me, there was a desire or urge to still be a part of some faith community. When I remarried, my wife had that same desire, so we became “seekers” of a church home. Well, we found one, and now I cannot imagine not spending time there with good friends where we have good fun and grow spritually. I would challenge you to seek a church home. There are so many great ones out there now, but the one for you may be different than what you had in the past. In my case, I was previously in a pretty conservative traditional church (think organ music and nice clothes). The one I am in now is a very contemporary methodist one (think full praise band and I wear shorts to church). I just was not being fed and growing closer to God before, but am now. Fine yourself a faith home to help you through this — you will be happy you did.

    Let’s compare my situation to yours for a moment. You say you do not hear God “clearly”. You also said “I do think about it sometimes” (church). I would say to you that when that thought comes, it is God wooing you. I honestly believe that you are “hearing” God speak on a regular basis. That is but one way we “hear” God — in our thoughts. There are many ways. I personally believe God speaks to us:

    – Through others by a kind act or word
    – By showing us things in nature
    – By thoughts in quiet moments
    – By reading the Bible
    – etc….

    We think of God on our own terms, with our own set of limitations. I think God has many more dimensions than we do. We think we have to hear God with our ears, but I think he speaks to our heart and many other methods. When I am struggling with a decision, I think God speaks to me as I work through the options. I now hear him all the time!

    I wrote this same thing in a post on this blog sometime ago, but will repeat it here.

    Want to hear God? Go to a quiet place. Sit still. Say, “I love you God”. Then listen. Reach out with your heart and soul. God will say, “I love you too”.

    Best wishes Imelda. Thanks for prompting me to think through this in my own heart again!

  14. Imelda says:

    Thank you! that kinda brought a tear to my eye. I did meet you when you were in Austin, TX a couple of years ago. I keep a cd of your testimony because i think that I might find somebody to lend it to, to help them.

  15. kristina says:

    I DON’T BELIEVE IN GOD. I was born into fostercare, and raped and abused my whole childhood. I never got adopted- no family, no money=I struggle daily- walk 4 miles to and from work. And When I finally saved up enough money for a car, It broke down two days later. IF THERE IS A GOD AND HE’S LETTING ME LIVE LIKE THIS THAN FUCK HIM!

  16. Dennis Rice says:

    Wow. I cannot even begin to imagine what it feels like to have been through all you have experienced. After having been through all that, I have to say I admire you for even being able to stand on your own two feet. I suspect that you have an awful lot of incredible strength to have survived it all. That’s not a load of BS either — I mean it. How in the world have you made it? Seriously — where do you draw your strength from? There is something in you that keeps you going, and I would really like to hear what you think it is!

    I would never try and tell you that you do not have a valid reason for being mad at God — and the rest of the world for that matter. In my case, through the difficult times in my life I have tried many solutions to problems. I’ve tried to just be smarter than the problem, I’ve tried ignoring the problems, and I’ve even tried to ask the wisdom of people I respected to solve the problems. Each of those methods work a little here and there, but they never seemed to work each time, leaving me confused the next time a crisis surfaced. Then at some point in my life, I realized that I did have a guide — right there inside of me. I can’t describe totally for you why, but I just knew it was God. To me, God is not the source of my pain or my problems, he is just the architect of my experiences. I believe that at times he does protect me from bad things, but at times, it is part of a plan I cannot fathom that I must go through some bad things, so he lets that happen. I know how that feels, because I have two kids that I have to do the same thing for. Sometimes I protect them, sometimes I let them experience things that will help them grow, even though it hurts me to see them suffer. That is my simple and likely wholly inadequate explanantion to you about how I feel on this.

    Now back to you. You are at least thinking about God, so I will hope that you will continue to do so. Keep talking to Him — even if you need to cuss and rant and rave. I believe he is okay with that, because deep down he understands us to the last molecule of who we are. I admit it — sometimes he really just pisses me off!! But I believe He loves me, and I love Him back and simply need to continue to trust Him.

    Now when I face a serious crisis, I do not struggle with what to do first. I talk to God. It is not always a seriously reverant praising kinda thing. Sometimes it is more of just a conversation — just like when the car broke down. Sometimes it is a rant, or even a cry. But it is ALL prayer. That is all prayer is — just a conversation with God. Keep having those conversations, and you will find that it is an incredibly helpful habit, and one that can bring peace and strength. Just make yourself be still, and it happens pretty easily.

    I understand why you are angry. Really — I get it, and even appreciate the expression of it in your comment. I’m just glad you can express it. How you handle your anger does not have to be the way I handle it, but God is there listening, I really, really believe that. Just keep talking.

    Thanks for taking the time to comment. I’d love to continue the conversation. I’m already talking about you anyway — to God.

    Hang in there — you’ll be fine. I’d love to hear back from you.

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