I never liked Cinderella.
And yet, on that mind-boggling day, I could almost say that I felt like her. Except that my coachman was a long-haired redneck with a Copenhagen ring. And my pumpkin-coach was a tow truck. And instead of leaving the ball too late, I nearly missed arriving at all. And (thank goodness) I was wearing a Cabelas hoodie instead of that preposterous bedazzled dress….
It happened all too quickly to really explain. All I know is, when my rusty green Mercury clanked and came to a deathly, sullen halt at a green light just far enough over the peak of a hill to be invisible to the lines of rush hour traffic behind me, I was hoping on a prayer that the two 18-wheelers who were riding on my bumper would be quick on the trigger. They were. Their brakes screeched and squealed behind me as they wove to a stop…. Just in time. Another line of traffic was rapidly cresting the hill directly behind me. The light was still green.
That’s when I decided to exit the car.
Standing in that weedy parking lot, waiting for the tow truck to arrive, watching the smoke seep from under the hood of my car and watching vehicle after vehicle zoom over the hill and frantically switch lanes or slam on the brakes to avoid hitting my dysfunctional car, I couldn’t help but wonder, “Why, God? Why allow my trusty old tin can to give up the ghost now? Why do I, a weary, penniless Bible college student, need to deal with this just 20 stinkin’ minutes before our end-of-semester banquet is supposed to commence?
Ugh!!! This is terrible timing!”
Almost an hour later, driving back towards the Bible school campus on a high-backed leather seat beside the tow truck driver, my poor lifeless car clanking along on the trailer behind us, we somehow found ourselves talking about fate. And I remember saying, “It’s a good thing I have a skateboard, ‘cause I don’t live around here, and it might be my only way to get home tomorrow. But either way, I know God has a plan for this. If I could only see life through His eyes, I know I would never want to change a single circumstance of my life, no matter how hard. Everything happens for a reason.”
I’ve come to believe that it’s dangerous to make such bold statements. Somewhere in the future they usually become tested…
We rattled on into the campus parking lot and came to a halt directly under the windows of the music room where the entire student body was taking formal class pictures. I helped to unload the care while dodging puddles of tobacco juice with impressive style and ease and attempted to calm my friends, who were peering out of the windows with varying degrees of surprise, amusement, and concern at my untimely predicament.
I backed my car into a parking spot while my tow truck friend pushed… said thanks to him and waved goodbye… turned back towards my car just in time to see that it was still in neutral and was drifting speedily towards a large pine tree…. dashed to it and threw it in park literally two inches before it hit… grabbed my boots out of the back seat and laughed about the people who might think it strange to see my car parked half in the parking lot and half under a tree… darted up the back stairs of the dormitory… and stuffed myself in a very uncomfortable dress in time to enter the banquet hall only a few minutes late.
I was glad to sit down.
I called my father during a break in the festivities, and he, in his customary super-awesomeness, agreed to re-arrange his schedule in order to bring a trailer down to the campus the next day. Something bothered me, though. I had promised to give my friend a ride home early the next day. I hurried to find her and apologized that our plans would have to be cancelled because of all this mess. I suggested that she could hop home with one of the other girls who lived in my vicinity. Surprisingly, she said she’d rather hang around and wait for me. Just because she’s a gem.
At 2 pm the next day, I was waiting expectantly in the hallway with my bags packed. My phone rang. My father’s voice was on the other end. He sounded stressed.
“Hey, Kara, you know how we were supposed to be picking you up in thirty minutes? Well, that wont be happening now. A tire fell off my truck, and I’m stuck here on the shoulder of the highway until someone can come get me with a trailer.
….Yes, it was a tire I was driving on. Yes, at 68 miles per hour. I chased it down the highway on foot once I got the truck stopped. Whew……. I’m still tired. But anyhow, tell your friend that it’s gonna be at least 4 hours till we get there. I’m really sorry about all of this.”
Really? How often does a tire just randomly fall off? Creeps! All of this was just too ironic. But it got better…
Two hours later, I received another call. “Hey, hun? Just wanted to let you know that Art (my mechanic, and also my brother-in-law) just hit the road now. Turns out that the keys for his truck somehow ended up with me (my father was two hours away from Art at the time)… and yeah, every single thing that could possibly go wrong, did while he was trying to round up a truck and trailer to rescue us all. But he is FINALLY on his way, so hang in there! 4 more hours should do it.”
Seriously??!? MORE waiting? My impatience was beginning to show. All I wanted to do was to go home and sleep forever.
By this time, there were only three students left on campus, and the dormitory felt more like a dark, hollow tomb than the bubbling hub of life it had been just a day before. My friends and I decided to stop by a local radio ministry while we waited for our rescuers to arrive. We had just enough time to get a quick tour before the business closed, and thankfully, all of the staff were still on duty. Just as our tour ended and we were heading out the door, we heard a voice behind us, “Hey, you guys should stop in and meet Bob before you go. He just got off the phone.” To this day, I’m not exactly sure who Bob is and how the subject came up, but before we’d been in his office five minutes, he began telling us the animated story of fruitless search for missionaries to staff a Christian orphanage in Mexico. The current staff workers were being drastically overtaxed, and Bob was becoming overwhelmed because it was an extremely long process to simply train a new staff person in the language, much less the skills needed for the job.
My friend’s eyes started to sparkle, and she began asking question after question.
Bob was more than happy to provide information.
Before the hour was up she had completed an application and received an invitation to travel to Mexico with Bob and some other staff the next month. But maybe you don’t realize just how epic this was, both for Bob AND my friend.
You see, Bob had no applicants. But my friend had majored in evangelism and missions during her term at Bible school, and God had planted an insurmountable hunger for service in her young heart. Bob had a large set-back in hiring staff, because it took so long to train them in the language and customs. My friend was FROM Mexico, and had lived in the US, and so was extremely well-versed in the language and customs of both locations. Bob needed someone ASAP. But the Heavenly Father had brought my friend to just the place in her walk with Him where she could say, “Yes, Father, if this is your will, then I am ready.”
What do you think? Was this meeting a shallow shot in the dark called ‘chance’? Or was it a wild, dangerous, spectacular rainbow of divine initiation? As my friends and I finally left the business, contact information and brochures in tow, there wasn’t a dry eye among us. We could feel the presence of the Lord in our midst, and it was as if He had audibly whispered,
“See? All of your car problems over the past two days were for a PURPOSE! I needed you to be right here, right now for a reason. This miracle that just took place for Bob and for your friend could not have happened any other way. Was it worth it? Was it worth all the hassle for my work to go forth, for harvesters to be added to my fields? Take this, not only as a symbol of my love for Bob and your friend, but as a symbol of my love for YOU. I do not allow hardship without a reason. And this time, I have chosen to reveal my reason. Remember this, child, and be at peace.”
Suddenly, nothing mattered anymore, except this moment… right here, right now. It didn’t matter that I’d had to call 911. It didn’t matter that I’d had to fork out a ridiculous amount of cash to the towing company. It didn’t matter that I’d almost missed the banquet. It didn’t matter that my family ended up needing to drive almost 1,000 miles to pick me up (normally the round trip would have been 550). It didn’t matter that we had two broken-down vehicles. We all now saw these obstacles as tools. Tools for the kingdom. Tools of love. Symbols that my friend’s destiny mattered! That she was infinitely valuable!
And now, 5 months later, as she works at the orphanage and sometimes things get tough, I know it is her reason to go on.
Because one person’s road block is another person’s glory.
Our Father always has a plan. And it is something BEAUTIFUL.