I have driven literally hundreds of thousands of miles, mostly on the interstate, and this was my first flat tire on a road trip. It was a fairly ominous sign (if you take it that way), but in reality, if you’re going to get a flat tire during a 20+ hr overnight road trip, we couldn’t have asked for better timing.
- It happened shortly before dark, so no blazing sun, but still enough light to see clearly
- It was a couple of hours before we drove into a thunderstorm, so we didn’t have to deal with it in the rain
- It was early on so everyone was still pretty energetic. Even dropping my car off the jack (oops!), we were back on the road in about 25mins (it helped that we had two jacks)
- I just happened to have a full size spare, so we were able to keep driving until morning and go to Wal-Mart and get it replaced under my road hazard warranty
Not surprisingly, after driving on the spare for 500 miles and then driving on a brand new tire for another 500 miles to Orlando, I needed an alignment. Upon taking it to our mechanic here in Orlando (remember Ali lived here until we got married) we found out I needed about $1100 worth of front end repairs, including new brakes.
While a depressing financial set back, it was a much better scenario than my brakes wearing down to the metal somewhere in the middle of Louisiana at dark thirty (read: somewhere between 100-400am). I’m sure whatever mechanic we could have rustled up in the sticks of Louisiana or Mississippi would not have let us off that cheaply (read: we would have been financially screwed).
Did I mention Ali’s brakes were just as bad? (read: another $500, but discovered after safe arrival in FL)
All in all, we made it to Orlando safe and sound, got all our stuff transfered to storage, and have a place to stay with Ali’s parents for the summer. We applied for and got approved for CARES here in Orlando, so in 4-6 weeks we’ll be planted as missionaries in an apartment complex somewhere nearby. Ali started back work today at Panera, who approached her for a re-hire. As soon as I can wrap up my thesis, I’ll start working as well.
While certain parts of the journey here weren’t what we might have chosen had we been writing this particular story, upon inspection, we can see God’s grace permeating the whole affair. With eyes to see, a flat tire and brake job go from minor inconveniences to evidences of God’s hand at work in preparing the road before us. With a moving van and another car in our caravan, we made the trip in only 2 hours longer than it normally takes, and most of that was related to changing the tire (and other minor issues like getting pulled over in Florida for not taking the moving van through an agricultural inspection station). No wrecks, no pouring rain (although there was a tornado watch), no traffic, and no roads closed for flooding (which given the Mississippi is quite a feat). Considering all that could have gone wrong, we had a relatively event free trip and transitioned rather smoothly into life here in Florida.
So, moral of the story…what seemed like a total pain or ominous sign turned out to be a sign of God’s grace and travelling mercies that we had just prayed for right before leaving Dallas. In the moment it was tempting to think that our prayers had been answered with a “no,” but in hindsight, we got exactly what we prayed for: safe arrival in Orlando and a relatively smooth journey along the way with no major set backs.
Plus, now we live in Florida, which depending on how you look at it is a sign of God’s grace in and of itself.
But more on that as it unfolds…