“God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.” -Romans 8:28
At any moment I expected to see Dorothy Gale’s house from The Wizard of Oz fly by. The wind was blowing so fiercely I thought my van and I would soon be lifted off the freeway. It was at the second rest stop on my way home from a speaking event that I realized I had driven 80 miles in the wrong direction. I was now over 400 miles from my home in International Falls, Minn.
I yelled aloud. I got out of the van and screamed into the whipping wind. Then I got back in and thought about my choices.
Here’s the thing. For us to receive the lesson and blessing in a trial, and to make it count,
we need to ask God to show us what’s redeemable. There’s no fun in complaining and being crabby, so I chose to ask God to show me the “good” of my error in driving so far in the wrong direction. A simple way to ask God to bless and teach us in the hard place is to simply pray, “God, make it count.”
So I exhaled, prayed, and got back on the freeway. I had barely started my new journey when I heard this weird flapping sound. I pulled over and saw that the plastic splash-guard-thing on the front left tire was coming unhinged. I figured it didn’t look like too much of a problem and I could drive until I found an exit where someone at a gas station could help me.
I sped on, but it soon appeared that the plastic thing was coming unhinged entirely and I was now dragging a long black plastic piece of “van tongue” down the freeway. Passing cars pointed and mouthed, “Something is falling apart on your van.”
“Yep. I know,” I nodded. And I carried on, albeit a bit slower.
I finally pulled over, only because I saw a trucker-man who was trying to fix one of the straps that had come loose on his cargo. I parked my van on the side of the freeway about 20 feet in front of the man, who was named Ray, and asked him to follow me so I could show him the situation.
It was hard not to laugh as we walked to my van. The wind made it not only hard to hear as I tried to explain my problem, but Ray’s flannel shirt kept blowing up to expose his belly. It was funny. I was having fun.
When Ray saw my problem, he said, “I can help you.” He walked back to his truck to get tools and returned to remove the entire splash-guard-thing. While he laid on the ground working, I talked and talked. I found out everything I could in the time I had. He told me about his travels, marriages, the adventurous weather he’d experienced, his dreams, and how proud he
was of his children. We became fast friends.
When Ray finished, he handed me the “van tongue” and I thanked him a million times over. He told me that it was the first time in 15 years he had ever been stopped like this by someone asking for help.
“It’s a good thing it was me and not someone else,” Ray assured. “You’re a lucky little lady. Not all truckers would have helped you in this way.”
I didn’t have any cash, so I gave him one of the CDs I sell at speaking events: “Here ya go, Ray. This is a CD of short inspirational stories of how God is involved in Everyday Matters,”
I said. “Perhaps your wife will enjoy it.”
I was sitting in the driver’s seat and Ray was standing outside my window when I handed him the CD. He looked at it with my picture and name and then looked at me again, startled, and said, “You’re Debbie Griffith? You’re Debbie Griffith on the radio . . . Debbie Griffith?”
“Yes, that’s me,” I said.
“I can’t believe it!” continued Ray. “I’ve heard you a dozen or so times while driving on the freeway in my truck. I just can’t believe it’s really you -- here -- right now.”
Ray then started to cry.
“I’ve walked away from God so many times and every time I think He’s done with me, something like this happens to remind me He’s still got my back,” he said.
I then told Ray how I wasn’t even supposed to be on this stretch of freeway, and I thought I must have gone at least 80 miles in the wrong direction.
We both were speechless for a second or so. Then I said: “Ray! This is so cool! God is so awesome. Think about it. God knew you needed to know He hadn’t given up on you. He hasn’t left you and He loves you like crazy. I’m just so blessed that I got the opportunity to remind you.”
I extended my arms out the van window and held onto Ray’s arms as I prayed for him.
“Dear God, thank You that You showed up today in a powerful way to remind Ray how much You love him. I pray for his wife and family and for Ray to continue to walk toward You and trust all the wonderful things You have for him. Amen.”
Ray wiped his eyes, thanked me, and I thanked him a million more times. As he turned back to his truck, I saw him shake his head and mutter, “Debbie Griffith on the freeway... wait until the wife hears.”
These kinds of everyday life matters bring me such joy, and it makes me think all over again how God wants all of us to know how much He cares about everything we care about. He longs for you to know His great love for you.
This column is a regular feature of the Detroit Lakes Tribune's monthly Faith page. Debbie Griffith is a Detroit Lakes-born speaker, radio personality and writer who now resides in International Falls, Minn.