Thursday, May 30, 2013

Other Than That We Had A Really Good Afternoon...

Life is good.  Some  things are gooder than others.  Awesome barbeque is way up on my list of reasons to get up in the morning.  And thus we were off on an adventure last Friday.  You might call it "Ron and Debbie's Most Excellent Adventure Gone Bad."  The target of our journey?  Pappy's Barbeque in St. Louis.  World famous (not really, but they think they are.)  Incredibly delicious (true, if you eat the ribs.)  Worth the hour long wait (uhhhhhh ... no.  I can only think of a few things in life worth an hour long wait.  But then I'm not known as "Captain Impatience" for nothing.)

After we annihilated our barbeque we returned to Emma the Mustang, pulled out of the parking lot, and began the return trip across the river to our Illinois homestead.  We drove down Olive Blvd. and a "pop... pop, pop, pop" interrupted our conversation.  The neighborhood was not dangerous but Debbie asked me "gun fire?"  I honestly couldn't say that it wasn't.  It had that same semi-distorted sound that you get outdoors when you are near, but not at, a shooting range.  Another mile down the road we heard it again.  So it could not be gunfire.  It had to be car related.  Emma was running smoothly.  Nothing seemed to be amiss.

I steered the Mustang onto the interstate and realized we were in the heart of traffic fleeing the city at the beginning of the Memorial Day weekend.  "POP...POP, POP, POP!"  Our wheels were back on Illinois turf having just run out of runway on the Martin Luther King bridge.  "POP..."  you get the idea.  And then ... whoa.  All of the instruments on my dash went gonzo.  The speedometer, tachometer, and all of those lesser gauges were alternately burying themselves at maximum power or falling to a terminal zero.  And every time it went to zero I lost all power from the engine.  That would last a couple of seconds and the next "POP" would restore power.  We were on a sports car teeter-totter.

Emma The Mustang 
And did I mention that we were in heavy traffic in East St. Louis?  Because that played prominently in my thinking.  This went on for perhaps ten minutes with no reprieve.  I was just coaxing it along knowing that this really wasn't a good place to stop and, hey, that truck coming up behind me is certainly going faster than my 35mph.  The convertible top was down and it was getting hot. And something smelled hot.  As casually as I could I mentioned to Debbie that she might want to unbuckle her seatbelt and be ready to jump out if the car burst into flames.  At the moment that scenario did not seem so far fetched.

And finally the power from the engine got so weak that I did the only thing I could do, making a bit of an impromptu exit across two lanes of traffic and onto St. Clair Avenue.  The car kept running.  It began to idle normally.  (People watched from a distance.) I considered turning it off and letting it cool down but in exchange for that opportunity other things might heat up.  (People watched from a LESSER distance.)  That seemed like a bad deal.  I eyed the entrance ramp back on to I-64.  I know Debbie was trying to figure out what I was doing (so was I) as I dropped Emma into gear and dove back into traffic.  Forty-five breathless minutes later, after numerous exits and attempts to get out of the busy rush of homeward bound vehicles, we turned into our driveway.  I backed out again and parked in front of our house.  We got out and I hit the button to lock the doors.  It didn't work.  I hit the horn.  Nothing.  I turned the ignition.  Dead as a hair brush.  Oh, wow.  I thought about how close I had come to turning the engine off on that East St. Louis exit ramp.  Kind of glad I didn't do that.

Before I went into the house I glanced under the hood.  Did I mention I got a "C-" in Auto Shop back in high school?  And that was for simply working on a lawn mower engine.  After confirming the engine was still there, "hmmm"ing a few times and grabbing the occasional engine part so Debbie would be impressed, I went into the house.

I spent the first part of the weekend trying to figure out which mechanic to use on my sure to be thousands-of-dollars repair.  I mentioned to God that I really appreciated Him having bailed us out on the drive home and I would do my best to follow His lead on the upcoming repair.  And then Sunday came and I walked out to Emma, opened the door with a key, popped the hood and look underneath.  It took my trained eye (sic) all of five seconds to notice ... the positive battery cable was off.


I put the cable back on.  I hit the button the remote on my keychain.  The door locked.  I hit the "panic button."  The horn worked.  I started the car.  I drove for half an hour.

Perfect.  Perfect.

I have no idea how the battery cable came off.  That doesn't just happen.  But it did.  And it was bouncing around hitting the battery terminal every time it swung back and forth.  When it hit the terminal the battery would pop and the car would start, restoring power.  When it would swing away from the terminal there was not enough power from the alternator to keep things going and the engine would actually die (or lose all power while coming very close to dying.  Hey... I'm not a mechanic. I'm guessing here. Remember?)  All of this trouble for a loose bolt and a popped cable.

I've been thinking about all of that this week.  No real harm was done.  Unless you count our adrenal system which is still trashed.  Debbie wakes up in the middle of the night screaming "Give me more power, Scotty!"  But in talking this through with God He has pointed something out.  The same thing happens to my life that happened to my car.  Sometimes I come "unplugged" from God.  He still loves me.  I'm still saved.  Heaven is still on my itinerary.  But I lose all power.  And then I swing back and "POP!" I get back in my groove.  For a day or two.  And then along comes another swing to the left and I come unplugged again.  No power.

How very sad.  God created me to run on a steady diet of direction and energy that He provides for me when I stay closely connected to Him.  But sometimes I forget and I think I am doing it all myself.  I think I'm really smart.  And I think I'm really in control.  And all of the good things that I see God do ... I think they are getting done because I'm so very good at what I do and at just being who I am.

How silly.  How stupid.  I cannot do anything of eternal worth unless empowered by the Spirit planted in me by my Father.  I am reminded of what Paul said to the "foolish Galatians" in Galatians 3.  "How foolish can you be? After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort?  Have you experienced so much for nothing? Surely it was not in vain, was it?"

Oh, foolish Ron.  Get it together.  You've been on this journey with Jesus for a long, long, time.  Do you really think you are running on your own power?  You might want to rethink that, big fella...  Or, as Dr.  Phil says, "How's that working for ya?"

Not so good.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Loving 'Em All

I'm still learning.

I began my foray into my  "Love 'Em All" plan days ago.  The idea was to write every day about an encounter I manufactured during the day to bless or restore someone, loving them while lifting myself out of a bit of an emotional slump.  It sounded like a good idea at the time.  But today I hear the electronic voice of reason screaming in my ear, "ABORT!  ABORT!  ABORT!"

It's not hard finding people to love and bless.  It is very hard to write in a way that is non-embarrassing to them.  Most, though not all, of the people I've tripped over and worked to bless are people I know.  That means they may well read this blog.  And if I bless them only to hurt them, well, that's not a good idea.  Know what I mean?

So I am continuing my "Love 'Em All" journey but I won't be writing about it unless it's a unique opportunity and will not cause anyone pain.

Just thought you might want to know.  The lesson is ... love well.  But keep it to yourself.  Most of the time.