During the late 1990’s, until 2002, my now late wife Laura and I were very involved in a ministry of testimony and music, plus she would demonstrate what her ‘service dog’ Roxi did for her before The Lord healed her from a severe neuromuscular disease. We were mostly speaking in churches, but also service clubs, nursing homes, even some private-and public schools invited us to come share. I believe we accepted all the invitations we received-as long as we weren’t restricted with what we could say-because, there was no one on earth to give the Glory and credit to for what had happened in our lives…..only God! But…..Even when we are serving God, and we may even have a unique ministry…..we can still get weary and burned-out. Sometimes we just need a rest….. sometimes we need a refresher of some sort!
After Laura was healed from that disease, I don’t think she needed a rest….. she was usually “doing life” at 90 MPH—trying to make up for lost time, plus she was just “bursting with energy” as she used to put it! There were times though, when I think it would get a little discouraging for her. Why? Because, up to four times a week she would pour her heart out in testimony, explaining how she didn’t have anything to do with the “miracle of healing“-it was only God-and no one else….. only to have people come up after the programs asking her “what she did to get healed”! We also chose never to debate with someone about what they believe in regards to miracles happening today….. because we soon found out that people are ‘all over the place’ on that. One of the most confusing things to me was when we would meet someone who said “God doesn’t heal people today.” To a comment like that, I’m glad I had a quote from one of Laura’s Doctors:”You either have to call it a miracle or just shrug your shoulders.” So I’m okay with calling It a miracle!
So, back to the weary or burned-out part….. After we had been doing the testimony programs for almost two years, we were scheduled to do one at my parents church in Norwich NY, and nearby at the country church where I grew up. It was summertime and traffic would be heavy, so I called ahead and made hotel reservations-just outside of Buffalo, so that the last few hours of the drive would be easy, and hopefully we’d get there rested and refreshed! Well….. Laura really didn’t want to go on this trip….. we had an unusually ‘bad’ testimony program that week, and it had left her just wanting to stay home and do nothing!
But we went…..the night in the hotel was rather quiet…..because Laura was quiet. We started off in the morning…..pulled out onto the Thruway….. “should only be a little over three hours” I said….. Suddenly! Boom! Now I’m fighting the car as it’s very hard to control……I manage to coast to the shoulder and come to a stop. I notice the right front fender sagging slightly…..I said: “I think we just had a blow-out”. Laura didn’t say anything….. She just started crying-and she rarely cried over ‘things’-I guess she was finally “done” emotionally.
The trunk was carefully packed with our amplifiers, and other equipment…..I dreaded the thought of unloading everything to get to the spare—plus I now have a crying wife to comfort! I silently cried a prayer for help! I remembered that since the car was still under warranty, it had “Roadside Assistance“…… I couldn’t believe it……I was only several miles from the hotel—but no cel service! Just as I’m about to get out to get started, I see a white car pull up behind us. It looks like a man, a woman and a boy in the car…..Laura started wiping her eyes and I told her I was getting out—as she told me to be careful…..
I was met with three smiling faces…..the man introduced himself as ‘Jesus’ (Hispanic pronunciation), his wife and boy-who appeared to be about 7 years old. He said: “We saw the Miracles Happen license plate on the front of your car and thought you must be Christians. And I also thought maybe I could help you with your flat tire.” He helped me unload everything, and with the ‘donut’ tire—that was my first time using one of those.
While we were working on all of that…..his wife and boy and Laura were all talking, laughing and having a wonderful time! (I was thinking….. he doesn’t know what a Godsend he and his family are as I heard Laura laughing) When we loaded everything back into the car, Jesus said the spare doesn’t have much air in it, so he’d follow me because there was a service plaza just seven miles up the road-and they have a service bay where there’s a man working who could plug my tire. I thought okay, thank you Lord for sending me someone so friendly and helpful and knows the area so well!
As we arrived at the service plaza, sure enough! There was a man working in the full service bay—with no one waiting-amazing for a Friday morning in the summer! He checked out the tire and said: “It’s going to be close. I’ll put in the biggest plug I have, it might last for two hours or two months, you never know.” So….. with the tire fixed and back on the car, Jesus said: “It will get you there okay, but get a couple of good used ones for the front, go to a small tire store-they’ll have what you need.” (When he said that I remember thinking, that’s strange, because he doesn’t even know where we’re going!) We said goodbye, thanked them-offered him money, but he refused. I shook their hands, Laura hugged them, and as they were pulling away waving…..Jesus said: “I know we’ll talk again someday!” I thought how? We didn’t exchange phone numbers or addresses….. I had asked him where he was from and he said he had been serving God mostly on the east coast lately….. We followed them for about a mile….. then they pulled around a semi trailer to pass it.
They were waving as they went out of view from around the trailer. So, I decided to follow them….. just to see how long we could stay together….. As I pulled around the back of that semi….. a sudden chill went all the way up my spine….. there was no white car in sight-and I had almost a mile of clear road ahead! We looked at each other and couldn’t say a word….. Then I remembered my quick prayer for help….. did God send an angel to help me and encourage Laura?
”Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it!” Hebrews 13:2 (NLT)
Then we started thinking about some of the things he said, like when he pulled up from behind and said he saw our plate on the front of our car…… He offered to help with my flat tire—yet I hadn’t even gotten out of the car, and when I did, I noticed that from behind it didn’t look like anything was wrong with the car……Then I kept thinking about that service plaza! How did he know there was a man there who could plug my tire-and even that it had a full service bay….many don’t!
We arrived at my parents house with no problem that day, and the next morning—a Saturday—my father went with me to a “small tire store” in a nearby town. A friend I had grown up with was the owner/operator of the store, and I recognized him even though it had been over 20 years since I’d seen him. I said: “Hi Wayne!” He said: “Hey Steve, how ya been”….. He came out and looked at the tires on my car….. paused…… and said “give me just a few minutes, I’ve got just what you need out back.” He went out in back of his shop, digging through old tires….. and he comes in with two….. (Now, my car only had 12,000 miles on it, so the tires had very little wear) Wayne had two tires that were the exact same brand as mine! He said he had taken all four tires off a car and replaced them— when the car had only 12,000 miles on it! He said the customer didn’t like that brand of tires and wanted the brand that he sold……Wayne sold those two to me for $10 each-mounted, and they lasted until I traded that car a few years later!
Nothing went according to plan….. But, yes it did go exactly as planned….. God’s plan!
”The mind of man plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.”
Proverbs 16:9 (NASB)
Till Next Time…..