Monday, September 29, 2008

How Do You Gauge What's Left in Your Tank?

Oh yeah…this September, I was meeting deadlines and ready to head up to Michigan to lead two retreats with Dick Swenson, MD and Elise Arndt at Camp Arcadia! By the time I pack the car… I’m tossing files and food into paper bags. Want to hit the road. I skip filling up the gas tank to save time. An hour later I’m tooling along Route 55 North to Chicago at a decent clip, making great time, just outside of Lincoln, IL. As I pass an 18-wheeler I start to slow down and he keeps going. Did my engine die? The car only has 45,000 miles. I pulled to a stop, just inches off the road. My car’s control panel assured me of 89 miles left in the tank! Was it the battery? After 15 minutes of trying to start up, I was starting to give up. A concerned State Police Officer approached. “Are you out of fuel?” I pointed to the gauge…89 miles. “Do you feel safe? Have you called for help?” Well, “I guess I feel safe…with YOU standing there! Do you think it’s safe being this close to the highway while I wait?” He, “You should be fine.” So I waved cheerily, “ I know you have bigger fish to fry…thanks for stopping.”

I had doubts about how safe I was when, for 90 minutes, tons of trucks brushed past, shaking my car. It was like sitting on one of those vibrating motel beds we put a quarter into when we were kids. Inside my head questions and answers were vibrating, too! Was I safe, really? “Be anxious for nothing.” I thanked God for guardian angels. This scenario could have turned out differently if my car had died with a truck barreling down on me, for instance. What a total waste of TIME! Don’t miss the moment, there’s a lesson here. What if my tank was empty? Why didn’t I fill up like I always do before a trip because it’s cheaper at home and saves time in the end? That debate took up a good part of the wait! Should I get out and walk into the thistles and milkweed full of flying things? No. Make that nnn—n-n-n-no o o…I’m vibrating, remember? So I took a little nap, practicing tips from the sleep deprivation show. I’d be up really late anyway, with this delay, and needed to be sharp enough to anticipate Michigan deer at midnight!

At last, the tow truck arrives…borrowed from the set of “Cars!” The guy hoists my car. I hop into the front seat like hundreds of smokers had in similar situations on the side of the road. Hey…breathe smoke or stay by the road…easy choice. The driver had done this for 23 years, and knew his stuff. We get to the garage, now open for only 20 more minutes. No motel next door. I mentally plan to spend the night in my tilted back front seat. Maybe they could haul me back to the side of Route 55 to get that motel bed vibrato feeling…just ‘til morning!

I love helpful people who know and like their jobs! This garage was full of ‘em! During the 15 minutes I sat in the waiting area, I learned the unbreakable rule that I could not use their office computer (as much as they wanted to break the rule). A friendly office woman explained if I had to stay overnight for repairs, they would take me across town to a motel. When she discovered my Michigan destination, she put two and two together and came up with the Woman to Woman® show! She brought her husband into the waiting area to meet me. He said someone else had broken down on the highway two weeks before headed to Arcadia, MI and he’d asked if they knew me. Yes, they did. And of all things, here I was. Wasn’t that remarkable? In two weeks to have that happen! I agreed. We were having a good ole time in the garage waiting room expecting any minute to hear about my car. At last, a good natured chap entered, “Mrs. Wallace, I have good news and I have bad news.” Bad news: The discriminating sensor is malfunctioning. It’s a prejudiced sensor failing to play fair with the other sensors. The good news: all you need is a fill up because you’re on empty, but your gauge didn’t know that. Have a nice trip! And don’t believe your gauge until you can have it replaced.

What a relief and not a dime spent…thanks to the warranty up to 50,000 mi. My little nap carried me over into the wee hours. I did fuel up a lot on the way! The gauge is now replaced and I fill up before trips. I trust the gauge, but I don’t run it as low as I used to. Funny thing. I actually enjoy travel more now!

How’s your gauge? Cutting it close between departure and arrival? What are you trusting on the way to your destination? Guesswork? Blind luck? Things’ll work out? It’s all up to me? If you’re ignoring close calls, check your gauge. If you get sidelined, don’t panic. I have a phone number for you, not the one I called for a tow. But it will do that, too! It’s God’s phone number! At least that’s how I used to describe it to my kids. A really smart man in the Bible named Jeremiah, wrote down this advice from God to people stuck on empty, with broken gauges. “Call on Me in the day of trouble and I will answer you and tell you many things which you do not know!”

If your gauge needs replacing, I hope you run into friendly, helpful types who know what they’re doing and like it! Stay tuned to Woman to Woman and keep coming back to this blog and my website for fillups and gauge checks! Mainly, call God’s phone number. He doesn’t hang up on you. His 'God Squad' of angels do His bidding in your behalf. He even clears your mind when you’re on empty about what to do.

I’m coming off a Summer that filled up my “tank!” My “gauge” is accurate. As I head into Fall and Winter, I’d like to sustain that secure feeling of being filled up! I’ve exercised outdoors, hung out with friends I only see in Summer, enjoyed picking/buying/preparing/ putting up fresh fruits and vegetables. I’ve intentionally sat by a lake in the quiet of the morning or in the setting sun to ponder Bible verses and talk with God and ultimately to be quiet and listen to the thoughts He sends back into my head. Can I do this in Fall and Winter? The variables change. Outdoor exercise..not so much. Friends, lake, abundance of fresh fruit/veggies lessens. But the variable of “God with us!” doesn’t change. He’s always there to set my gauge and fill my tank with whatever is needed to fuel my situation. After all, we’re not in this alone!

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