There are many profound quotes that pertain to the beginnings of momentous journeys.
For example, Ursula K. Le Guin wrote, “It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” Or, Gloria Gaither who said, “We may run, walk, stumble, drive, or fly, but let us never lose sight of the reason for the journey, or miss a chance to see a rainbow on the way.”
However, not all quotes are as deep or glorious as the ones just read.
Case in point is the journey I experienced as a humble repentant, when I gave a final tug on the strap to further ratchet down the bike rack on the rear of my vehicle and then stood back to admire my packing prowess and state, “Well El Paso or bust.”
Thus the journey began.
Peering through the six windows of the small 1988 Buick Century were all of my earthly possessions. It had all the makings of a Titanic journey doomed from the start. Even well-meaning friends predicted that both car and driver would fall short of their destination, but I knew my heavenly Father had other plans. Besides, if the prospects of traveling 1,695 miles in a rundown automobile, aeronautically tilted at a 15 degree angle and complete with alternative transportation mounted at the rear of the vehicle did not improve one’s prayer life then nothing would.
With a wave of my hand and a push of the accelerator towards the floor of the automobile this journey of a thousand miles and memories commenced.
My rear view mirror reflected a road that was paved with bad financial decisions on my part and accompanying pain and anguish. The consequences of those decisions had resulted in my wife making the difficult, but right choice of action to separate. Her earnest prayer was that I would come to my senses. These tearful prayers coupled with a practical demonstration of repentance and sensibility, paved my journey back to reconciliation.
Through the windshield lay the road ahead and my future. My beginning was beginning.
For the most part the journey was uneventful. Oh, there was the separation of the muffler from the exhaust system. But thanks to the miraculous and alternative use of a wire clothes hanger, the car’s muffler was lifted off of the asphalt and the cool rain provided soothing relief for the burns received when heated metal touches a novice mechanic’s hands.
That night checking into the motel, I was shaking uncontrollably because of my rain soaked clothes. However, the little blessings of life like a hot shower and numerous blankets on the most comfortable bed that I ever slept on before alleviated a lot of this physical discomfort. But, most importantly of all, I slept like I hadn’t slept in quite a while because I was on a restorative journey.
The next day, a muffler shop was found and for a mere $25.00, the muffler was welded permanently into the exhaust system. To this day, I believe the small amount of money charged was due to the fact that the entertainment they received from my situation, the stories told and yet to be told regarding the “Heap they helped” were worth the price of admission.
Surprisingly, the only other mechanical difficulty was the loss of a low beam headlight outside of Tucson, Arizona. It was after hours and when the headlights were needed to light the way, only one headlight was working. Great, I thought, all I need is a ticket from a conscientious State Trooper to add to my financial woes.
Pulling over to the side of the road I went into uncharted territory by lifting the hood of the vehicle. Not only did this area of the car look dirty, but it looked very complicated with all sorts of tubes and wiring. It reminded me of a patient on life support.
Realizing that I just needed to get the headlight working I called once again on my mechanical abilities and began to pound on the headlight thinking that maybe there was a loose filament and that this action would bring the light back to life. Similar to the old days when a TV was simply hit to bring back the picture.
I had no success. However, I did notice that the high beam was working on the front side of the vehicle so I decided to unplug the low beam and connect that same wire and plug to the high beam. Imagine my surprise when this actually worked and helped to illuminate my way home and avoid the lights from a state patrol cruiser.
In reminiscing about that trip I often muse on what others were saying about me as they sped by. Possibly a few laughs were enjoyed at my expense. At least I brightened up their day and shared some of the joy within my being. Possibly some expressions of sympathy at my plight and struggle were felt. If they only could have known how light my heart was, they would have preserved their sympathy for others. Yes, on that trip my fellow travelers saw a burdened down car with an unburdened driver. Like Elisha, I wish their eyes had been opened to see the angels round about me pushing, protecting and praising God for a prodigal driver going home.
That journey was nothing short of miraculous. It began in response to a woman’s prayer, her love, the Grace of God for a repentant, and an unobstructed windshield that only allowed a view of a glorious future—not a rear view mirror reflection of mistakes and regrets.
My takeaways from this adventure are many. But above all, in the light of this experience, I began to understand that when we step out in faith and do the right thing, God honors that act.
I believe that God used this journey to teach and continue to teach that life is a passage replete with adventures and potholes. The adventures strengthen us and the potholes of the road traveled remind us to avoid those potholes by taking a different road.
Born in Toronto, Canada, Brian Aird emigrated with his parents to Chicago, Illinois and eventually enjoyed the small town life of Wausau, Wisconsin.
Upon graduation from high school and one year of study at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, a 10-year commitment of service in the United States Navy was afforded which included many opportunities of education, life experience and travel.
After being honorably discharged from the U.S. Navy, he attended The Salvation Army School for Officer’s Training and was commissioned as an officer in The Salvation Army where he served in various communities throughout the western United States for a period of 12 years.
Following this life changing experience, the American Red Cross became a new arena of service for 10 years. Currently, his vocation is once again with The Salvation Army where he serves in Northern California as the business coordinator. Four lovely children and eight darling grandchildren decorate the lives of he and his wife.
He is an avid Green Bay Packers fan, enjoys the game of hockey and loves to write.
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