08 November 2013

Praying for cars

Although I have been known to pray for cats, the title here is not a typo. And the prayer was slightly more complicated than the "please help me find a parking spot" type for which Christians are sometimes made fun of.

During our trip to Canada, I borrowed my father's car. Although most of the time I was using it to visit friends and family, I also had a couple of appointments and some errands to run. While Matthijs had run into a bookstore to pick up some books, I stayed in the car to pull something off my computer to print off. I was a bit stressed and  not so organised, so my communication skills were not working at their best. While Matthijs was happily browsing the unexpected section of superdiscounted books, thinking he had lots of time while I actually ran my errand, I was sitting in the car wondering why he didn't return faster so I could get on with the errand. Knowing myself and Matthijs as I do, it seemed wise to go meet/find him instead of getting more impatient in the car. We sorted out the miscommunication and returned to the vehicle ready to head off to the next stop.

Except the car wouldn't start. I couldn't get the key to turn.

This isn't the first time I'd borrowed the car, so I did remember my father having once mentioned something about what to do if this ever happened. But I had no idea what it was. And so I sat there trying not to panic and trying to figure out how to start the car. I started praying pretty quick. We pulled out the car manual. We could find nothing. Calling my father was an option, but with international (dutch) cell phone rates at about 10 dollars a minute, and no idea where a payphone was, it was more of a last resort than the obvious thing to do.

Matthijs suggested I go into the bookstore to see if anyone could help me. I approached a gentleman my father's age and one of the cashiers. Neither was familiar with the problem. Nor did they have any idea how to help me. I returned to the car, still praying.

We'd now been trying to fix the problem for 15 minutes. The schedule for the day was a bit tight, and I was beginning to get a bit nervous about how it'd all work out. I was thus very much hoping that God would answer my "I'm beginning to get desperate" prayers sooner rather than later.

As I was sitting in the driver's seat feeling helpless, a young college student came up to the car. He had heard my question in the bookstore and thought perhaps he knew what to do. He had spent the summer working at a rental car place and was familiar with the situation where the key wouldn't turn. Some wiggling of the steering wheel and the key, and the car started. He explained that I'd probably jostled the steering wheel too often while it was off, and this had locked up the system. I, meanwhile, was doing my best not to burst out in hallelujahs and kiss the young man (Matthijs would have understood). Instead, I merely thanked him profusely. And I thanked God for answered prayer and the unexpected joy of once again getting to experience the kindness of strangers.

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