Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Tires and Trials

We were on a car trip just recently when we had a gnarly tire blowout. We were going full speed on the freeway when a front tire literally exploded.

Within one moment we found ourselves in the middle of a dangerous situation. Suddenly, it was really hard to control the car as it began to pull us all over the place; I muscled it best I could to the shoulder while running on the rim with smoke and tire bits flying everywhere.

We were glad to have made it to the shoulder but we were now stuck on the side of the freeway. The exploded tire had wedged itself in the wheel well and was stuck, while cars came whizzing by fast and close so there was no way to work on it ourselves. So we sat there waiting for the tow truck, which finally showed up over an hour later.

The mechanic who worked on the car after getting it towed, said: "You're very lucky to be safe after that. Many times cars roll, or spin out, or get hit by another car, with that kind of blow out.” I told him it was more than luck, I said, “It was the grace and mercy of God."

Well, after some more fun times hanging out and waiting around for hours for the car to be done, we finally got back on the road. We were a little shocked by the bill, we had to buy two new tires since the other front one got messed up too.

We were hoping everything was fine now after we finally got going again; however, as we went along, a small transmission leak became progressively more severe after the blowout.

While driving through the desert in the middle of the night, we discovered that the transmission was now severely leaking, not the kind of place or time you want to discover such news. We turned back to a motel we’d seen and just happened to get their very last room for the night.

Used For Good

All the stress of the situation caused us to call out to God when we got into the room. His presence suddenly swept over us with great power. All three of us, were brought forth into an incredible outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the middle of the night that was so powerful, it was mind blowing! God met us in such an intense, intimate, and healing way, it was just overwhelming as His presence swept over us with such grace.

We realized the Lord had His hand on us in spite of the situation. A revelation came that He was using it for good even though it was a trial with one car problem after another. It was such an awesome encounter that we were just caught up in His presence.

The next morning more divine intervention took place as we had a divine appointment at the motel and we ended up leading a woman to the Lord:

She was a worker at the place and started talking to us while we were eating breakfast. After a bit of conversation with her, I felt the leading of the Spirit to share the Gospel with her. Though she had a Catholic background she said she had never heard the Gospel in all the years there, rather was just told to do rituals that she said had become empty and meaningless in the end.

We shared the Gospel with her and told her that God desired a personal relationship with her and Christ had paid for her sins on the cross. She understood as we shared that she needed to receive Christ. We told her that we would pray with her to do so if she wanted.

She said she would like to do that and so we prayed with her, right there in the breakfast room, to receive Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior.

She had quite the smile on her face afterwards as the Lord filled and touched her heart and it was awesome to see how the Lord had entered into her life.

Back to Earth

After all this encountering God at every turn in the previous hours, it was like falling back down to earth as it came time to leave and face up to the reality of our car problem.

Fluid was leaking out of the transmission in a significant way when we turned the engine on. What to do? I certainly didn't want to get stuck at some “highway robbery car repair shop” out there in the middle of nowhere, which would likely hit us with another large bill and maybe have us stuck for days. Towing home would be outrageous from this distance too.

We were at the end of our trip and felt we just needed to get the car back home and deal with it there, we just gotta cross the desert and drive some 230 miles to do it.

We prayed for an answer and felt we should pour in some more fluid and just go for it and start heading back. To our surprise, it was holding out ok as we drove, that is until we hit some hills…

As it shifted gears through the hills, warnings came from the car system. We pulled over, put some more fluid in, and prayed in tongues over it as we continued on. The stress level became quite high as I surveyed the vast expanse of empty desert before us while the car continued giving warnings. I thought, “This is what ship captains must feel in the middle of the sea when the boat starts having trouble.” As I looked out into that vast expanse I felt my heart fall into my stomach.

About this time, thoughts began hitting: “Was this a big mistake? Are we gonna get stuck in the middle of nowhere?”

As those heavy thoughts hit, a song came over the speakers: it was Amazing Grace. As we travelled through the middle of the empty expanse, the line unfolded: “Through many dangers, toils, and snares, I have already come, ‘tis grace has led me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.”

The Spirit of God fell in power and His comfort was poured down upon my heart! The Lord began reminding me of many trials he’d brought us through, for example:

Stuck in horrible blizzards in the Sierras, the Rockies, in Iceland, and by God’s grace making it through.

Stuck in the hot desert in the middle of summer on another occasion with another car that was overheating and we made it through!  Every ounce of water, however, was drained from us physically, as we had to keep the heater on in the 100+ temperatures to alleviate the overheating engine.

Another time way south of the border we ran out of gas in the middle of nowhere and a friend somehow just showed up not knowing our situation. He happened to be carrying a 10-gallon jug of gas that he gave us in our time of need; we both knew it was a divine appointment.

I remembered times where God had miraculously supplied money, like one time when we were so broke, I didn't even have money to get some food. I went surfing to forget about the trial,  and while in the water sitting on my board, a five dollar bill floated straight to me coming from out at sea. I grabbed it realizing how miraculous it was! We got some Del Taco tacos that night,  and we were glad for at least something, but more amazed at how it had been supplied!

I remembered all these trials and more we’ve come through, and the Lord ministered grace and comfort, yet meanwhile the car kept giving warnings and flipping out while the desert still lay before us….

Having come through many trials and seeing miracles and divine intervention many times before, some might think it is no problem when you're yet in the middle of another trial.

However, each trial, situation, need, step of faith, mission trip, etc., has its own set of circumstances. Though faith rises and comfort is given by the presence of God, you still have mountains to climb and feel the burn in your legs as you climb. Presently, the car was still issuing warnings, acting weird, and leaking fluid, and we still had the expanse of desert before us with many a mile to go.

It is as the Bible says, “we have been seated in heavenly places,” and that is true theologically in the realm of the Kingdom. Yet we are at the same time still dwelling here on this fallen earth with this frail flesh, which the Bible also talks about. It holds both things together as true in a dialectical tension.

Thus, even though you may sweat and bite your nails in the midst of a trial, at the same time you pray and believe, praying both with your mind and natural understanding and praying in the Spirit as well.

Sweating and biting your nails is not an act of unbelief; rather it is the natural, flesh, man, reacting to stressful, trying circumstances. Some religious people want to brag that they don't feel anything during trials but they’re just good at hiding how they feel. Like the Pharisees, they want to make a big show of how great they are, not how great Christ is.

The apostle Paul gives us a good example of personal honesty with the state of our weak, natural, side of ourselves, when he says: “ I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses so Christ’s power may rest on me.” (2Cor. 12:9) Wow! Paul says he’ll boast about his weaknesses even more so that God’s power may rest on him even all the more.

Not something you hear much these days. One thing that seems to be lacking in the Body of Christ, especially in charismatic circles, is a good dose of humility! I think we need a refresher in the realities of the Word, for it is: Christ who overcomes, Christ who paid the price, Christ who rose again, and it is He alone who is to be glorified, not fallen man!

Well, after that touch from above during Amazing Grace, I knew now, one way or another, God would get us home, just how so was still a question.

We finally reached the end of the desert, a welcome sight. I understood why sailors who’ve been through a storm at sea kiss the ground when they finally hit land.

We still had freeway to go on and the problem was still there but the heaviest part was now behind us, hallelujah!

As we finished the rest of the drive, pouring in fluid periodically, we finally made it home!

As I walked in through the front door, I happened to see the words of an old hymn over in a corner, and the Holy Spirit fell on me and filled me with His power and I felt His presence as I reflected: Surely His hand rested upon us as he carried us through that desert and brought us safely home!

(We still have some repairs to make to of our vehicle. If you would like to contribute to help us out click here. Thank you!)

Video: Humble Beginnings -- Erik Jannson, who spent some time in the mission trenches with us, talks about our early days in ministry, as he's interviewed by pastor David Sloane.