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Monday night I’m driving down the road and suddenly my transmission just goes out.

I pull over (thankfully, I was on a back road) and put it in park, waited a second, put it back in drive, and off we go. I think, “Whew. Far out. Don’t know what that was, but glad it’s over.” About half a mile down the road it does it again. The usual sequence of “car trouble” thoughts and emotions begins to run, like this: “What the…?! O no. Doggone it” (this is the G version). Long deep sigh. Try a simple solution. That doesn’t work. Deeper sigh. Battle sweeping resignation, that whole “Why does life have to be so hard?” thing. Finally, I land on, “What am I going to do now?”

What made the trouble move from hassle to crisis was, I was four hours from home. What do I do now?

I put it in reverse, and drove back up the road to the neighbors. Asked if they had any transmission fluid. I’m hoping it’s a fluid issue. The fluid does register low, so I pour some in and limp back to the ranch. Call a local mechanic (he’s an hour away). He can’t even look at it for a week.

Now I’m faced with the dilemma of, “Do I stay here for a week, stranded, or do I try and drive it home and risk a total meltdown on the way, stranding me even further?” I begin to pray, to try and hear from God what I should do. But the drama of the crisis (“O no, I can’t be stuck here a week! And what if the repairs take even longer?! What am I going to do??!!”) is making it hard to hear from God. I find that’s almost always true – I find it really hard to hear from God when I am in high drama.

I try and calm down. Take a walk. I still can’t hear. At this point, I know pushing into hearing from God isn’t going to be helpful, so I do a little work around the place, let an hour or so go by. Settle down. I ask again, “Lord – what should I do? Stay? Try and make it home? What are you saying?” Part of what’s making it hard to hear is the fact that getting stuck here for a week is actually beginning to sound good to me. I get to skip out on life for a week. But the more responsible part of me knows this isn’t the time to cave in, and so I am trying to hear whatever it is God wants to say, and not just “go” with my growing desire to bail on life for a week with a beautiful excuse.

I hear God say, “You’ll make it home.” I said, “Really? Really? Lord, is this you?” “You’ll make it home.”
So, I risked it. Drove gently, didn’t push the transmission hard up the mountain passes, stopped halfway to check the fluid, and made it home. And I think to myself, “What was life like before I knew about hearing from God? I think I just navigated by trying to make good choices.” This is a much better life. God knows, by the way, and it really helps to ask.

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About John

John Eldredge is an author (you probably figured that out), a counselor, and a teacher. He is also president of Ransomed Heart, a ministry devoted to helping people discover the heart of God, recover their own hearts in God's love, and learn to live in God's Kingdom. John met his wife, Stasi, in high school.... READ MORE

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