In case you’ve been lost in the wilderness the last month or so, the last couple of weeks I’ve been talking about the book that I’m a collaborative author in. 365 Moments of Grace published on June 21, 2016 and became a near-instant international best seller, much to my surprise and delight!
The book is full of stories of grace: everyday grace, inspirational grace, unexpected grace, and miraculous grace. (I’m particularly fond of my story on page 38. 😉 )
But that is not the “grace” that I was surprised by, that I’m writing about today.
About a week ago, a few days before the book came out, my boyfriend and I planned a hiking trip with some new church friends up to Tent Rocks in north central New Mexico. The day was forecast to reach 100 degrees or a bit higher, so we planned an early start, to get there before the day got too hot.
As we were driving on the freeway at 75 mph, I heard and felt something “clunk” against my feet. “What was that?” I wondered. I hadn’t remembered seeing any debris on the road.
My boyfriend changed lanes to pass a slow-moving vehicle, then moved back to the right. “Clunk” again. Now, this was weird. I’d been watching and definitely didn’t see anything at all on the road that time.
“Clunk” a third time. I looked at my boyfriend with concern. “What was that?” I asked. “I didn’t see anything on the road.” Neither had he, though he was already slowing, to around 65, as other cars passed us.
About that time we started to feel an occasional shaking in the front wheels. “It’s been doing that after I go over a bump on the highway,” I told him. “I guess I should get it checked out. Maybe I lost a wheel weight.”
The shaking was intermittent, but worse at higher speeds. My boyfriend began slowing down even more.
Then, the shaking intensified. I had been clueless as to what was going on, and thought that he was being overly cautious by slowing and beginning to pull over. “What is it?” I asked.
“Gonna find out,” he responded, as he pulled well off the shoulder into the dirt alongside the freeway.
I wish I’d thought to take a photo while the tire was still on the car. Big, huge chunks of tread of the tire directly beneath my feet had been shed like an old snakeskin, and the sidewall on the outside edge was completely broken through.
“Wow!” I thought, and began getting the jack out while he unmounted the spare.
If I’d been thinking, I would have taken photos for the “How to Change a Tire” lesson I should probably put up here, but it didn’t occur to me until much, much later. And, of course, I’d just “looked” at the spare when I checked the air in my tires and it “looked” okay, but the tire turned out to be quite low on air…not nearly enough air to drive on. Another point to remember for my “Basic Auto Maintence” freebie.
So, while my boyfriend walked a mile back to the nearest exit to locate some compressed-air “fix a flat,” I made a mental note to put my little case of emergency gear back in the Jeep…emergency gear that included an air pump. And, I took the tire’s photo before wrestling it into the back.
With two cans of fix a flat, the spare tire was still low, but driveable. We drove slowly to the next exit and its gas station, and inflated all the tires to spec.
“Want to still go hiking?” my boyfriend asked.
We were about ten minutes away from our destination then, and all the tires seemed okay.
“Sure,” I said. “We’re nearly there.”
So, we still got to go on our hike. And, we ran into our friends in the parking lot (not literally) as they were leaving and we were arriving, and they got to hear the whole story.
So, what was the issue with the tires? I had assumed UV exposure, as we live a mile up in the high desert where the sun is strong and hard on rubber. The tires still looked nearly new, with about 2/3rds of their tread. But when I took the Jeep in a few days later, I was shocked: it was age. The tires were 16 years old.
16! Most only last three to five years. Wow.
Then I thought of all the road trips we’ve taken, high speeds and at night and in remote locations, on tires well past their use-by date. California once or twice. Arkansas and Missouri another time. Seattle. The Texas Coast. Sometimes on freeway, but often on skinny mountain roads with dropoffs, or remote county roads without much traffic.
All those trips where a tire might have blown out at high speed without warning, perhaps when I was driving instead of my stronger, more capable boyfriend – or even my son, on one of the trips.
And that was when I realized that this was another moment of grace. A bunch of extended moments of grace, really, over the course of several years: that nothing bad had happened, and that I hadn’t even been aware of the extent of the danger until we were safely parked and had gotten out of the car that day.
“Surprised by Grace” – God’s grace – that had kept us safe on the road the last few years.
Three years of everyday grace that kept us safe. And I gave thanks.
I want to thank you, too, for visiting my site today, if this is your first visit. I am continually adding content and courses, with a lot of basic information available for free. Additionally, I offer one on one private lessons for the most rapid learning possible, online via Skype or Zoom.