Serpentine Belts

I was driving home from a long day of Sunday church & youth group. Usually at this time of the day I’m ready for an hour of meaningless television and a beverage. It was already 8:30pm on a Sunday evening of Labor Day weekend, hot, and raining. As I pull up to a red light only 5 minutes from my house, I notice a broken down mini van. For some reason, probably from all the Jesus mojo from the day, I decide to roll down my window and ask if I could help. The reality is that I know NOTHING about cars, but I guess I thought I could be of some use; at the very least I can give the guy a ride somewhere, or call a tow truck. The guy seems to be under control and has a grasp of the situation as his daughter sits in the back of the van. He mentions getting a jump for his dead battery. Of course I don’t have jumper cables, so we agree for him to buy some…but where does one buy jumper cables on a Sunday night on Labor Day weekend?…WAL-MART! I know a lot of my friends have a very valid argument against the ethics of Wal-Mart, but in this case, the 24/7 hours, have it all mentality saved the day…sort of.

We jumped the car, only to also realize that his serpentine belt was off…everything. As he pulled it out, I was amazed that such an object existed in automobiles. It was more like a python than a part of the car. Again, I didn’t have a clue what to do, and he couldn’t figure it out as well, but for some reason I thought of one of the fathers of my students who happens to work in the car-towing world.

It was late. It was his day off. It was his only time with his daughter…and he answers the phone and offers to help. A few minutes later there are five people trying to figure out this automobile riddle in the sprinkling rain on a hot Sunday night in Jupiter, Florida. Long story short, after about two hours the driver was off on his way home with a functioning car and his daughter in the back seat, and I was on my way home, just around the corner, and completely exhausted.

I felt like I had to do something. How many times have I driven past someone on the road and said to myself, ‘If I didn’t have to get somewhere, I’d help him out.’ Yes, I don’t know squat about cars, but I still had to help. And thanks be to God, if my student’s father didn’t answer the phone and offer to help, I’m not sure what would have happened. The guy could have been stranded for DAYS on a holiday weekend, over 50 miles from his home.

The amazing thing for me is how God continues to work through these situations. Yes, the car broke down on a Sunday night, and I didn’t know anything, but God still provided. Not only did I learn about serpentine belts, but I also learned how God continues to move in strangers and friends alike, only to be recognized and then to continue on to the next destination. God was present not only at church on Sunday morning and at youth group on Sunday night, but more importantly, God was present in the compassion and kindness, the humility and trust, of strangers who’s worlds collide on a hot, rainy night on the streets of Jupiter, Florida.


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