• Jim Farrell

Plans, Tires and Proverbs

Over the course of your days, how often do you find yourself trying to make something happen or go a certain personally preferred way? For the most part we have been taught to organize, to prepare, and to plan in order to produce the best possible outcome of what we put our hand to do, and there is certainly nothing wrong with that. But someone has said, life is what happens when you make other plans. Do you understand that there is something more going on?

Kathy and I are full time living in our Beacon 5th wheel, traveling the country, seeing amazing sights and places in the USA, and meeting some wonderful people along the way. This way of “doing life” has a great adventure element to it, but from time to time it tests the premise of personal organization, preparation, and planning. We have definitely experienced the “something more going on."

For example, most recently we were parked in a small RV park outside of Greenwood, SC, visiting friends who live there. “Our plan” was to arrive on the Friday before Labor Day and leave Monday to go to our RV service center in Tishomingo, MS, about 500 miles west. “Our plan” was to make the drive west in two days. The service center was scheduled to attend to a list of fixes and minor repairs on Wednesday, after the past year of travel and full time RV living.

However, “our plan” began to be “rearranged” when we had our very first tire blowout along Interstate 26 South, about 50 miles from our South Carolina destination. When the tire blew, we were able to safely maneuver to the side of the highway and get parked barely across the white sideline. With 4-way flashers on and emergency cones set out, we contacted our emergency roadside service and waited for a tire change, praying and rocking with every 18-wheeler that whooshed by. Our blown tire was replaced with our spare tire, and after a little over an hour, we were on our way. Keep in mind that it’s the Friday of a holiday weekend.

The next day I called nearly 10 tire services that were open, but none of them had a new 215/75R 17.5 tire which I needed to have mounted on the rim of the blown tire to serve as my spare. (Not smart to travel without a good spare tire.) I finally resorted to a 24-hour mobile tire service who had the tire and would come to me to mount it. (Of course these mobile services cost a bit more and it was Saturday of a holiday weekend.) Lamar of Lamar Mobile Tire Services in Greenville, SC arrived Saturday afternoon and within a half hour, we were set to go again. The plan remained to leave Monday.

Well, there is a bit of a back story. The brand of tires used by the manufacturer of our RV has a history of being of poor quality. (I will leave the brand unnamed. I did discover that the tires on my 2019 RV were 5 years old, but only had 13,000 miles on them.) The stories told about these tires are that when one blows, often a second one goes soon thereafter. So I thought, do we continue “our plan” to leave Monday with a new spare tire, but with the possibility of additional roadside tire blowouts on the remaining suspect tires?

Sunday evening, after some great times with our friends, and our prayerful goodbyes, we returned to our RV and I began my usual pre-departure routines. I checked tire air pressure and the torque of the tire lug nuts and u-bolts on the tires by the RV door. As I was kneeling by the tires doing this, I asked the Lord to provide wisdom and discernment about our planned Monday departure driving on what were now suspect tires. I finished and moved to the other side only to discover a tire flattened to the ground—the seal broken between the tire and the wheel. A second compromised tire in three days! Strangely, nothing was found that had punctured that tire or that had caused it to go flat…

Sunday evening, I called Lamar again and asked if he could help me. “Yes, but Tuesday would be a less expensive service call since Monday is Labor Day.” So, TUESDAY MORNING, not Monday, Lamar arrived at 10:30 AM to replace all four tires with the same brand he had put on as the spare. By 12:30 PM Tuesday we hit the road from Greenwood, SC with 5 new tires, ready to now drive 500 miles straight through in order to keep our Wednesday service center appointment in Tishomingo, MS. We should arrive in the evening sometime. Plans rearranged! Yes, we got extra time with our friends on Monday, enjoying DQ Blizzards together. Ice cream is always welcomed! We were still frustratingly believing that traveling on good, new tires, and missing holiday traffic around Atlanta and Birmingham was OK. However, we were not looking forward to a very loooong drive.

140 miles into our trip westward, we stopped at a TA Travel Center for fuel. Doing my usual quick visual check around the Beacon I discovered a tire looking a bit flatter than the others. After checking, it was WAY too low! I found a parking spot and set up my handy mini compressor to inflate the tire, only to have the compressor overheat and shut down. I drove between all the big rigs to the TA garage on site and a kind soul provided air service to re-inflate the tire to the preferred pressure. Off we go after about a 45-60 minute “delay” on a very loooong drive.

The “rearrangement of plans” was not over. Twenty miles down the road heading west I had the thought that I should check the tire just re-inflated to be sure it was okay. (We were headed toward Atlanta, and I certainly didn’t want another tire issue there.) The tire was not holding air. So, I drove the 20 miles back to the TA, (adding 40 miles and minutes to a very loooong drive), hoping that the same kind soul would help once more.

Well, I’ll spare you all the details, but we ate supper in our lawn chairs sitting in the TA parking lot waiting in the queue for my new spare to be put on (faster than a tire repair), and hopefully getting a diagnosis as to why the same day newly mounted tire was leaking. Well, we got both from Brian, a very nice and competent individual. The tire itself was fine, but the metal of the wheel it was mounted on was cracked in the inside of the wheel, allowing air to slowly escape. Off we go again, a good 2+ hours later, heading west.

For the rest of our loooong drive, all tires performed well. Weather was good. Don’t like to haul in the dark, but traffic was less around Atlanta and Birmingham. We gained an hour of time heading west. We arrived and parked at the service center in Tishomingo, MS. It was 2:30 AM. (Yes, you read that right)—2:30 AM… WEDNESDAY MORNING.

So, why do I ramble with this rather long, perhaps even mundane-in-the-general-scheme-of-things story? Because there is this most profound truth that is always superseding human organization, preparation, and planning: “A person’s heart plans his way, but the LORD determines his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9 Christian Standard Bible CSB)

You see, the “something more” at work as people organize, prepare, and plan is the Creator God, who is determining what you and I organize, prepare, and plan. Now that may or may not comfort you, but it should! Yes, the experience of it can be tough sometimes! When “stuff happens” like tires blowing on the interstate, more tires going flat on holiday weekends, slow leaky tires causing delays into the wee-hours when you really don’t like to drive so loooong in the dark when you’re so tired - all of this makes you tend to wonder about the nature and good purpose of God’s determining, especially when it means that what ultimately and finally happens, and when and how it happens, is all according to God’s will and purpose. It’s frustratingly hard, and even downright baffling at times. But what God determines is best! Comfort and confidence are nurtured in resting in God’s establishing and determining our steps.

I do not and probably will never know what didn’t happen, or what we were kept from, as regards my tires and traffic and travel and time because of God’s determining. But I rest in the truth that “the Lord determines my steps.” I want to rest in that. I must rest in that because it is best, even though I may not always rest first or even willingly. I may grouse and argue. But what God determines is always best.

“A person’s steps are established by the Lord, and he takes pleasure in his way. Though he falls, he will not be overwhelmed, because the Lord supports him with his hand.” (Psalm 37:23-24 CSB)

“Many plans are in a person’s heart, but the Lord’s decree will prevail.” (Proverbs 19:21 CSB)

“Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act, making your righteousness shine like the dawn, your justice like the noonday.” (Psalm 37:5-6 CSB)

And the journey continues…

Pastor Jim

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