Playing in Traffic

The Lord takes care of us when life is crazy.

“Dad, the car won’t respond to anything. It won’t go!” my daughter Scout (18) spoke with urgency. “Just pull over to the shoulder, and I’ll check it out,” I sleepily replied from the passenger seat.

Scout was driving the family home from our second Mother’s Day visit of the weekend. Our weekend also included a family funeral, lunch with my wife Belinda’s relatives, daughter Halley visiting from college, home school book fair, year-end dance recital, soccer game, grocery shopping, library book returns, church attendance, worship team performance, Sunday school teaching, and a ton of preparation for Scout’s high school graduation the following Saturday. You know, just a typical home school family weekend in which you desperately hope to catch up with life.

You younger dads probably don’t struggle with this, but when I overdo, I get overdone. So I asked Scout to drive the 40 miles back home while I snuck in a nap. Our schedule outpaced my energy supply, and I was about to watch the Lord adjust that pace.

Cautiously, I climbed out of the cab onto the highway surface of Interstate Loop 635 where Dallas/Fort Worth drivers treat the 60 MPH speed limit more as a quaint, old suggestion than a rule. Still alive, I snuck around the back of our aging Suburban and popped the hood. Honestly, I wasn’t sure what I was going to find under there. Maybe a loose wire with a tag reading, “Reconnect Me!” In my first car, a 1972 Pontiac Le Mans with an engine much too powerful for a 17 year-old idiot, you could actually see what was wrong under the hood. Not so with my 2007 Suburban.

There was no disconnected wire, so I climbed into the driver seat and fruitlessly turned the key. “OK, I’m the dad-in-charge here. What am I gonna do, Lord?” my father mind began speaking. I looked in the rear-view mirror to see how many Interstate drivers were going to rear-end us. Funny thing, that rear-view mirror had an OnStar button. Funny thing, I’d just considered canceling our OnStar service to save a few bucks in the family budget. Now I sure was glad we’d had a busy weekend and I hadn’t started the budget work.

I punched the OnStar button and a series of nice people described how they were going to help. The last person cheerily said they’d have the tow truck out in about an hour. An hour? Okay. Praise God we had a beautiful Sunday afternoon with a lovely blue sky, purple clouds protecting us from the sun, and a temperature of 80ºF-the type of weather you dream of when you go on vacation. So the family settled in for an improvised, one-hour vacation on the grassy median between the east- and westbound lanes of Interstate 635. And we gradually learned more about just how good our God is to us.

We discovered a folding camp chair in the Suburban’s cargo area, left over from Ever’s (8) soccer game. In the grassy median, the boys and I set the chair up for Belinda, and she eagerly started her new book treasure from the home school book fair, Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half!

Scout stretched out in the middle row of car seats and slept-something she hadn’t done for weeks with all her year-end rehearsals and graduation activities.

Story (14) plopped down on the median grass and continued his mystery novel about evil chefs killing each other. I was concerned the book would make that boy hungry, and there was no food or fuel for miles around our vacation spot.

My younger sons, True (12) and Ever (8), and I began exploring the grassy median of I-635-probably not the safest spot for a treasure hunt, but it’s where our ship landed. We found a Visa card, road flares, gaskets, handlebars, tires, mangled metal pieces, and various parts from exploding cars that wrecked going 90 MPH. Car reflectors were the best prizes with their immense shine.

We unearthed a Ford Thunderbird hubcap with its distinctive logo. Instantly, I became creationist home school geek dad and told the boys about Pterosaurs, the flying dinosaur that sourced the legend of the Thunderbird across the Southwest and how they’ve been spotted recently in the Big Bend Texas area.

We found a secret canyon between highway bridges, filled with thousands of orange traffic barrels and giant concrete road barriers from an ancient civilization. A creek traveled along the base of the prehistoric vine-covered bridge. Ever named this newly discovered landmark “Trevor Canyon” in a combination of “True” and “Ever.”

It occurred to me there were no bathrooms around, so I sure wasn’t going to bring that topic up with the boys. Right then True eagerly asked if he could relieve himself under the bridge. “No!” I barked, “And stop reading my mind!”

We found huge, mangled, rusty metal gadgets and took turns guessing what they had been. The boys improvised shovels and golf clubs from wooden pieces then dug for treasure and hit drink bottles as golf balls. We gathered our rusty finds, marched over to Belinda’s chair, and proudly presented our treasures to her. She was as appropriately amazed and appreciative as a home school mom could be.

One hour after the call, the tow truck guy arrived. The boys placed their treasures into the cargo area just before the tow truck loaded the Suburban. The tow truck only had room for two in the cab, so we men practiced “Women and children first!” and sent Belinda and Scout on ahead.

After the tow truck left, I called my friend, Jud, and he agreed to drive out and rescue us. As my sons and I sat in the median, they sang pirate songs. Must have been all that treasure they discovered. I asked my sons, “Why did God do this?” Story replied, “To remind us how blessed we are.” True remarked, “Cars are important. Life is easier now with cars. He has blessed us.” Ever followed with, “Something worse was going to happen so God made our car stop so we wouldn’t run into that bad thing.” I was humbled by my children’s trust in their Lord.

Dads, the Bible teaches us that God is sovereign. He sees, knows, and controls everything. We, His sheep, often disagree with this truth and think He is on vacation when life doesn’t go as we planned.

About a day later, the event settled into my mind. While we waited for the tow truck, Belinda read, Scout napped, Story read, True and Ever chased adventure, the tow truck arrived on time, and my friend drove us home. God protected us and gave us a brief vacation from the madness of life. We were peaceful on the median while cars sped 90 MPH all around us. My kids didn’t worry about rescue; they knew they would be rescued. That’s a faith to carry my children far into their future.