Faith and Fire

Crack-BOOM!

Another flash burns a white line in my eyes, making it more difficult to see the road. That one was close enough to hear over the cross-wind and roar of the bike at 75 miles per hour.

Here. We. Go.

It wasn’t meant to be like this. “Meant,” I hate that word. It’s a word for college freshmen and people on the edge of a breakup. It’s not a word a missionary should have in his vocabulary unless it is accompanied by “we are all” then “meant” and then “to serve and pour out our lives as offerings for Christ.” Yuck. I didn’t mean to write that word. Let me start again.

In my mind, we’d be back at the orphanage hugging some little (and big) ones goodnight and maybe sitting down with a book or finishing a sermon on Youtube. I did not see us sleeping in Stefanie’s mom’s guest bedroom while our sick bike slept in her dad’s living room. Didn’t see that one coming.

DCIM100GOPROGOPR0722.
Date night in El Paso. She loves cobbler.

Now, how did this all begin? Well, it began with the bike losing power in El Paso (again). It began with me getting crushed with lies on the side of the road.

You aren’t good enough.

You can’t fix this bike.

Great job fixing the bike.

Your wife is on the side of the road just waiting to get hit by a car and it’s all your fault.

Everyone was right, you should have kept your car.

This bike will never start.

Great job protecting and providing for your wife. Husband of the year!

A quick side note to any woman in near proximity to a man who just had the car break down, or the air conditioning go out, or that thing that he just tried to fix break again: don’t tell him you told him so. Don’t go up to him and ask him “Now what?” even though that question is burning on the tip of your tongue. Believe me when I say, we hate ourselves enough for putting you in that position and if we knew what we were going to do, well,  then we’d already be doing it.

“I love you,” I hear my wife say through our headset, “You’re doing great. I’m proud of you, and you’re still my hero.”

I kid you not. That was the best thing to hear at a time when I felt like I was going to start kicking the tires and filling up the swear jar.

We fell to our knees and prayed, thanking God for His big plans and for counting us worthy to go through the same trial again. I grabbed my toolkit and within 5 minutes had the bike stripped down and the fuel pump out and ready for inspection (repetition is good for a growing brain). After much prayer and another 20 minutes of fiddling with things the bike started!

We hopped on and drove into the cooling 96-degree evening enjoying the lightning in the distance. Two stoplights later I prayed a scary prayer, “God, even if the bike broke down a 100 more times, I’d still thank you for it and the blessing that it’s been.”

You guessed it. The bike stopped again.

We pushed it to an abandoned gas station and I started working again, this time in desperation. I started sucking on fuel lines and shaking the bike back and forward to try to dislodge whatever is blocking the flow of fuel. Nothing. I spotted an air compressor across the street at a super sketchy gas station so we pushed our little sick bike over to it.

No quarters. Awesome. No cash. Even better.

I tried not to cry as I watched my hopeful little wife go from person to person in the gas station asking for a dollar.

Nice job. Married a month and you’re making her beg. Everyone was right, you have no idea how to lead a family. Next stop, sign on a corner!

She decided to hang out inside as the insects were swarming around the bright lights at the gas station. I threw quarters in the compressor and prayed that I was going to do something right.

“Blow out the main solenoid,” a voice said to me. Works for me. I’ve done everything else, and what could it hurt? Worse case I destroy my ailing fuel pump.

I pushed the hose into the main fuel pump solenoid and prayed, “Jesus, please. I need you. I have nothing. I am nothing. I need you to show up, please.”

It built pressure for a moment and then sprayed gas all over the rocks by the pump. That had to have done something.

I put it all back together for the second time that night and then I prayed.

It started. Praise Jesus, it started!

I motioned to the wife who had been on the phone with her mom. The crazy plan of the night was to drive the bike to Las Cruces (40 minutes North) and try to sell it up there. I’m all for being stubborn, but, enough is enough.

We hopped on the highway doing 75 not knowing when the fuel pump would decide that it was le tired. I kept waiting for the throttle to not respond, or for the bike to suddenly lose power. I kept scanning the side of the road for a good spot to coast to while we waited for help.

DCIM100GOPROGOPR0729.
The wife taking pictures on the GoPro!

“I will get you to Cruces,” that same voice said again in my head.

I wish I could say that I completely 100% believed that promise. That I, like the Centurion who said to Jesus, “Lord, just say the word and it will be done,” said the same. I didn’t. I spent the next 40 minutes stressing out every time a car followed too close or a semi boxed us in. I was horrified that we would end up as a bug splatter on the windshield of an 18 wheeler.

Flash. Flash. Flash.

Immediately my mind started racing.

Every two seconds. That means it’s probably a red cell. Red cells with clouds that dark have hail in them. Hail at 75 MPH on a bike means we pull over and get pelted until it stops. That cell is right on the highway. Awesome.

“I will get you to Cruces,” it sounded like a whisper of something more than impossible. I felt like the Israelites as they watched Pharaoh’s army ride down towards them on golden chariots filled with angry archers. “We’re going to die” is a much more human response than is “God’s got this.”

But He did have it. He really did. The cell hit the highway a few short minutes before we got there leaving a soaked road but no hail. The bike ran like nothing was wrong with it all the way until we got to Stefanie’s dad’s house. And she had the ride of her life praising God and enjoying the storm.

“That was the best ride ever!” she said, once we parked the bike.

“Yeah,” I shook my head, exhausted, “It really was.”

Until next time,

Lose your life!

-BenandStef-

“Then I realized that my heart was bitter, and I was all torn up inside. I was so foolish and ignorant- I must have seemed like a senseless animal to you. Yet, I still belong to you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny.Whom have I in heaven but you? I desire you more than anything on earth. My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever. Those who desert him will perish, for you destroy those who abandon you. But as for me, how good it is to be near God! I have made the Sovereign LORD my shelter, and I will tell everyone about the wonderful things you do!” Psalm 73:21-28

DCIM100GOPROGOPR0737.
           Another day comes to an end in Juarez.
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