Monday, November 17, 2008

Pastor's Perspective - Pop Quiz Hotshot!

Pop Quiz Hotshot! Those words represent what I believe the Lord was conveying to me early Saturday morning in a dark quiet parking lot in South San Francisco. Better elaborate, huh?

Friday night we drove our minivan filled with dear church friends down to Mountain View to watch our creative arts director Jeramy Sossaman (‘Special Soss’) play a solo set of his new music at a packed coffee house. Several from FCC had made the long drive down to support ‘J’ and enjoy some kid-free connection with other adults (what a concept!). After Jeramy’s great solo set, followed by another set with his band East of Western, we piled into our Honda Odyssey for the trip home. As I drove an indicator told me that a tire was rapidly going flat. We stopped several times to put air in it, but it was losing everything I pumped in. The tire was very hot to the touch. We were far from home. This couldn’t be happening. This would be a marathon night.

Several months ago when we purchased the van, Mr. Non-Mechanical (me) didn’t stop to ask the salesperson about the tires. There were four and that was cool with me! The ones that came with it were the special ‘run flat’ type that literally do not go flat like conventional tires. Instead, because they have a rigid structure within the tire, you can literally drive for miles (to a repair station) without having to pull over and change the tire the old skool way. Because of this technology, no spares are provided in the vehicle. By the way, did I mention that this “convenience” comes with a price tag – approximately $400 per tire! Back to the story.

I pulled over into a hotel parking lot, cautious to drive the van any longer. Thankfully, my wife and ladies with us maintained very sunny dispositions despite the ultra-late hour and unanticipated scenario in which they found themselves. There we were. Van full of ladies. Well over an hour from home and families. No spare. Late hour. Tire technology I’m totally unfamiliar with. No money for a replacement. Tired. Hungry. Borderline agitated. No helpful roadside assistance available. Trying to be the strong and calm alpha male, when inside I don’t know what to do next. Reality.

Imagine the joy of calling Jeramy and asking him to please turn around and make the long drive back to pick us up. It’s a true friend who would and did! In the meantime, I jacked up the van and removed the tire. Nothing to do now but wait. Maybe Jeramy’s spare tire would somehow fit. A long shot at best. In the meantime the girls walked over to a hotel to kill some time. I stayed behind with the van. In my solitude I began thinking. What if the spare didn’t fit? Will a conventional tire work in this special tire system? If not, what will I do? How will I pay for it? This will blow the Christmas budget completely. How will I get it to a dealership? Driving it any more will cause even more extensive damage. Cha-ching! Then, that ‘Pop Quiz Hotshot’ moment came.

Alone, as I looked down at the tire in the darkness, an impression of comments and questions flooded over me. “Steve, it’s a only a tire! I’ve led you through heartaches and even cancer; and you’re tempted to fret over a piece of rubber? I love you. I’m watching this. I’ve got this. I’ve given you a voice for my people. How can you lead my people, if you’re tempted to become angry over a tire? I’ve brought you 3,000 miles from what was familiar to what was unfamiliar, and I’ve met every need you have. Son, don’t worry about the money. It’s my money. I’ll take care of you. With what I’m about to do in the church I’ve led you to, you’ll be writing much bigger checks than this. And look at the friends I’ve given you, who love you and encourage you. As a matter of fact, one is driving to help you right now. You’ve been through tougher. I’m aware of this. I’m your wisdom. I’m your answer. Just trust me.”

Guys, I literally had a praise service for an audience of One at three in the morning in an unfamiliar parking lot in a totally unfamiliar town, facing an unfamiliar situation. I lifted my heart and hands and just began thanking Him for His immeasurable faithfulness and assurance. I’m glad it was the middle of the night, because people would have called security on me! Suddenly, everything changed. The situation was the same; no AAA angels swooped down with a new tire –but, something real had shifted in me. In my little trial, my Father reminded me how BIG and dependable He really is!

How did it all end up? Jeramy’s spare didn’t fit. He drove us all back home, and we laughed the whole way. He took me back to the van Saturday after a few hours of sleep, where I drove it the longest seven miles of my life to a dealership. The tire couldn’t be repaired and had to be replaced. I spent all day in a service department in the booming metropolis of Colma! Then, at the end of an endless day, to add insult to injury, got stuck in heavy San Francisco traffic. Readers, it was a great and glorious day! I wouldn’t change a thing. It began as an unanticipated late-night trial and ended-up being yet another testimony in my life’s testimony – a fragile little letter about His glory.


Jeramy Sossaman said...

truly a magical night. in more ways then i could ever comment on without losing a friend. :-)

but seriously, god is good AND bigger AND faithful. no joke!

gaskinsfamily said...

Wow!!! What a story! Your messages have always been good for me to hear. God is truly working through you. I needed that story today!

drick said...

there's nothing like the creator of all things whispering in your ear, "who cares about a stupid tire..."

good stuff rabbi.

Gena said...

Amen brother! It's great to know God is never surprised. Oh we may be really surprised, but not him. He gotcha covered!!!!!

Love you

Natalie said...

I had NO idea I would be moved to tears reflecting back on that night... For me personally, I recieved enough laughter in my "laugh~tank" to last me til mid 2009!!!
Now this has just shed a whole new light on the LOOOONG Night. God is so faithful! A flat tire to Him has got to be a breeze if dividing a sea is so easy!!! I'm just sayin...
I am thankful for all my friends... Your a huge part of what makes me not want to switch places with anyone else on this planet!!! I love you all!

~ I am also greatful that of all the times I have left my camera at home, that this time wasn't one of them!!!

bronwenhealyhope said...

i am so so so touched by this recount of your know why? look where He has you now and look where you are letting Him have you now????? humilty and surrender come to your friend i want to say: well done.

Jackie said...

I know how you feel. Been there done that. And you know the great FCC brothers and sisters to the rescue. I love it! Made me think of how we look at things and then God with His still small voice does wonders. I just love it! God is good and keep on keeping on Pastor Steve. We love you so much!

God has certainly choosen us a great leader in the faith!

FCC is full of loving real people.

Just like your flat was soon replaced with a new one, your heart was inflated with the rememberance of the love of Christ! I just love it!