The Set Up
A week after my oldest grand-nephew’s birthday he set a date for his baptism. His family lives 257 miles away. No problem! This is a special day so of course I wanted to be there. Not just me but most of my other family members were going to be there. Even his aunt who lives 10 hours away was making the trip. The date may have said the end of winter on the calendar but this is Wyoming so we prayed for decent weather which is Wyoming talk for decent roads. It was the first family gathering since Christmas and I was excited to see everyone. February had been particularly stressful so I was looking forward to a mini-vacation. I booked a hotel room and I had a book on CD to listen to on the trip. I looked forward to the weekend.
Should have listened to Dad
I got off work early on Friday and was anxious to get on the road. Originally, I hoped to leave straight from work but I had to run home first and finish packing. When I arrived home I dropped my work bag in its spot by the door and grabbed my suitcase. I threw my stuff in the car and took off. After one more stop, I was on my way towards my niece’s home. I put my CD in and listened to the story while I drove. What a nice weekend this was going to be!
Dad always likes to get gas before he starts on any trip. Even if his gas gauge is only down a quarter of a tank he will top it off. “Always start a trip with a full tank of gas,” he says. I make fun of him. “The needle is at the bottom of the F. You don’t need to get gas.” My mocking has never changed his rule of thumb.
I looked at my gauge and knew I could wait until 100 miles to get gas. Since I was in a hurry I thought this would be wise. I’d get gas in 100 miles then again when I get there. On the way home I’d do the same thing. No problem. I had plenty of gas to make it the first 100 miles.
The uh-oh moment
I listened to my book on CD (A Night Divided) contentedly until I approached the 60 mile mark. That’s when I realized it. When I dropped my work bag off at home and picked up my suitcase I did not grab my wallet out of my bag. At least, I couldn’t remember if I had. I started to feel for my wallet and couldn’t feel anything. I checked again. Nothing.
I called dad and asked him to check my work bag. Sure enough, my wallet with my money, credit cards, and driver’s license was back at home. Safe and sound. Dangme.
Should I turn around and go back and get it and lose 2 hours or should I keep going?
My brother and sister-in-law would be leaving in a bit. They could bring my wallet to me. No problem! I looked at my gas gauge. It was already almost at half. I called my sister-in-law and asked if she would pick up my wallet and bring it to me. She said she would. So, I would have my wallet by that night. No problem! But I didn’t really want to run out of gas by the side of the road should I stop at the 100 mile mark and wait for my wallet to catch up?
I don’t wait well. That didn’t seem like a good option. I’d keep going and see how far I could get.
I lost focus of my book on CD and started to watch my gas gauge closely. It occurred to me if I had only heeded dad’s counsel of leaving town on a full tank of gas I wouldn’t be in this situation. If I had tried to fill up my car before I left town I would have noticed then that I had no wallet. That dad is one wise cookie.
Only the longest journey of my life
I hit the 100 mile mark and the gauge hovered above half. I can make it a little farther, I thought. My book on CD continued on with the story and I listened while I watched the road and checked the gauge every few minutes.
The thought that I should pray did occur to me. But I have been struggling with my faith lately. While I’ve always been a praying sort of person my pride got the better of me that day. I refused to outwardly pray. However, since my most inner-most natural self has always been a prayerful person my heart said one anyway. “Please help me,” the words formed somewhere deep inside me and were sent heavenward in an informal plea.
I continued down the road following the same pattern of watchfulness. Every marker I hit that showed me I was a little closer was a relief. Down the road I went with a prayer in my heart but stubbornness in my soul.
[spoiler alert] I made it
Finally I pulled into a gas station a few miles south of my niece’s house. The gas gauge was just below a quarter of a tank but I made it. My sister’s fiancée, who lives in the same town as my niece, met me at the gas station and filled my tank for me. Twenty-eight dollars’ worth of fuel and I had nothing to give him in return. He smiled and graciously said it was okay. After all, we will soon be family.
I felt useless without my wallet. I couldn’t buy dinner (my niece bought me dinner). I couldn’t even get a drink from the vending machine which I wouldn’t have anyway if I did have my wallet because I think they are overpriced. That night though, everything looked so good.
It turns out, my sister-in-law and brother were delayed and weren’t able to come into town until the next morning. If I had pulled over and waited I would have been waiting all night in my car.
My sister-in-law took a picture of my driver’s license and credit card so that I could check into my hotel room. I’m not sure if the clerk should have actually allowed me to do that but he mercifully did. I got my mini-vacation after all and after my long drive that day I needed one.
I keep thinking about it. I said no formal prayer but I know there was a prayer in my heart. Did God answer this stubborn girl who has been struggling to find the light? For awhile now, I have been feeling out of sorts. Did He actually answer a silent prayer of the heart? I think He did. But like a flicker of a match in a dark room I don’t know if it made a lasting impact or was absorbed by the darkness again. At least I noticed the flicker, right?