God’s Grace Disguised as Car Trouble

Perhaps some of you remember last year’s adventure in Nashville when my catalytic converter was stolen, and how God provided abundantly in the aftermath.

Well, it seems that the Lord has been listening as I’ve told people over the years that I enjoy adventures, because it seems that adventures are often the way the Lord’s blessings come. And apparently, trips to Nashville are particularly good for adventurous blessings. Here’s what happened.

Christmas morning I left Louisville at about 6:45am to head to Nashville so I could catch my flight home to spend time with family. I had planned on this being the last time I made the trip in the Isuzu Rodeo, because it had begun displaying some slightly worrisome quirks — nothing major, but things I assumed meant the car wouldn’t be reliable for another year. In fact, I had actually already started looking at vehicles to replace the Rodeo, but had been unable to find anything I really wanted in a price range I was comfortable with.

So, on the way to Nashville, I had the music turned up loud to keep me awake, and things were fine until about 45 minutes from my destination. At that point I had turned off the music and noticed that an odd grinding noise emanating from the front passenger wheel well was gradually getting worse. I assumed that perhaps the rotor had warped or something, so I kept driving.

About 15 miles from my destination it started to get much worse, and I realized that it was definitely not the rotor, but had no idea what it could be. The increasingly disconcerting noise had put me on guard, which is a good thing. If it hadn’t, what happened next could’ve been far worse than it turned out to be.

Going 70+mph down the interstate, about 8 or 9 miles from my destination, the brake caliper on the front passenger wheel suddenly seized up on the rotor. Basically it was as if I had slammed on the brake for that one wheel. The front of the Rodeo took a nose dive and swerved into the lane on my right. It was a mercy of the Lord that I wasn’t driving beside a concrete barricade or ditch, and that there wasn’t a car in the lane next to me. Any of those things would’ve meant a pretty severe wreck. But as it was, I was able to get the car under control and over to the side of the road.

Now, after I had caught my breath and breathed out profuse thanks to God for His mercy, I decided to go ahead and try to get to my flight. So, I slowly and ever-so-carefully eked out the final few miles, parked the Rodeo (which had lived up to its name, since I had to hang on for dear life like a cowboy on a bucking bull), and got on the plane.

Now, to make a long story short, here’s how that resulted in more grace:

While in Baton Rouge I went on a mad hunt to find something reliable and manageable and in my price range. AND, since it was the end of the year, car salesmen were willing to make great deals. I looked at some trucks, but couldn’t find anything really close to what I wanted. Started looking at Jeeps, found one I really liked, talked to the salesman, and got it for about $3500 below retail because it was the last day of the year.

Drove it back to Nashville where my Rodeo was parked so I could try to do something about the fact that I now owned 2 vehicles. (By the way, I had to exercise an agonizing amount of self-control to not take the Jeep off-roading in the many fields and forests off the side of the interstate through Louisiana and Mississippi.) Someone had mentioned that Carmax bought vehicles, so after cleaning the Rodeo out I limped through back roads going about 20mph and got to the place. It turned out to be the easiest part of the whole process. I pulled the car in, 5 minutes later I was in a manager’s office giving them vehicle info while their appraisers test-drove it.  I wasn’t hoping for much more than $1000 for it – being that it was 11 years old and driving terribly. The offer came back triple that! I accepted, signed over the title, and 20 minutes later had a bank draft for $3000 in my hand as one of the salesmen drove me back to my Jeep.

Great deal on a new car, which I would not have found if I hadn’t been forced to for something.

Great deal on the Rodeo, which I don’t think I would’ve gotten anywhere but Carmax in Nashville.

This is God’s grace.

Thank God for adventures in Nashville!

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