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Champaign to Chicago... Barely

August 14, 2011 by Jong Park

It was a busy weekend. I spoke at the Chicago Marthoma revival meeting in Des Plaines on Thursday, Friday, Saturday nights. I also spoke at the CFC leaders’ retreat in Champaign on Friday, which is two and a half hours south. And of course, I had my Sunday service at TRC in Naperville. I was thankful for each opportunity.

Friday would involve the most driving. The plan was to drive down to Champaign at 6am Friday morning, speak at their morning worship, eat lunch, give a seminar immediately after, and leave by 2:30pm with my daughter who was already down in Champaign (she slept over her cousin’s). Barring bad traffic, I would arrive at home around 5pm, drop off my daughter and head to the Marthoma revival meeting about an hour away, which started at 6pm. It was a tight schedule but doable.

After an encouraging time at CFC, we ended up leaving around 2:45pm. I noticed the gas light was on so I pulled my car into the nearest gas station to fill up for the drive. I swiped my credit card and put the gas nozzle in. While waiting, I cleaned out the car and talked to my daughter about her brief visit with her cousin and friends until I heard a ‘click’ notifying me of the automatic shut off on the gas pump. I jumped into the car and we were on our merry way.

Five minutes into the drive, I noticed the gas light was still on! Cynical me, I thought maybe it was a gas station scam. They took my money without giving me any gas! I called my credit card to check and they said “Sir, you have no transaction on your card today.” translated: “Fool, you didn’t pump any gas.” Alright, no biggie. I was already on the highway but I was sure I could make it to the next exit.

Ring ring. I picked up my cell and got so engrossed in the conversation that I missed my exit. Doh! The next exit was another five miles away! When I finally got there, the GPS took me through some backroads. There was nothing in sight, no cars, no houses, just stalks of corn on both sides of the road – a midwestern country road to a tee. I refrained from driving Dukes of Hazzard style and prayed the whole time that I don’t run out of gas until I reach the main road. I would have no such luck.

A few minutes later, the gas light started to flash angrily as if to say, “Hello? A little attention please? I’m about to collapse here!” Seconds later, I felt the car die on me. The warning lights all came on at once and the car completely shut down on that country road. All that my daughter and I could do was pray and yell. I’m not sure why we yelled but I guess we felt like we had to do something. Oh, I also rocked my body thinking that it would nudge the car forward. All it did was get me really hot and tired.

I tried to let the car coast as much as possible. It kept moving along at about 5 mph. Interestingly, after about half a mile, when I thought we would stop it just kept moving forward (and no, we weren’t going downhill). Then, after a mile, the same thing. Then a mile and a half. It was the oddest thing. It was as if an angel was nudging the car from the back (although you’d think an angel would push much faster. You know, he’s got wings and all). When the car finally stopped, it was in front of a gas station three miles away from where we had run out of gas. The pump right in front of the entrance just happened to be unoccupied and we slid right in. My daughter and I were shocked. We then started whooping and hollering and giving each other high fives. She then said, “I guess prayer works!” Indeed.

As I drove home after that night’s meeting, I thought back on how fortunate I was to be able to make it to the revival meeting just in time. I don’t know exactly what happened but what I do know is I drove three miles with a dead car. It was a good reminder that while I was dead in my sins, Christ died for me, regenerated my heart, and strengthened me for his work. He gets all the credit.

I also thought about redemptive history. His redemptive history cannot be stopped even though at times it looks like his people have run out of gas: Abraham’s lies, David’s adultery, the exile, the silence of the intertestamental years, the immorality of the church in Corinth, and so on. Yet the Redemption Story of God keeps unfolding. He will not be stopped. Unlike my car, redemptive history won’t sputter to its final end. On the contrary, all the promises of the Bible will be fulfilled and King Jesus will victoriously charge back to earth and bring His final judgment.

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