My big practice theme this year is trust in the Holy Spirit’s plan for my life no matter what befalls me. I spent last weekend in Las Vegas on a family vacation, and toward the end of the trip, I had an opportunity (read: upsetting incident) to put that trust to the test. It was difficult at the time, but I’m glad to say that in the end the incident was a comforting reminder that I’m in good Hands.
I drove to Vegas from Sedona, a one-way distance of roughly three hundred miles. All was going great until, while driving the night before I was scheduled to return home, I hit a left median strip that popped up out of nowhere, destroying my front left tire and wheel. “Idiot!” I said to myself. “How could you not see that?” My family was in the car with me, including my father and my brother, and I felt horribly embarrassed as I pulled to the side of the road.
I was even more embarrassed because I didn’t know how to change the tire, and didn’t even know where my spare or changing equipment was. I had never had a flat in my life, and I’m not a car guy, so I just never bothered to learn anything about this. But I remembered to ask the Holy Spirit for help and to trust that He knew what to do, and as I did that, things started to come together. My brother found my spare and changing equipment and changed the tire in no time. (Now that I’ve seen him do it, I know where my equipment is and how to change a flat myself the next time it happens.) Unfortunately, all I had was one of those tiny spares that you can only drive on for about fifty miles. Even worse, the spare itself was flat. Fortunately, though, there was a gas station only one block away, so I managed to limp the car on three good tires to the air hose where I could fill up the spare. That enabled us to get back to our hotel.
That night, I was filled with questions about what to do the next day. How could I find a good mechanic to replace my wheel and tire in a large, unfamiliar city? How close would the shop be to my current location? How quickly could I get the repair done? (I sure didn’t want to spend another night.) How expensive would it be? What if they didn’t do a good job, which would mean that if I discovered the poor work in Sedona later I would have no realistic way to get it redone even if it were guaranteed, given how far I lived from Vegas? It was time again to ask for guidance and trust in the Holy Spirit. I prayed to Him as I perused the phone book for tire repair shops, found one that felt right, and resolved to call them first thing in the morning. As I went to sleep, I turned the entire situation over to Him.
As I awoke the next day, I affirmed again that the situation was in His Hands. The tire place I’d settled on had multiple locations — I figured they would tell me which one was closest to me — so I called one of the locations at random. They told me that they could do the work, but that they didn’t have my rim in stock and would have to special order it. None of their locations would have the rim I needed. I wasn’t happy about that, but said okay, and asked for the nearest location. It turned out to be very near my hotel. I called that location, and to my surprise, they told me that not only could they do the work, but they actually did have my rim in stock.
So, I went there and had them examine the damage. I told the mechanic exactly how it had happened, and he immediately said with a laugh, “That’s Vegas.” According to him, there are lots of median strips that pop up out of nowhere in Vegas, and even locals run into them all the time in the dark — nothing to be embarrassed about. He quoted the cost of the repair to me, and it was very reasonable, much cheaper than I was expecting. He also told me that it would be best to have all four tires replaced, which is something I had been wanting to do for a while anyway, since my tires were pretty old. He quoted me a very reasonable price for that as well. He then said that they guaranteed all of their work, and they had many locations in Arizona. (I later discovered that they had two in Flagstaff, only twenty-five miles from me.) Finally, he said they could do the work in an hour.
Now the only question left was: What would I do with that hour? Fortunately, there was a mall across the street. I needed a particular piece of electronic equipment that was hard to find in Sedona, so I went into the Best Buy and found what I needed. I also noticed that there was a Barnes & Noble bookstore, and since I love to browse in bookstores, I went in. I ended up finding a book that I had been wanting to purchase for some time, so I bought it. (I even got a piece of what felt like spiritual guidance later, smiling on that purchase.) The hour was up right when the purchase was completed. So, I went across the street, picked up the car, and was driving out of Vegas with four good wheels and four new tires by 1 pm. I was safely home by that evening. All was well.
I don’t think that praying for guidance and trusting the Holy Spirit guarantees pleasant outer outcomes. Many people in many times and places have prayed sincerely and unceasingly, yet still experienced disaster. Peace of mind regardless of outcome is more important than pleasant outcomes. Yet I do think that when we put our lives in the Holy Spirit’s care, in general they will unfold more smoothly. The Course says that when you devote yourself fully to the purpose the Holy Spirit has for you, “He will go before you making straight your path, and leaving in your way no stones to trip on, and no obstacles to bar your way. Nothing you need will be denied you. Not one seeming difficulty but will melt away before you reach it” (T-20.IV.8:5-7). This sure seemed to be the case last weekend. I am indeed in good Hands.