“THIS IS ONLY A TEST”

only a testThe pavement began to thunder and shake. The blacktop snaking through the unforgiving Arizona desert can be just as cruel as the elements it meanders through. It’s not uncommon to see signs warning of it, “Rough Pavement Ahead.” I pushed the burly gas guzzler onward, up the grades, down the hills, around the bends, over the dips, and across the barren straights in pursuit of cell service and a business meeting across the state that I was already late for…

For the readers not in the western states, and particularly the southwest, that’s no short jaunt. Out west, we cross counties bigger than states in the east. In fact, my destination of Mojave County just happens to be one of the biggest counties in all of the good ole’ USofA.

About thirty miles east of I-40, which is close to old route 66, the howling and growling began suddenly. I turned down the music as I engaged all my sleepy senses trying to solve the mysterious sound. My truck began to drag as I turned the music off, just as the truck began to bounce slightly.

It had been so long since I’d felt that sensation, it was almost foreign to me. The ugly realization was creeping over me when the smell of burning rubber confirmed it in my burning nostrils; a blowout… Uhhh!

The last time I changed a tire, the jack and accessories were light years easier to get to. It took me longer to get the jack and all the pieces that went with it than it used to take me to change just the blasted tire! Plus, if I’d have known I was going to have to be the one to change one of those big ole’ tires on my truck by myself, I’d have gotten little ones!

When I finally did get to town none of the local tire shops had any tires to match the one that blew out with over half the tread left… Ever notice how the warranty you purchased never seems to work out the way you plan?…

When I was younger I’d have played the odds, pushed my luck – to make it to my next stop through the desolate desert with no spare. “I can sell you a used one to get you back home?” The guy at the tire store offered… With a straight face and zero emotion I answered, “No thanks.” I’ve spent too many years on this earth to fall for that temptation… I know where short cuts get you… stranded…

I’d have to spend the night in a town I had zero desire to. With free will come choices, but sometimes free will can’t change circumstances. We’re forced to do things, sometimes trivial things, but often big things. I’ve come to grasp how a person reacts to small inconveniences shines a light on how they’re going to deal with the bigger ones.

It is similar to the wisdom in the Good Book, “Who can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much.” So it goes with our reactions to the adventures in life we have no control over… even with the gift of free will. In fact, the real beauty and supernatural genius of free will is how it can be used to choose how we respond to the aggravations, little and monumental alike.

In the end they all point to the very place we put our faith; either in ourselves or God above. All scenarios in life give us an opportunity to ponder these things… Like I did the day I inked this post… Sitting in a dingy over priced tire shop…

A long way from home…but it’s only a test…