My sister and I were cruising along on the highway, not a care in the world, until we heard a disastrous sound from the back of the car. Later, on the shoulder of a road in the middle of small-town Illinois, we discovered the reason for the disturbing sound. A blown-out tire.
My sister and I didn’t know what to do, at first. We were on our way to Missouri for a spring break getaway, still eight hours away from our destination, and this was the last thing we expected. Now we were stuck, on the side of the highway, unable to escape or continue on, in desperate need of help. In a silent panic, my sister dialed the insurance company, requesting roadside assistance. After an agonizingly long half-an-hour later, the insurance agent called back, telling us that it would take awhile for her to get through to AAA to see if we qualified for assistance. Our hope in that moment was in a flimsy promise from an insurance company that help may have been on the way. We would later find out that no help would ever come.
Cars flew by, each one shaking our tiny, stagnant sedan. Almost an hour later, our unexpected salvation arrived. A huge pick-up truck pulled up behind us and out stepped an intimidating man, inching closer to the driver’s side of the car. Complete with tattooed arm sleeves, a tight muscle tank (which looked rather small, considering this man’s muscles bulged right through the cloth), and a confident walk (the kind of stride that a cowboy would exhibit in an old western movie), I was scared. Two young and defenseless girls on the side of a highway had every right to be. But this man asked if we needed help. He was our answer to prayer, though I was still apprehensive about accepting it. After all, if roadside assistance was still on the table, then why would I need someone’s help – especially if he was slightly frightening and required more of a risk than AAA did?
Cyle Vance was his name. He was a gravedigger and gun shop owner and, needless to say, this did not add to my comfort in accepting his help. He made small-talk as he put on the spare, though it was not the usual Midwestern, friendly kind of communication. He cursed and mocked us and snickered at his crude jokes, but he still made sure we were taken care of. He was the only one that stopped to offer a hand, after all. Cyle, if you’re reading this, which I can safely assume that you are not, you reflected God to me that day.
Now obviously God did not mock me when he saved me from a place of despair, and that is where my analogy shows its flaw, but roadside assistance called later that day, telling us they were not coming. My sister and I would have been waiting on a help that would never have come. Just as God humbled me out to be vulnerable and desperate enough to accept help on the shoulder of a small-town road, God did the same in a much bigger way through Christ.
We were all stuck (maybe still are) with more than a flat tire, a completely dysfunctional engine, waiting for a help that would never arrive. It sure seemed like it would, too. The promises of the insurance agent seemed convincing, so much so that my sister and I put our hope for a way out in it. I hate to be dramatic in this comparison, but the agent kept us waiting in a place with no escape, just as The Enemy does. He loves prolonging and building on our suffering in keeping us in a desolate place, holding out hope in something worldly and fleeting. Lies bombard us daily, whispering that worldly things have the ability to save us from the side of the road. Sweet, empty promises. A relationship. A good-paying job. Other people’s opinions. Control of our lives. A doctor’s diagnosis. You name it, I’m sure we’ve all misdirected our hope and waited on it with anxious expectation. It can’t save you, though. It won’t. It’s going to call you up and tell you that help was never on the way.
When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners.
Romans 5:6 (NLT)
This is the scripture that comes to mind when I think of the situation my sister and I found ourselves in a couple weeks ago. We needed a fix, not just a tow-away service to prolong our flat tire problem. We needed immediate help. Cyle Vance, though quite a character, personified Jesus to me.
He offered help when no one else would, going as far to meet us where we were at. He responded to our plea for desperately needed assistance. We reaped the benefits of his hard labor and sacrifice. He came at the right time, to a helpless people that needed a way out and a path to a place that offered full renewal.
I truly believe that people, God’s creation, reflect their Maker in their being.
It seems to be inevitable for the masterpieces of God to display His image, even if they are fighting against showing God in their nature. As a painter creates an image that portrays their unique individuality, or a sculptor chisels a statue in the likeness of him, God does the same. Now if these paintings and statues were to come to life and have a free will as we do, would they not still display their Maker? Easily a Christian or disciple of Christ (one who uses their free will to glorify their Creator) can demonstrate the character of their Designer, and I believe just as easily, it can be seen in those who are ignorant to who they really are spiritually. I believe that is what I beheld in Cyle that day – a piece of my God and his loving nature manifested in his splendid creation.
Thank you, Jesus, for showing up at the right time to deliver your powerless, stranded people from a state of hopeless brokenness. You offered a spare tire to get to the repair shop and a means of finding reparation in an undeniably damaged world.