looking through me

tire trouble

Slogging through afternoon traffic, I saw a pickup truck with a shredded tire pulled over on the right shoulder. The sight brought back memories of my own tire-changing experience on the side of a freeway.

My tire wasn’t shredded. I couldn’t see a nail or screw or razor blade or any of the usual suspects I have a knack for running over, but something caused my tire to go from fine to flat in record speed. An hour later when I was buying a new one, I asked the guy what I’d picked up in the old one.

“Nothing,” he said.

He went on to explain that in the desert—where I lived at the time—tires more often failed from dry rot than from usage or punctures. He showed me the telltale tiny fissures and discoloration on the wall of the tire and mentioned how the heat and intense sunlight compromised the integrity of the tire.

I’d never paid attention to that part of my tires. I knew I was supposed to keep an eye on the tread and air pressure, but I had no idea the sides could rot. And I certainly didn’t know the place I lived could be the biggest reason for it.

But even if I had known my tires were susceptible to rot, I’m not sure I would have noticed it. I had to be up close and personal to see the signs. The tire was off my car in a well-lit mechanic’s bay with an expert pointing it out before it became obvious.

It’s been a few years—I don’t live in a desert any more—yet rot continues to threaten my well-being.

I check my emotional pressure from time to time. I rotate through a variety of spiritual disciplines to prevent uneven wear. But how aware am I of the influence of my environment? How closely am I looking for tiny cracks that can lead to catastrophic failure? Do I recognize the weaknesses stressing my integrity? Or am I at risk for a blowout as I speed through life?

Rot creeps up in those out-of-sight areas of my soul. And the master mechanic waits to guide me, if only I’m smart enough to ask Him for help.


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I backed out of the parking space. My shoulders tensed as I white-knuckled the steering wheel.

Through clenched teeth I murmured, “God, You were good yesterday. You are good today. You will be good tomorrow.”

I needed to hear the words. I needed to remember that the unexpected phone call and the unfolding reality changed nothing about the goodness of God. I repeated the words over and over on my way to the hospital.

Life may have shifted from standard to uncertain in seconds, but God’s goodness remained constant. Circumstances couldn’t—cannot—change it.

Almost two weeks later, I see the increased effects of Dad’s brain tumor diagnosis.

The man with perfect writing can barely use his right hand. He can’t grip a pen. He can’t direct his fingers to the desired letters on a keyboard. He can’t pick up his grandchildren. He eats left-handed. I put his watch on for him and clean his glasses. He wears slip-on shoes to avoid tying laces.

The man with a sonorous bass sat in the congregation on Good Friday instead of in the choir. He slowly shapes slurred words.

The man with a servant’s heart has been banished from helping with dishes in the kitchen or tearing down tables after a party. Instead he hears, “What are you doing? Do you need help? I’ll do that.”

Yet, God is good.

He was good before the tumor was present. He was good when the tumor arrived without symptoms. He was good when the growth and swelling began interfering with normalcy. He is good as we wait for surgical intervention. And He will be good regardless of the clinical outcome.

I roll my tense shoulders back and down. I try to slow my rapid, shallow breaths. Life may not feel good. Life may not be good.

But God is good.



Note: This was written early in the week prior to Dad’s appointment with the neurosurgeon Wednesday morning. After two days taking steroids to reduce the swelling, his speech is nearing normal and his hand is not normal but has regained some function. He has a tentative surgery date of Monday, May 1. We appreciate your prayers in the waiting.


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