It had been a wonderful weekend. We had been skiing, snowboarding, tubing, worshipping, learning, and lots of laughing. I had that typical youth leader mixture of really pumped about the great weekend/"I'm gonna need 3 Red Bulls to get the bus home tired" going on. We had just left the camp, and in fact I told the kids to text their parents and let them know that we would be home earlier than our estimates had suggested.
As I was driving, I heard a rumbling coming from the front passenger side. That can't be good. It took a moment for my sleep-deprived brain to register what was going on. Flat tire. I scouted the road and found a restaurant with a big parking lot. The next thought that flashed through my head was a happy one: We have a spare tire on the bus. The thought after that canceled it out: We have not jack.
There is nothing quite like trying to problem solve with 8 or so teenagers offering you their opinions on the situation. I called the other church, and asked if they'd come rescue us with the jack from their 15 passenger van. Even that though seemed problematic. We have a "omnibus." It is not small. A standard jack probably wasn't going to get the job done. We were stuck.
Just then a woman drove over from the restaurant itself and asked if we needed help. I explained our dire situation to her, and she smiled. "Boy, did you ever break down in the right place." She parked her car, walked around to the back, and emerged with an industrial strength pump jack.
God is so good sometimes, isn't he?
We introduced ourselves, and I found out our savior's name was Stevie. It turned out that even her jack was not big enough to get the bus off the ground, but it also turned out that she lived 5 minutes from us, and had a much bigger one at home. So she drove off, the kids and I huddled back on the bus for warmth, and we laughed together about the situation and tried to figure out how we had blown a tire. A few minutes later, Stevie was back, and some of our strongest boys didn't waste a minute crawling on the ground to get the bus off the ground, the flat tire off, and the (alarmingly bald) spare tire on. We thanked Stevie profusely, and made it on our way.
As the students started falling asleep on the way home, my mind wandered. This was one of those happenings that can completely ruin a retreat or event, if I would have let it. I could have gotten fussed about how late it made us. I could have been annoyed at the 8 commentators I had behind me as I assessed the situation. I could have tried to do everything myself out of some sense of obligation. Or it could have played out exactly as it did. We used that moment to grow closer together as a team. We used that moment to talk about how good God is when he sends a woman with access to two industrial strength car jacks. We laughed about how muddy we had gotten. We used an unfortunate situation and made it a source of joy.
Have these moments ever happened in your life? What choices do you have to turn unfortunate events into occasions of joy?