My foster son is driving a truck that is officially on hospice care. All the bodily functions are beginning to shut down. There must be an extraordinary amount of money in trucking to sustain the costs of being broken down every 160 miles. Add to that the fines of $1000 per day for late delivery and wow! The one place the company is saving money is by not paying Robert for miles driven, because he is holed up in “off duty” status and he is spitting fire. A professional driver with a well maintained truck should be driving 600 miles per day to a maximum of 700. Robert has only made it to 600 miles once since our last visit 16 days ago. In 16 days he had 2 official rest days, 8 days broken down, 2 days waiting for loads and 4 uneventful driving days. Today may well have been the last miles traveled. He is shut down in a DOT weigh station.
The ECM Lost Brain Function
My favorite excerpt from these 16 days is from today. After two shut downs on two separate days for dead trailer lights, he was finally on his way. Just outside Amarillo TX. The trucking company owner Jalil called Robert to say the ECM (electronic control module) sensor communicated disaster and it looked like the truck was about to lose its entire brain.
As Robert’s mother, I could have told them this without needing any ECM printout. The kid is broken down every day. Surely the owner was aware, as he had to shell out hundreds and thousands of dollars a day to pay for the repairs. Robert was instructed to pull into a TA Truck Stop to have it checked out. “Really Jalil, I just got going again after a zillion delays. Are you really going to shut me down. For once the truck is purring along. You have not listened to a single thing I have told you about what is wrong with this truck. In all this time I never knew there was a device that communicated information to you.”
Barely a Pulse But a Lot Left to Say
Turns out the only time information is transmitted from the ECM is when it is hooked up to a diagnostic machine in a shop. Lord knows no diagnostics had been done in the 32 days I have been on this wild ride with Robert. The brain of the truck was scrambled because it had not been able to communicate for such a long time and it had a LOT to say.
Routine Inspection (Right Before Death)
Finally Robert was on his way. One mile on the highway he was pulled over by DOT for a “routine inspection.” Robert made fast friends with Roy the DOT inspector. He cracked enough jokes that Roy gave him his card and said to call him the next time Robert was passing through. He said if he ever wanted to give up trucking, he could easily be a stand up comic. Robert was passed free and clear and he went on down the road. It was only another mile to the next weigh station and it will come as no surprise to anyone but Kalil (the trucking company owner,) that Robert was told to pull into the inspection shop. I bet ole Roy was one of God’s angels and he phoned ahead to protect the boy.
Replace Worry with Prayer
I was figidy and needed to do something besides worry. If you are praying or reading God’s word, then you don’t let worry in. I needed to re-read what James said about trials. In fact the Book of James is my most favorite in the bible. In 5 short chapters, James covers everything you need to know in life. This would occupy my thoughts while God was working out a plan to rescue Robert.James 1
Trials and Temptations – consider it pure joy my brothers and sisters whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Still trying to wrap around the joy in these trials. Without question this is testing Robert’s faith and exercising perseverance. It says believers in humble circumstances should take pride in their high position as the one who perseveres under trial having stood the test will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.
Each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then after desire has been conceived, it gives birth to sin and sin when it is full-grown gives birth to death. Don’t be deceived. Every good and perfect gift is from above. He chose to give us his word of truth that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.
Robert has been sorely tempted to abandon the truck at many breakdown spots. When he was floating in 300 gallons of diesel fuel that leaked from the faulty fuel pump, he was tempted to light a match. When he was pulled off the road due to high wind warnings and he looked at the canyons on each side of the interstate, he was tempted to put the truck in gear and let the winds of nature have their way.
Listening and Doing – everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. Do not merely listen to the word but do what it says and in doing so you will be blessed.
So what this means Robert is to listen to your mother! We are completely at God’s mercy. There is nothing that can be done. God knows you are stranded miles from home. God knows you are not getting paid. As much as you want to call your boss Jalil every name in the book and comment on his abilities as a business owner, God asks more of you than this. Realize these trials are building your character. I know you are quite the character on your own, but God thinks you need even more character and more stories. I know you are capable of talking for 24 hours straight, but God wants to be sure you have stories with important lessons to share. He also knows your mother is writing your story and it is in preparation for events yet unseen. Not once has anger ever lead to good, so laugh instead. Laugh about the shortage of potato chips in New Mexico that you caused by being two days late with your load. Laugh about falling into the sink hole at the Flying J when they directed you right into it. Dream about how good the steak will be the next time we get to eat at our favorite “plastic cow” restaurant.James 2
Favoritism – God has chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him. Love your neighbor as yourself. Mercy triumphs over judgement.
Robert you have arrived. You have reached the pinnacle of rock bottom. You are totally dependent on God. There is an inheritance waiting for you.
Faith and Deeds – what good is it if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action is dead.
Robert, God tells us to help others who cannot help themselves. That is what I did that day you came walking up in my yard. When I saw your helplessness, I put my faith into action. No matter how difficult then or how difficult it is now, it is the right thing to do.
Taming the Tongue – the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. The tongue is a restless evil full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth comes praise and cursing.
So Robert, even your boss Jalil is human (barely) and while he may not follow the Lord and while he has put you in danger and seems to have no compassion for the situation he has put you in, God wants us to control our tongue. And just as you finally got through to the child support people and you asked them so very nicely to call your mom to talk about your case, we easily praised God that our letter had been received and was in the system and because you controlled your tongue, the lady liked you and is working diligently to find all those money orders you sent in without your case number.
Two Kinds of Wisdom – Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in humility that comes from wisdom. From where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.
Robert it would have been very easy to have a negative attitude when you got pulled over by DOT for a random inspection just minutes after you got back on the road again. But instead you entertained the officer with your humor and good cheer. How many DOT officers give out their business card because they want to hear your comedy routine the next time you pass through. At least you know you can do “stand up” at the truck stops once your truck comes to a complete death. And once again, you made more friends with DOT. You are going to bring Ruby her favorite coffee the next time you pass through Sundance WY and Roy is going to stop you for a random inspection next time you are outside of Amarillo just to hear your latest comedy routine.James 4
Submit Yourselves to God – you do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble. Submit yourselves then to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will lift you up.
And just when we think we are going to give up, a gentle breeze brings a change. And one more mile down the road after making DOT Roy laugh during your random stop, you approach the weigh station and you smile when they send you to the inspection barn. The last 16 days have been a comedy of errors and you are about to try out your new routine on a new group of fans.
Boasting about Tomorrow – now listen, you who say, “today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why you do not even know what will happen tomorrow.
Robert, you have James 4:13-17 engraved on your heart. You got this one.
Warning to Rich Oppressors – now listen you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you. The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty.
Robert, God sees your lack of pay and consideration for the breakdown insanity. He has heard your pleas for help. He will come to your rescue.
Patience in Suffering – brothers and sisters, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.
Robert, you have learned patience in suffering. You will be rewarded by your Father for the choices you have made. You will see God’s mighty compassion for your situation and he will show mercy the likes you have never before seen. It is coming. Your time is coming Robert.
The Prayer of Faith – is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover a multitude of sins.
Robert, we have prayed 1000 times a day. Sometimes alone, sometimes together. And mostly you have been in trouble. But I can hear you singing those gospel songs at the top of your lungs as you motor on down the road…Leaning on the Everlasting Arm, Victory in Jesus, He Lives, What a Mighty God We Serve, Power in the Blood, Standing on the Promises of God…and of course it is Alan Jackson’s gospel CD! God promises that when two or more are gathered, praying in his name, he is there. I feel a big miracle coming your way.
Polly Riddell writing as G. Polly Jordan is a storyteller connecting people and the stories they tell.
Twenty years before this series was written I took Robert in and taught him to drive and made all his dreams come true. He is the cause of my gray hair and he also was on the scene throughout both of my divorces, hmm.
He resurfaced twenty years later to give me a glimpse of the impact we had. It was a lot of impact.