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When my tire rotation turned into a battle for self-control, God showed up and showed off.
Tuesday afternoon, I handed my car keys to the man at the tire store to have my regular tire rotation done.
“We should be done in about thirty minutes.”
“Just so you know, the air pressure sensor is not working on one of the tires.” I told him.
“No problem, those go out occasionally. We can take care of that for $69.99.”
“No thank you. I can’t afford that right now.”
“Are you sure?”
“Okay. We will see you in about thirty minutes.”
When my phone dinged with a message saying that my car was ready, I got my keys from the service rep and went out to the parking lot to find my car. I started the engine and was immediately greeted by the tire pressure monitor screen — every sensor read zero. I turned the engine off and on again and met the same result. I gathered my things and went back inside. I explained what was happening to the service rep, and his response was frustrating to say the least.
“Those go out all of the time. You just never know when it’s going to happen. It’s probably just a coincidence. We’d be happy to replace them for you for $69.99 a piece.”
Almost instantly, I could feel my blood begin to boil. This was a feeling I hadn’t felt in a very long time — not since before I really knew God. Before God, I knew exactly how to handle this situation. I’d demand to speak to a manager. I’d raise my voice so everyone in the store knew the injustice I felt, simultaneously applying some pressure to the manager, and threaten to write a bad post or pull my patronage. I knew that the world would not only applaud my ability to fight for myself, it would demand it.
No one will fight for you. You have to fight for yourself.
I heard this phrase over and over again growing up. From my parents, teachers, other women — the message was clear; it’s all up to you.
Before God entered my life, this was my anthem. Frankly, I would have felt righteously justified in making a scene and getting my way — while in reality, embarrassing myself and making others feel tremendously uncomfortable. My old self would have been proud.
However, a person who wins with these tactics isn’t likely to be respected or admired. Their intimidation is more likely to provoke contempt or even fear. Through the enemy’s glasses I wouldn’t have seen what I had lost in the fight — my dignity. Even though it’s not easy, I know it’s not worth it. I don’t want to be feared anymore, I want to be loved and I want to be loving. As I have gotten to know God, I have learned the truth; I don’t have to be a fighter — someone else will fight for me.
“The Lord himself will fight for you, just stay calm.” – Exodus 14:14 NLT
With this truth on my side, I squelched the urge to act from my flesh. Instead of yelling and making a scene, I made a choice to speak kindly and do my best to live by the fruit of the Spirit.
“When I first came in, I informed you that one of the four sensors was out and that I was not interested in having it fixed (because even if it was $2 it was out of my budget). Please understand where I’m coming from. Is there anything you can do to fix what was working when I brought my car in?” I said, as gently as possible. All the while feeling the battle of flesh and Spirit raging inside me as fear whispered in my ear, you sound weak. Everything in me wanted the sale’s rep to know my soft voice wasn’t a sign of weakness; in fact, it was because of the strength God gave me in that moment that I was able to be gentle at all.
We talked, and he asked me to drive the car around for thirty minutes to see if the problem would resolve spontaneously. He proceeded to make a promise, that he wouldn’t put in writing (which annoyed me further) to fix the newly broken sensors if needed when I returned, and sent me out to drive. Believing this would do nothing, I called my husband and then my dad who both agreed and instructed me to forcefully demand action. As much as I wanted to follow their advice I continued to do what I was asked. I spent another twenty minutes driving; fighting thoughts of doubt, worry, and fear that the sales rep wouldn’t stick to his word and fix the sensors if I returned with the same problem. As every negative thought popped up, I refused it; I am not going to assume the worst.
When I got back to the store with no change in the sensors, the sales rep went back on his word.
“We will fix the one that was broken when you came in,” he said.
“I don’t expect you to fix what was already broken. I would like the three newly broken ones fixed. I was already going to have to save for the seventy dollars, two hundred and ten dollars is going to be much more difficult for me to come up with.” I responded.
“We will do the one,” he said.
I took a deep breath to keep my composure. I felt the Spirit ask, what are you going to do? God was making it clear, I was at a fork in the road. I could allow the circumstances of a broken world to dictate my actions or I could trust that God would take care of me as long as I was obedient to Him. Whether I was justified or not was irrelevant. I was either going to act out of the fruit of the Spirit or I was going to fail and commit the sin of pride and probably a few others — all over four tire sensors that are not even a necessary part to keep my car functioning.
I decided at that moment I wouldn’t do it. I would not give into the temptation — and in that moment the battle was won. I was not a slave to my sin nature anymore. By the grace of God, I had a choice, and I made it. I was free.
“So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.” – Romans 8:6 NLT
God had already showed up, but when I let go, He showed off.
I handed the sales rep my keys for the one original pressure sensor to be fixed. My thirty minute appointment had now taken over two hours and I had a meeting to get to.
“I have to go to a meeting. Please call me when the car is done, and I will come back later this afternoon to pick it up.” I told him.
Thirty minutes later, as I walked into my meeting, my phone rang.
“Hi, I’m calling to let you know your car is ready.”
“Wow, that was quick. The tire pressure sensor is working?”
“Actually, when they fixed the first one the other three also came back online.”
“So they’re all working?”
At the beginning of the day I had one broken sensor that I couldn’t afford to fix — then four. Three hours later, all four sensors were working and it didn’t cost me a penny or more importantly, to lose control of myself.
Maybe I could have achieved the same result by yelling and demanding, but I didn’t have to, because where you are faithful God shows up.
I always thought that freedom meant there would be no temptation, but I was wrong. Freedom means that when I am tempted, the powerful Spirit living inside of me gives me the ability to walk away from my tempter. The fight of flesh and Spirit going on inside of me is evidence of the power of God — and God has already won. Being free doesn’t mean it is easy; it means it is possible. Slaves don’t have an option; but remember we are no longer slaves. My freedom means I am no longer a slave to my sin. I am no longer alone in the fight. I have the Holy Spirit in me to be strong where I am weak. Proving to me, and I hope to you, that what the world may see as weakness is not evidence of lack, but instead a discerning choice to make room for plenty. When my flesh wants to fail me, my God will not.
“That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” – 2 Corinthians 12:10 NLT
Kristin McClendon is a youth ministry leader at Real Life Church in Valencia, CA. She is the creator of a program for High School seniors called Senior Sessions that prepares them practically and spiritually for life after high school. She is also an aspiring author with a B.A. in Religious Studies and Philosophy. Kristin will be married to her High School sweetheart for ten years this summer.
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