27 January 2016
How my car breaking down became the best day of my life
Who would have thought that 20 January 2016 would go down as one of the best days of my life.
It had started normally enough. I had had a good working day in London, interesting conversation over lunch with my colleague and no train delays. Then came the usual Wednesday routine of rushing home to pick up my daughter from school before taking my son to his weekly English tuition. As always, the hour-long wait while he did his class gave me time to do some food shopping and catch up on emails – much needed 'me' time that I savour each week.
But this is when my usual routine was interrupted. As I drove to pick up my son for his tutoring, my car started to experience problems – first the power steering went and then the engine sighed and gave up, too. Typically I would have taken all this in my stride – but not today. For starters, it was absolutely freezing outside – with temperatures below zero – and what's more, roadside assistance estimated it would take a van an hour and a half to get to me. Thankfully my wife was able to pick up my son and I was able to grab a flask of hot tea from my son's tutor before settling down in my car for the ensuing wait.
As I sat quietly sipping my tea, it dawned on me that this would be a great time to pray. Spiritual discipline is one of my greatest flaws. I'm a busy man. In fact I thrive on busyness and today had been no exception. I had planned to read my Bible on the morning train and I just about did, though my mind had been elsewhere. But right now I had few distractions and so I prayed and I enjoyed this time with God.
Thankfully time passed quickly and the car recovery was with me in the allotted 90 minutes. But then the bad news came: the fan belt was finished and he wouldn't be able to help. There was no option but to call a pick up to tow my car. And so another one a half hour wait loomed.
The vehicle finally arrived to take away both me and the car. Ever had that feeling you are about to have a significant encounter? Well, I did now. On the way home, light conversation quickly turned to talking about faith. The driver shared that he was an atheist, though he recalled an incident when he had once helped out a Christian lady with a broken down vehicle who had then insisted she would pray for him. It was only a few days later when he won £50 on the lottery. Not a huge amount compared to many winners, but it left him with questions. Was it coincidence? Or maybe good karma coming his way for a good deed? Or could it possibly have been the prayers of the lady? Whatever it was, he was delighted with his winnings.
As we journeyed home I was able to openly share my story of coming to faith with no resistance. Conversation flowed nicely despite it being late and the driver still having two more jobs to deal with after mine. Before he left, I was able to give him a copy of my book Filthy Rich, that describes my faith journey – a gift he readily accepted.
As I quickly got into some comfortable clothes that evening and prepared for a late dinner, I reflected on the evening's events. It had been seriously cold and it had been a long wait, but how wonderful to have been placed by God into a situation where I could have a great conversation with someone who was clearly being chased by God. I took the opportunity to pray for the gentleman and his family. And then a strange thought struck me. This felt like one of the best days of my life. My spirit felt lifted. After all I had witnessed God's love. He had sent one before me with a message of His love to this man, and then today I had shared it with him, and who knows if others will follow. Whatever the course of that man's life may be, God had turned the day for good. I had been able to share about Jesus - what a privilege!
Who would have thought that the day of the breakdown of my car would somehow feel like one of the best days of my life? Bizarre, but it certainly felt very, very special.
Only God can make a breakdown a cause for celebration.
Manoj Raithatha is the author of Filthy Rich, the property tycoon who struck real gold, shortlisted for the 2016 Christian Book Awards.
The Evangelial Alliance is looking for stories about how you came to faith. Who was the most significant person in you coming to faith? How your life has changed since meeting Jesus? Are there times when you or your church have stepped out and shared your faith, like Manoj? We've set up a dedicated email address to hear your stories – email@example.com. Please do send in your stories – maximum 300 words – along with your contact details. We want to share your good news stories with others, so please only get in touch if you are happy for them to be used in the public domain. We all have a story to share, let's change the narrative around us and remind each other that still Jesus transforms lives in the UK today.