If you have ever driven the California coast, you would agree the word “breathtaking” doesn’t capture how awe-inspiring it is. Miles upon miles flow from the Mexican ambiance of San Diego to the contrasting valley and mountain exchange of San Francisco in a dramatic geographic transformation. It gives the opportunity to experience two different worlds in one day’s drive–and to truly experience the glory of God.
Six months ago, my dad and I boarded a plane to Utah for my cousin’s wedding. This ordinary trip became a significant milestone in our relationship.
Growing up I had a decent relationship with my dad. He provided for me, supported me and expressed pride in me. Yet despite all this, I never truly knew him nor did he know me.. Surface level would describe the depth of not only my relationship with my dad, but also my knowledge of who he is as a person.
Experiencing a significant amount of brokenness between my parents had caused me to keep a safe distance from having a authentic relationship with either of my parents, especially my dad. An extended trip alone with my dad was new territory that brought with it uncertainty and restlessness. It was a major step of faith to take this trip in light of the deep wounds that were seared into my heart from my parent’s divorce.
“Jesus said to her, ‘Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?’” (John 11:40 ESV)
When I think of the word “glory,” images of beauty and majesty are the first to come to mind. Yet there is another aspect to this word. Google defines glory as “high renown or honor won by notable achievements.” The scenic views along California’s varying landscaped were all glorious. Yet during this trip I experienced an encounter with that different kind of glory; the kind of glory “won by a notable achievement.”
Hours into the long drive from San Diego to San Francisco, I thought it would be a good idea to add some excitement to the car ride. Thanks to evolved technology my dad was unaware of, I was able to turn the car radio on and off from the steering wheel. What was the only logical use of this feature? Turning the radio on and off with the volume way up to create as much surprise and confusion in the car as possible.
After some heavy shared laughter over my successfully pulled prank, our rental car suddenly shut off. As much as I wished this was another one of my great tricks, the reality was we had run out of gas.
Rolling down the road in neutral trying to gain the most distance from our momentum, it hit me that we were on a cliff with only ocean and walls of rock in sight. Coasting around a bend in the road, I asked my dad if we could take a moment to pray.
It would be great to say this is always my first reaction in emergency situations, but I can’t. This time, however, I felt a burden to pray with him the very moment the car shut down, going to God in complete dependence for His intervention. My dad does not really have a relationship with God. Still, he agreed to pray with me.
“Father, I know You see us, You know our situation and You care. We ask for Your help and intervention to help get us out of this bad situation, whatever that looks like. We need You now. In Jesus’ name, amen.”
What comes directly after our “amen” felt like a movie scene. The bend in the road abruptly ended after our prayer did, and as we both looked up I saw a big blue sign about 100 yards away.
“Dad, do you see that sign?”
“The one that says ‘GAS’ in capital letters.”
A mixture of adrenaline, shock and joy rushed through my body as we both jumped out of the slow rolling car to push. After gaining some ground, I saw from the corner of my eye a man running down the hill. He got behind our car and began to push with us. He never said a word. We made it to the gas station, filled up the tank and were back on the road in less than 20 minutes. We were both caught in a state of amazement. Speechless.
“I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” (John 11:42 ESV)
Over the past two years I have been trying to share the good news of Christ with my dad. But up until this point, he had only seen God’s transforming power from a distance in my changed life. As we sat in the car after filling up, I asked him if we could take a minute to pray again, this time from a place of gratitude over how God had clearly shown up and come to our rescue.
The glory of God had come to our helpless, dependent situation. Not the kind of glory the mountains or coastal sunrise have, but the kind of glory marked by honor and achievement. God achieved what we could not by His providence in and through our prayer. The timing and location were perfect. Even more, God’s glory touched this defining experience in another way.
“…that they may believe that you sent me.” (John 11:42 ESV)
My dad’s eyes were opened this day, as well as my own, to a very real and very loving God tending to the pleas of one of His beloved children–so that one who is not yet His child “may see and believe.”
I am convinced God is ready and willing to step into the mundane of our lives, filling it with His grace and showcasing it for both those near and far from Him. He does this that many would come to believe He is who He says He is. He may even use empty gas tanks to do it!
“Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.” (John 14:11 ESV)
What about you? When have you seen glimpses of the glory of God.
After graduating from Kent State University in Ohio, Bobby Hegedish joined staff with Cru to do college ministry. During new staff training Cru asked me to serve as an assistant to the president, Steve Douglass, at our world headquarters in Orlando, Florida. I serving Steve so that he can increase his capacity to lead and continue to give vision to the worldwide ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ International.