So I should admit up-front, that I’m not very good with cars.
Forget fuel absorption or engine size, my last car was purchased on the basis that it had a decent stereo system and that its shiny Aqua blue would make it easier to find in car parks.
Of course, I know the basics, you know, all the stuff about oil, water, tyre pressure, but if I’m honest, it gets serviced and MOT’d every year and I mostly rely on the warning lights to shout if there’s anything wrong.
So last week, I noticed that one of the tyres looked a little flat. It wasn’t a puncture, but looked like it needed a top-up, so I filed a mental note to get it checked. And then, due to busy’ness, completely forgot.
We’ve been excitedly awaiting the birth of a new nephew or niece. Knowing the call could come at any time, I had a bag packed and in the boot, petrol tank full, ready to race off and collect my young niece when things got started.
On Wednesday night, I was driving home from work and as I passed a petrol station, there was a sudden little voice in my head; check your tyres.
On the basis that I dislike getting oily and wrestling with those ridiculous air machines, I ignored it and drove past. Up ahead, I could see another garage and there was the voice again, much more insistent this time; CHECK YOUR TYRES.
I reluctantly pulled into the garage and spent the next 20 minutes faffing about with a rebellious air machine. Tyres 1, 2 and 3 were all fine. So much for ‘little voice being right’, I thought. And then, it turns out that tyre number 4 was dangerously low (think 7psi, when it should have been 35psi).
Now, apparently, if I’d known anything about cars, I’d have known that such a big difference in tyre pressure, could be a warning sign of a slow puncture. But I don’t know anything about cars (I think I mentioned this) so I topped up the air, thought nothing of it and then that night at 3.30am, the much anticipated call came.
Within 10 minutes, I was out of the house (in my PJs and a hoody) and whizzing up the motorway, heading to my brother’s house 40 miles away. A quick transfer of car seats and some whispered instructions about nappies and porridge and they were off, to begin the process of bringing a little one into the world.
As dawn broke and my niece woke up, we got ready to spend the day with the rest of the family and once again, found ourselves whizzing up the motorway. Later in the day we got the wondrous, teary-eyed call, ‘It’s a boy!!’ and we were soon back in the car, driving another 30 miles, this time to the hospital.
It was only as we were waiting at traffic lights, to turn into the car park that someone walking by, told me my tyre was very low. As I pulled into the hospital, sure enough, it was now almost completely flat.
And yet through 100+ miles of driving in the past 24 hours, there’d not been a single rattle, thump or wobble. We would never have known unless a passerby had pointed it out. When I realised what had happened, I suddenly remembered that urgent, insistent voice; CHECK YOUR TYRES.
Was it that last-minute air top-up which gave the tyre enough strength to do a wee-hours dash up the motorway? Did that help prevent a breakdown or damage to the car?
What if I’d not listened and driven past that second garage? Lots of ifs and wonderings, but I believe I had that prompt for a reason. I think it was the gentle nudge of God, keeping us safe for the urgent hours which would follow. And for that, I’m overwhelmingly thankful.
I’m aware that we often get those nudges and ‘voices’. Sometimes they’re silly and seem inconsequential but what if we started paying more attention? What if this is one of the ways God speaks to us?
Even if it’s inconvenient, it’s wise to listen.
It might just save your life.