“How on earth do I get this wretched cover off?” I muttered angrily to my daughter Helen. “O Damn!! Here comes another stupid car. I’ll have to get out of the way again. Grrr!”
Helen’s flat is located on the Field Lane estate. When the houses were built, few people owned cars, so many properties don’t have drives. The cars are lined up on one side of the street, leaving the opposite side clear as if it were a single-track road. It’s great fun if you meet a van. You have to find a passing place; it’s like those roads in the Lake District except without the scenery.
A feature of this Lockdown winter has been that you only do short trips, with your headlamps on and your fan at full blast. This is bad news for batteries, so it was no surprise when Helen called us on the afternoon of New Year’s Eve to say that hers was flat. She couldn’t start her car. Could I help her get it moving?
Because she was parked on the opposite side of her street, we couldn’t run a cable to her newly acquired battery charger. Bump starting wasn’t really an option; it was icy underfoot (as it usually is when things go wrong) so it was difficult to push. The thought of trying, failing and leaving Helen’s car stranded, didn’t much appeal. Wilko was still open, so Helen suggested we drove down and purchased a set of jump leads. It was cold and miserable, so we gave up for the night, then resumed the following morning.
The jump leads were three metres long, perfect if you could place the cars front to front. Naturally, there was another car in front of hers, leaving only one option – to place our car alongside hers, blocking the road. Action stations – bonnets up. She found her battery was easy to access, so now for mine….
Just then, a car appeared up the street. I put my bonnet down, drove around a loop to let him pass, and tried again.
Bonnet up. To my horror, I realised there was a red cover over the positive terminal, and it didn’t respond to twisting, pulling, unclipping, anything. What could possess anyone to make a battery with a non-removable cover?
Another car appeared up the street. In complete exasperation I (rather more noisily) put my bonnet down, drove around the corner and stopped. I called Helen and told her I was going to take a few minutes then come back when I’d worked out what to do. I consulted the Honda manual which had a splendid picture of the battery – with no cover on!
“Please, Father, show me what to do!” I pleaded, not feeling a paragon of faith and self-confidence. I got out and opened my bonnet.
“Hello, John!” said a friendly voice that belonged to a Filippino lady. I knew Arlene and her husband Aldrin from Vision Church in Morley where Jane and I belonged before we joined St John’s four years ago. Unknowingly, I’d stopped immediately outside their house!! Aldrin quickly worked out that there were three lugs at the side of the cover. You could easily unclip them with a screwdriver, but he managed to do so bare-handed. I thanked Aldrin, drove back around the loop and stopped next to Helen. In no time at all we had the jump leads connected, and her engine roared into life.
If I had been my own guardian angel, I would have been quoting Philippians 4:6 to myself. “Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God…” I didn’t do very well, did I? But my Father still looked after me. I think He took particular delight in using members of another part of Jesus’ ‘body’ to come to my rescue. As Psalm 127 begins,
“How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!”