The A.A. is composed of a fine body of men who brave rain, hail or snow to get us poor stranded motorists mobile again. You will notice that I have placed myself among these wretched creatures who call at houses in the middle of the night and usually in the middle of nowhere begging to be allowed to use the ‘phone, all because of the failure of one part of the thousands of parts that go to make up the modern motor car.
I was preaching in Co. Armagh the other Sunday. Having conducted the services we set off on our homeward track, fortified for the journey by a cup of tea from the ladies. It was one of those Sundays when everything seemed to be going our way. The old motor seemed in good tune, as well she might, having been tuned the previous week. We passed through Scarva, on to Banbridge and on to the dual carriageway. Then suddenly, without warning, there appeared to be a feeling of unease under the bonnet (the car’s, not my wife’s). I had the suspicion of a certain reluctance to respond to the accelerator. The whole car seemed to shudder uncomfortably as she ground to a halt. Fifteen seconds later! turned the key, she started. I had a feeling that all was not well. After all, cars are expected to respond to the will of the driver. It had by now become evident that this particular motor was in a state of rebellion against my wishes. Mind you I didn’t think for one moment that my wishes, which were merely to get home or as they say nowadays from A to 8, were anything but reasonable, especially after lavishing such care and fond attention upon one of my cherished possessions.
We started, we stopped. We got stuck half way up a steep hill. The locals on both sides of the street drew their curtains and looked anxiously outside. No doubt being suspicious of anything that made such dreadful noises at that time of night. After much accelerating we crawled to the summit. Then down the other side. I have come to the conclusion that my car, like a lot of people prefers to go down hill
One and a half miles on the road from Dromore to Ballynahinch she stopped and refused to budge. “We must get to a phone”, said my wife optimistically. “Who is going to let us use their phone at this hour of the night’, I replied pessimistically. The first and only door we knocked at were most kind and understanding and allowed us to use their phone. I searched for my A.A. membership card, found it, and dialled. A calm and reassuring voice at the other end of the line asked me for details such as, membership number, registration number of the car, position of the car. “We’ll be out in twenty minutes,” said he. “Stay with the vehicle”, he advised. “Not much else we can do”, grumbled I.
In twenty minutes time with amber lights flashing “yer man” arrived. Our hopes were raised and we began to feel important. “Lift up the bonnet”, said he. “Petrol”, said he. “Can’t be”, said I, having got £7 worth of the best the day before. “Water”, said he. I began to wish he would make up his mind. “Water in the petrol”, he continued, illustrating his point by spilling some of the liquid on the roadway. Sure enough there it could be seen, water and petrol just don’t mix.
“I’ll contact the breakdown truck and we’ll tow you home. Expect him to arrive in about twenty minutes”. Our friendly A.A. man left us to go to another breakdown. About forty minutes later the breakdown truck arrived. The formalities completed he hitched our ailing machine to his big strong yellow truck.
Well, we are back home again, a bit worse for wear, but nevertheless firing on all cylinders. The car is in the garage recovering from the ordeal.
I suppose one should learn from ones experiences. One lesson I did learn from this episode is that petrol and water just don’t mix and to ignore this rule can cause a breakdown.
I don’t suppose the Apostle Paul ever drove a car. However, he did know that there are some things that don’t mix. After all did he not say; “Be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers”.
There is many a life broken down and stationary by the roadside because this rule has been ignored.