Turning the key, we began driving away from the Chattanooga gas station close to where we were vacationing in our RV. We had just enjoyed an evening in downtown Chattanooga enjoying a great meal of BBQ overlooking the city and a few hours at the children’s museum. I had stopped to fill our family vehicle with gas – the only vehicle we had to drive around and the one vehicle which held all nine of us.
Karen was departing the next day to drive to Birmingham to speak at a conference in the vehicle. I, along with our seven kids, were heading back to Atlanta in our RV and I wanted to get a ‘lay of the land’ of the same fuel station before I brought our oversized RV.
I cranked up the car to head across the bridge to get on the highway ramp to head a few miles away to our RV which was back over the Georgia line in a rural, mountainous RV park. Then it began.
My dashboard lit up like Time Square.
I coasted down the ramp onto the expressway and rested our vehicle filled with all nine of us on the shoulder. We sat. It began to turn dark and cars, trucks, and transfer trucks were flying by us. Some shook our vehicle as the wind would rock us as they sped by.
Trying to decipher the problem, I could only think gas could be the issue.
‘Jacob, what color was the handle of the fuel pump?’
‘Green,” he replied.
Yes, my 16 year old Jacob had filled our SUV with diesel fuel instead of the standard unleaded fuel.
What transpired for the rest of the evening was blank. All I remember was googling a repair shop, the repair man fitting all of us (yes, all nine of us) in his truck to take us back to our RV. Him talking to me about Jesus. Though I was raised in the south, I could only understand every other word. I was too out of it and stressed out to share I was a pastor or even a believer. I just stood there and listened.
The next day, Karen unfortunately missed her conference. We missed our time to leave to head back to Atlanta. That night, we finally got our phone call it was ready to be picked up after flushing all of the diesel out of the vehicle and having to do some minor repairs on the engine.
$1266.64. That was the cost of the damage done.
I never said a word to Jacob. Never raised my voice. Never asked or said “What were your thinking? You filled up the car a million times!” He didn’t know the difference between the green or the black handle.
The reason why is Jacob is much more valuable than $1266.64. He is more important than 126,664 copper pennies. He is priceless. He (and you and I) are what Jesus called in Luke 16 “true riches.” Karen and I have many great things which will one day deteriorate and fade away. Our kids though are eternal and we try our best to value and appreciate the true riches they are in our life and who they are going to be to others.
Though this was an emotionally stressful and financially stressful event, I never felt more like Daddy God. How many times have I messed up, made a mistake, didn’t know what I was doing? Yet, God’s grace covered and His mercy flowed beyond what I thought I deserved. I am the apple of His eye. He values me and I must carry the same love, grace, and mercy to our children as well as others around us.
Today, we laugh a lot about the incident. Almost every time we get to a gas station and he is asked to fuel it, we all say, “The black one, Jacob. NOT the green one!”
As a reminder of that day, I keep the spark plugs the mechanic returned to me which he had to change in the drivers door pocket of my vehicle. They clang every time I open my door reminding me to walk in grace and value others more than things.
Value your children more than anything. They are true riches. Value those around you – your family, your neighbors, your employees and co-workers and yes, even strangers. They are worth more than any things. They are priceless. Make sure every day every one around you experience their true value – priceless.
For more encouraging post for parenting and/or adoption, enjoy the following: