When Pastor Rick Warren and his wife, Kay, first launched Saddleback Church, they faced some lean times financially, but one man’s obedience touched their hearts with a shining example of uncommon faith.
“When we started Saddleback we had no money,” Warren recounted at a recent conference. “When we needed a vacation, Kay’s parents had a little trailer outside Flagstaff, Arizona sitting on a piece of land. So we drove up there for a week.”
They traveled to Flagstaff in a 25-year-old station wagon showing its age. During the vacation they decided they would visit the Grand Canyon.
As they headed north toward the popular tourist destination, they were suddenly pulled over by a police officer.
As the officer approached the car, Warren wondered what he had done wrong.
“Sir, your left rear tire is so bald it’s going to blow any time,” the officer informed them.
“Where is the nearest tire place?” Warren asked.
“There isn’t any.”
“What about a gas station?”
“There’s only one, about 30 miles up the road, but they’re not going to have anything,” the officer replied.
Rick and Kay decided they would keep going, hoping to find the service station before the tire blew. “We found the gas station and pulled in in the middle of nowhere. There was nobody around.”
“Do you have any tires?” he asked the attendant.
“No, we don’t have any tires,” the man replied.
Warren’s heart sank and he began to fill his gas tank.
At that moment a car coming from the Grand Canyon pulled in on the other side. A man got out and started filling his tank. Warren noticed he had Mississippi license plates.
“Oh, you’re from Mississippi,” Warren began, as they engaged in small talk.
“What do you do?” the man inquired.
“I’m actually a pastor,” Warren said.
“Oh, I’m a deacon in a Baptist Church in Mississippi.”
“Is that so? Where have you been?”
“We’ve been all the way to Seattle and now we’re coming back through Arizona and heading back to Mississippi.”
“Well, since you’re a Christian I’m going to ask you to pray for me. I have to get a tire,” Warren said, explaining the seriousness of their situation.
“Wait just a minute…let me check,” the man said. He went to the back of his station wagon and pulled out a tire.
The tire perfectly fit Warren’s car!
Rick and Kay were amazed as the man explained the provenance of the tire. “When we were going to Seattle from Mississippi,” he began, “as I was going through Missouri, God said, ‘I want you to buy this tire.’
“It doesn’t even fit my car. But I carried it on this entire vacation – a tire that doesn’t fit my car. I carried it all the way to Seattle, went all the way to the Grand Canyon, and I just happened to pull in when you, a pastor, needed a tire.
“I feel like I just have to give it to you,” he added sheepishly.
Warren marvels at the man’s obedience to God’s direction.
“Would you have enough faith if you were on vacation and God said to buy a tire in Missouri and carry it all the way to Seattle and bring it back to Arizona, and I’m not even going to tell you why you got it?
“That’s faith. Faith is obedience.”
Mark Ellis is the founder of God Reports, a website devoted to promoting Christian missions by sharing stories and testimonies from missionaries and mission organizations.
He is also a contributing writer for Asssist News Service. More at AssistNews.net and GodReports.com.