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God provides what we can’t

When my front right tire blew out, I was headed south on I-59, going back to my Hattiesburg apartment after a quick visit with my parents in Chunky.

I was traveling right at the speed limit, attempting to pass a slower-moving tractor-trailer rig on my right. I was behind another rig and with a third coming up in my rearview.

Then BAM — the tire went and I started the process of trying to keep my car on the pavement, ease over out of traffic and not get in the way of the much larger vehicle approaching my back bumper. Thankfully, this truck driver saw my predicament and stayed behind me until I could get pulled over in the edge of the median.

I got out and quickly surveyed the damage to my 1977 Chevrolet Impala station wagon. One of the longest vehicles known to man, built like a tank and able to seat 437 friends, two dogs and a hamster, my friends had dubbed it the Batmobile. Someone even bought me a classic Batman sticker to put on the back glass.

The sidewalls were nonexistent and the tread — which had slapped the fender like Godzilla palming a Tokyo skyscraper — was now wrapped around my axle.

The truck driver who had helped make sure nothing else hit my car jogged across the lanes from where he’d pulled over and asked if I was OK. He said he was impressed that I didn’t lose control of the car and I said it must have been a God thing.

I can still see this medium-build, black-haired man, probably in his 30s, who asked if he could help me swap out the tire and get safely back on the road. If this had happened recently, I’d have hugged the man and eagerly let him give all the help he wanted. But I was young and stupid, so I insisted I could do it myself, thanks for the offer.

I gave up trying to disengage the steel-belted radial from its python grip about an hour later, and walked the mile to the Heidelberg exit and a gas station where I could use a payphone to call my roommates. They grumbled and complained about having to come help me on their Sunday afternoon off. An hour and a half later, they had covered the 45 miles to pick me up and take me back to the car where the three of us could hopefully get this figured out.

When we pulled up at my car, something was different. The spare was lying next to the front wheel assembly, my X-shaped tire iron next to it. The entire length of steel-belted rubber that had been intertwined amongst the workings beneath the car was laid out in a line beside the car.

All that was left to be done was to put the new tire on, lower the car and throw all the rest in the back. Then I could get back on the road.

Both of my roommates were incredulous. “I can’t believe you called us when all you had to do was put the tire on,” etc., etc. But I knew that wasn’t the way I had left it. Someone — that same truck driver? Someone else? A messenger from God? — had come along and done for me what I had not been able to do.

No matter what anyone else said, I came away unharmed and aware that God had provided what I could not achieve myself.

Funny how that works, isn’t it?

The Batmobile survived a lot of mishaps and finally went up in a blaze of glory — well, just plain ol’ fire, really — but that’s a different story. And God provided during that time, too.

Brett Campbell is a car killer and can be reached at brett.campbell@dailyleader.com.