A timing chain breakdown on an almost deserted highway around 11 pm on a Saturday night in the least populated county in the East. Heading for a Christian conference Sunday morning I very much felt led to attend. It would take a miracle to make it.

Years ago I met Gil Bailie, a miracle in getting there at a conference near Baltimore, Maryland I wanted to go to. I headed out of town about 10 pm Saturday evening in May with my Mitsubishi pickup truck and a topper. I planned to drive until tired and then sleep. Meeting to start Sunday morning at a church.

Driving on Rt. 250 up Bullpasture Mountain in Highland County, my truck stopped working. I pulled over. Couldn’t get it going. 11 pm Saturday night. Hardly anyone out in the boondocks that time.

Someone stopped, checked it over, said he thought the timing belt was broken. Said to turn around and coast to the bottom of the mountain where a state trooper lived. I did that, as it was a manual transmission and I could back it around to turn around and coast to the bottom. I stopped at the trooper’s house. He said it was the timing chain. I called my wife. She hates to drive at night and said to sleep over, she would come the next morning. Ethan, our son, had a driver’s license but was getting back late that night from a track meet. The trooper said a mechanic near McDowell could likely fix it on a later day, maybe give him a call as he is up late at night. I called him. He said he’d come out in the morning. I crawled back in my pickup bed and went to sleep. 1 am.

A while later I woke to a truck. The mechanic had come. He loaded my truck on the flatbed and we went to his place several miles north of McDowell. He opened his shop, found a Mitsubishi timing belt, fixed it, and I was done at 3 am. I then took off for Baltimore, slept one hour somewhere, made the meeting, and from then on have learned a lot from Gil Bailie. 

But first, where anywhere in the world could someone get a vehicle fixed late Saturday night? Let alone a place in the lowest populated county in the East?

Back to faith. Here is a quote by Bailie. Hope – the theological virtue of hope – is hope against hope. (Romans 4:18) It begins after worldly hope has died of disappointment.

I believe faith is acting upon that hope. That is, faith is hope with legs, acting in faith and obedience to Jesus and his Kingdom Way even when everything around doesn’t add up. Hope is not optimism, in fact it is pessimism with the world and with our own capacity, but it is trust in God. As Hebrews 11:1 says, faith is the substance of hope, the evidence of things unseen. And by this the Elders (heroes of the faith) received a good report. 


Note: Gil Bailie is an interpreter of the theories of Rene Girard. This has deepened and matured my faith by giving me new eyes to see.