Five Spiritual Survival Tools for Homeschool Family Vacation – What to do When the Car Breaks Down

Editor’s Note: Has car trouble ever dampened a homeschool family vacation? Too often, it’s not just the breakdown of the family van, but the breakdown of the family spirit, and communication, that defeats us. In this post, Kenneth Berding, professor of New Testament at Talbot Theological Seminary and homeschool dad, writes about the car troubles that he and his family have experienced on summer vacations. We’re grateful he’s shared his reflection with us. Read it here, or visit his blog, Kindle Afresh.

Kid in SUV pointing down a mountainside – Spiritual Tools for Homeschool Family Vacation Blog

Just Another Homeschool Family Vacation

“It wouldn’t be a Berding vacation without car trouble!”

So remarked one of my adult daughters two days ago just after her tire shredded on the California freeway on our way to a family vacation at Lake Arrowhead. Unbelievably, this is family vacation seven (yes, #7!) in which we’ve found ourselves in an auto shop. A blown tire in New Mexico…a wiped out transmission near Klamath Falls, Oregon…then again in Central California…then again on a different vacation at Lake Tahoe (whereby I promptly sold the car to a mechanic)…a complete electrical failure on the California-Nevada border (towed all the way to Las Vegas)…another blown tire on the road to San Luis Obispo for a wedding…and finally, my daughter’s shredded tire two days ago. Maybe my cars are just demon-possessed (joking, of course). But along the way, I’ve learned a few things about how God might want us to respond in such situations. Here are five that come immediately to mind:

Five Spiritual Survival Tools for Car Trouble 

  1. Immediately remind yourself that you aren’t in charge; God is. Despite all your pre-vacation planning, God may have other purposes for your vacation than you do. Let me repeat this: God is in control, you aren’t.
  2. Remember that spiritual warfare might be involved. I can’t tell you how to know for certain that evil spirits are involved. But it is helpful to remember that car troubles aren’t always only about tires, transmissions, and tow trucks; at least occasionally you might get harassed by evil spirits. Stand strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might, as the Apostle Paul instructs us.
  3. Remember that car problems are a wonderful opportunity to teach your children how to trust in the Lord. How are your children going to learn how to lean into the Spirit and depend upon Christ when they face something truly difficult in the future? Unexpected car problems are a wonderful opportunity to model for your children what it looks like to trust the Lord during trying times.
  4. Don’t forget to stop and thank the Lord for his protection. I’m aware as I write this that some of you have actually lost loved ones through car accidents (driving is, after all, the most dangerous daily activity most of us engage in). I’m as thankful as I can be that no one has been hurt during any of our vacation car mishaps. If that’s the case for you during a car misadventure, stop and thank the Lord. Be sure to pray no matter what circumstance you find yourself.
  5. Remind yourself to treat service people (upon whom you must depend) with grace, patience, and appreciation. They didn’t cause your problem. They’re trying to do their jobs. They are people God loves and for whom Jesus died for. Be sure to treat them with respect.

More Helpful Insights for Homeschool Family Vacation

I just walked in the cabin where we’re staying and asked Trudi (wife), Grace (daughter driving the shredded-tire car), and Ana (passenger in the shredded-tire car) what they would add to my list. Here are a few of their comments:

“Stay calm.”

“Don’t get mad or blame other people in the car.”

“Pout for a few minutes, then move on.”

“Laugh about it.”

“Take pictures and post them online so everyone feels sorry for you.”

“Eat burgers and fries at an In-N-Out while your car is in the shop. No one likes to be around someone who is hangry (=hungry + angry).”

“Don’t let it ruin your entire vacation. In fact, incorporate it into your vacation memories. It can become a precious family memory for years to come if you’ll respond in a God-honoring way.”

I hope you remember a few of these thoughts if you ever find yourself in an auto shop during a homeschool family vacation.

At least you’ll know that the Berdings understand.