There are a lot of tires in my town. Different sizes and kinds.
I remember when I was young, I saw a set of tires in a parade. They must have been from out of town. They were ten feet tall and so wide. I counted sixteen of them, and the dump truck they carried could barely fit on the street. I was impressed. Big. Strong. Tires.
“How do they carry so much rock,” I asked my mom. She was an ordinary bike tire like me.
“Air pressure,” she said.
“Wow, that’s amazing!” I said. I had no idea what air pressure was. “I want some.”
One of the big tires said, “Stay in school kid.” I flopped over in shock. Mom had to help me up because I wasn’t too good at getting up when I flopped over. My rubber was soft and wiggly.
“He talked to me,” I told my mom. “The big one, talked to me. He said I should stay in school.”
“You are still too young for school,” Mom said.
I bounced all the way home after the parade. I don’t think I stopped bouncing for a week. “Will I get that big and strong at school, Mom?”
“Pick up your toys,” Mom replied.
“Do they have air pressure at school, Mom?”
“Go roll in the back yard for a while,” Mom said.
I got a poster of the dump truck tire team for my bedroom. I stared at it every night before I leaned against the wall. “When I go to school, I will get some air pressure and then I will be strong enough to carry a dump truck full of rocks!”
On my first day at school I asked my teacher, a short wide tracked tire with deep tread that looked intimidating, “Do you have air pressure at school?”
I didn’t see the joke, but since she laughed I laughed too.
“I want to carry dump trucks full of rocks when I grow up,” I told my best friend. He was so tall and thin that he couldn’t hold himself up to roll at all. He had to flip himself, end over end, in any direction he wanted to go.
“Me too!” said my friend. I had to roll really slow with my friend, but I didn’t mind.
No one at school knew about air pressure, not even the principal. I was really surprised because he was a farm tractor tire. He ought to know. His rubber was so thick that he didn’t slump at all when he rolled. I looked at his inside once and he was just as hollow as the rest of us. I got a poster of a farm tractor tire for my bedroom anyway. Even though it was hollow, it could really roll. Even through mud! Maybe I wouldn’t be able to carry a dump truck full of rock when I got older, but I had to, at least, find a way to not slump when I rolled.
Have you seen old tires? They slump so far down that their rubber starts cracking. It’s embarrassing. I don’t want that to happen to me. I finished school and my mom started to look a little worn on her edges.
“I have to figure this out,” I told myself. I rolled around town looking for any tires that weren’t hollow because I figured that was the secret. “If I can get rid of the empty space inside me, I won’t slump anymore when I roll.”
And I was right, I found a guy who had filled himself with concrete. He didn’t slump at all. Though if he fell over, he had to call someone to hoist him up. He weighed a hundred pounds. But still. Maybe he had the right idea.
I couldn’t find any concrete, so I tried gravel. I made so much noise rolling down the street. Everyone noticed me, which was awesome. The girls thought it was cool. Soon every guy in town had gravel rattling around inside him. An old tire, his tread worn bald, shouted at me one day, “You crazy kids are so loud that I can’t get a decent nap in the afternoon.”
My mom hated it too because I left a trail of gravel right through the house when I visited.
I gave it up eventually. It didn’t really fix me. I still slumped when I rolled. I still felt hollow. The old tire was right, I figured. Gravel filling was just a lot of stupid noise. One day, when he wasn’t napping, I asked him about my slumping problem. “Your problem is speed,” he said. “When I was your age, I rolled twice as fast as you. I never worried about slumping.”
That sounded like a great idea. I started racing wherever I went. Now that was fun. Sure, I bumped a few tires over and left a lot of my rubber on the road, especially at the turns. But when you are racing, there is no room for thinking about the bigger problems in life. I raced until I found a beautiful tire who thought I was pretty great too. We got married.
Soon, we had a nice, little place and baby tires rolling everywhere. It was great because she was wonderful. And the kids? I loved every one of them all the way around the block and back. I didn’t have time to think about slumping. I was too busy brushing treads for bedtime and cleaning up muddy tracks through the kitchen.
Once my wife got a tire sitter. She and I took a nice, slow roll around our neighborhood. I told her about the dump truck tires I had seen as a kid and how I still wished I knew how they carried all those rocks. She rolled really close to me and listened. Having a great tire like her to roll with felt great. Really. Wonderful. I was one lucky tire.
I still was hollow and slumping a little more each day. “No problem,” I told myself. “I’m just not as young as I used to be. Happens to every tire.” We decided to get a tire sitter more often and we were soon taking rolls every Friday night.
Every morning I woke and saw all of my kids chasing each other around the house. “Look at all the great tires in my life. It doesn’t matter that my tread is half gone and my slump is worsening.”
Still, I felt hollow. How did those tires carry all those rocks? I couldn’t answer the question and I couldn’t give it up. It began to haunt my dreams. One day, I decided. “We’re going on a vacation!” Talk about excited! We had tracks right up the walls after that announcement.
We traveled to the big city where they had a giant amusement park. Jumps. Coasters. Water rides. Animals. I couldn’t keep up with everything. They even had air conditioned paths so your rubber didn’t get so hot. They’d thought of everything at that place. We rolled so many miles that even my kids were slumping.
When we leaned against the wall that night, we were all out like a light.
The little tires grew up too fast. They went to school. We didn’t need a tire sitter anymore, but we still took rolls every Friday night. My wife was slumping a bit too, but she still rolled close. I figured we had done pretty well for ourselves, but I was still missing something. It bothered me.
I tried to stop worrying about it. “There are some things you just aren’t mean to figure out, right?” I told myself.
I began taking afternoon naps on the front porch. I remember one year, kids began putting gravel in their tires again. My wife and I laughed and laughed. Even crazy ideas come around again.
The old guy who filled himself with concrete accidentally rolled himself into the lake. That was three summers back.
Tires are racing from place to place, faster every year. I started taking more naps.
Then, one hot summer day, I saw something that made me flop right over. My wife had to help me back onto my tread. We stared over the hedge at our new neighbors. The four of them were carrying a whole wagon! I couldn’t believe what I was seeing, so I rolled around the hedge to get a closer look. They weren’t hollow. In fact they all had some kind of doohickey contraption inside their rubber. I felt a thrill of excitement in my threads. Each one of them could hook right into the wagon and lift it up as easy as that.
I bounced over to them and forgot to welcome them to the neighborhood. “How much did you pay for that doohickey?”
“Oh. We didn’t buy them. They were a gift,” said the guy.
I couldn’t understand what I was even seeing. “How do they work?” I felt like a kid at the parade.
The guy with the doohickey set down his corner of the wagon and rolled over. “They have three parts. The Hub is the part in the center. The wheel is the part with the wires and rim.”
The chrome wheel glistened in the sunlight.
“And the third part is air pressure,” He explained.
I flopped over again, right in front of him. “Air Pressure! You know about air pressure?”
“Yes, The Wheel Maker gave us some,” the guys seemed surprise at my flopping, but I didn’t care.
“I have been trying to find some air pressure since I was a boy!” I said, still flat on the ground. “Can you get some for me? I really want some air pressure.”
“We don’t know how to give you air pressure,” said the guy’s wife. I noticed she had the same doohickey inside her tire, but it was yellow. What was it? A hub. A wheel and air pressure. I got up onto my treads.
“I have to have some. I have been searching since I was young,” I said.
“We’ve got his phone number. You should call him.”
I remembered the dump truck tires carrying all that rock. “Your wagon. It must weigh a ton.”
“It’s heavy,” said the guy. “But not too much.”
“I can’t believe it,” I said.
“Call the wheel Maker, he’ll fix you up,” said my new neighbor.
The Wheel Maker. How could such a person exist when no one in town knew about him? I called the number. “The wheel Maker will arrive at your house shortly,” said the message.
“How? I haven’t told you my address.”
I called my kids, “Bring everyone. The Wheel Maker is coming to my house.”
All the kids and Grandtires had barely arrived when a man knocked on the door. I opened the door and invited him in.
He held something in his hand. “I was so happy to get your call,” He said.
“You were?” I asked.
He held a dusty doohickey in his hand. It had a old worn tag tied to it with yellowing string. “Yes, I made this for you long ago and it’s just been gathering dust all these years.”
“You made that for me?” I couldn’t believe it.
“Yes, see the serial numbers match,” The Wheel Maker rubbed the dust off the tag and bent over so I could read it. He was right. The numbers matched mine.
“I knew something was missing,” I said. “I saw the giant tires carrying the dump truck full of rock. They weren’t hollow and slumping like everyone else.”
“Ah. Yes. They are a part of my team. My family,” said The Wheel Maker. He knelt down and looked at me. “Will you accept my gift? My hub will be the center of everything you do. My wheel will be your strength. My air pressure will hold everything together.”
“I don’t have enough money for this,” I said.
“It’s not for sale,” The Wheel Maker said. “It’s my gift, made specifically for you. Will you accept it?”
“Yes. Yes and yes!” I shouted.
The Wheel Maker smiled and picked me up. Somehow, he put his doohickey contraption inside my rubber and filled me with air. It happened so fast, it surprised me. I felt completely different. Like a totally new tire. My family gasped.
“How do I look?” I asked them. They were speechless.
“See for yourself,” The Wheel Maker said, and held up a mirror. I had a strong hub, a shiny wheel. I could feel the air pressure inside of me, like a miracle.
“I am whole. Finally. I am complete.”
“Yes, you are,” said The Wheel Maker.
I couldn’t help myself. I ran a track right up the wall. “I feel right. For the first time in my life, nothing is missing!”
“Welcome to my family,” said The Wheel Maker.
I couldn’t contain myself. I yelled, “I once was hollow and empty. But now I am whole. I once was slumping. But now I am strong.” I rolled outside and shouted it again and again. I couldn’t stop until everyone single tire in town had heard me. “I once was hollow, but now I am whole.”
On our own, we are hollow and incomplete. Only The Maker can fill the void at our center.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
“You make know to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence…”
- What do you long for in life?
- Identify some things you thought would bring you wholeness and fulfillment, but did not?
- What would happen if you invited the Maker to fill the void at your center?