Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Full Sized Answer to Prayer

The Mothership

A year ago, God answered a prayer, and I've been meaning to share the tale. Here it is now.

Our story begins with an odd smell and a funny noise on a long country road near a place called Wanaksink, New York.

It was clearly engine trouble, thanks to that helpful little indicator light on our Ford station wagon's console. We'd bought it used when we had our first baby and needed a little more room- Chris' Neon was a 2-door, and my Escort was a 4-door only in name -- in practice, the back doors wouldn't unlock to open anymore, which made getting people in and out of the back seat interesting and moving a baby car seat in and out pretty much on par with a houdini contortion exercise. So we'd let go of the escort (it had been mine, from my Dad when I first was driving to work) donating it with all of it's interesting little quirks (Jiggle the shifter before you start it...) to a charity and waving goodbye. We had recently had a bout of repair attempts on Chris' Neon, and the fixes had mounted to the point that we were pretty sure age had totaled it for us. Another donation tow truck had carted it off too. We'd gotten a minivan to accommodate our family when we had outgrown the station wagon. But we'd left the family at home with sitters for the weekend, so it was just us, on a crazy adventure, alone, with only baby Penny. The minivan needed some work done and so it was sitting in the driveway. We would deal with that when we got back.

And now the station wagon was pretty much out of commission. We weren't sure it would go another mile and we were pretty sure we were too far from any signs of civilization. So it was nothing short of miraculous to find a town ahead with a campground sign as it's only offering to the passing travelers. It wasn't much, but we took it because we didn't have any other options at this point aside from hope for a station, somewhere. We went along pretty slowly as Chris tried to nurse it without completely ending our engine.

Lo and behold, the mechanic's had a rental car service. I found it odd because it was hardly a destination location- no trains, planes, or buses, no businesses nearby. But we'd happened to land the one place we could find some wheels. We rented a car, packed the baby into it and continued to our weekend homeschool conference. Along the way we talked about the costs of engine replacement versus getting a new-used car to replace our second vehicle.

"What if we don't replace it?" I remember asking.

Penny in the hotel on our trip to Rochester in 2012

I wouldn't have a car while Chris had it on workdays, of course. But if there was anything I really wanted to do, we could drop him off at work so we could use the car and pick him up after. We were filling up every seat in the minivan anyway. Sam's legs were outgrowing the seating in the back of the minivan and the baby carseats were all jam packed with the kid booster seats. We would need a bigger car, not another little one. So why not wait to buy and save up our cash?

We went with that idea. When we got back, we had the minivan fixed, we had the station wagon scrapped and taken off the insurance. I stayed home more and I really kinda liked it. I tend towards being a hermit- even when I'm out and about, I like my space and I'm socially awkward. I like you I just don't know how to be likable or something. I know some people call this being introverted, but I'm hyper self aware and I think that's a character hazard in me, because I need to be more focused on others and less on myself. Still, having more time at home helped me to improve my parenting, my housekeeping methods and perspective and I think it was a good season.

Where would we stow one more kid? Don't mind the toothpaste on the mirror.

Penny was about two and we were expecting again. Now there was clearly a time limit on how long we'd fit in our seven passenger mini van. Every evening, we prayed as a family for God to provide the right full sized van.  We had only managed to save $5,000. But the full sized used vans we were seeing ran over $20,000. And most were very bare bones- no AC or carpet or interior door paneling.

We kept praying and we kept looking.

God doubled our money with a bonus and sizable tax return. But it still seemed only half of what we needed. The due date was coming. In fact, we were due to have Robbie any moment. We would either need a loan or have to by a small used car and start an actual caravan when traveling as a family. Chris said, no, we would not go in debt for this car. We are not called to keep being in debt. We kept praying but we didn't know how God was going to provide double the money again.

Instead, He halved the price!

My Dad was watching Craig's List for us and came across a clean, privately owned Ford E350 XLT (the XLT meant all the trimmings!) for almost exactly what we had in the savings account for the van! We test drove it and it felt like just the thing. What was the hook? Well, it had liens on it. I believe the price reflected the likely difficulty of selling a vehicle that wasn't paid off yet. Chris was patient even in the face of silly name calling from the seller (Chris is a nervous Nellie, apparently. That's what you get for being thorough and careful); Chris just distrusted handing over the cash would mean a payment of the loan or that the bank would clear it from the title properly before the transfer. We considered just backing away from the purchase, except we knew what a rare find and a good price we were looking at from months spent looking at the going rates. Thanks to that body of experience, we decided to pursue the buy. Chris walked through the paperwork one step at a time and asked for signed agreements and paid the loan, then paid the seller the difference and had the title transferred completely lien-free!

For the first time in our married life, we have purchased a vehicle debt free from day one. God provided. He asked us to be faithful with what we had and he doubled it. He asked us to do without for a time and even made doing without a blessing in itself. He asked us to wait even when it seemed we were out of time- but He extended our time with a late arrival! He even went over the top and gave us more than just the bare necessities.

It's so bright out here in the world.

 He's always done this- provided just what we need just in the moment we need it. I want to be anxious for nothing, I want to be like the people (my Dad, the generous managers at work, my mom who drove us in her full sized van once a week, my sister who babysat while we van hunted etc) who participated in being a blessing to us as part of God's answer to prayer. I actually am glad our engine died on the day it did, because I'm so excited about what He did in my heart and how He provided something better. I'm so glad our kids got to see the answer to our prayer pulled into the driveway.

Of course, my heart knows that many of God's beloved (everyone is beloved of God!) around the world today have no vehicle and many of them, no way to maintain and fuel one if they wanted one. They have problems much more basic than personal modes of travel.  I look at the way I'm blessed and I cry out in prayer for those who have unmet needs. I try to be an answer to those needs in the ways I can practically be. I also know He is working out His kingdom in their hearts and lives too.

Because... Cat on the internet.

So, I don't want this testimony to be misconstrued as the Joel Osteen brand of prosperity gospel "Pray for a swimming pool and someone will show up to install it for free! Just ask God!" No. But, if we are doing what He's called us to, seeking after His righteousness, and we need something to perform the work He's called us to, we are invited to make our *needs* known to God. And we can trust that He will provide for us according to His will, either the thing we seek or another way to accomplish what is needed or a clearer idea of what is actually needed. And we can watch and be surprised by the unexpected ways He shows up in our lives. Even when it seems He's not answering the way we'd like, or not coming through on our time table. He's heard you and He has it worked out, just be faithful and trust and have eyes to see.

Workin on it

From Matthew 6:19-34
“Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.
“Your eye is a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is good, your whole body is filled with light. But when your eye is bad, your whole body is filled with darkness. And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is!
“No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

“That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

“And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?

“So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

And Proverbs 22
Choose a good reputation over great riches;
being held in high esteem is better than silver or gold.

The rich and poor have this in common:
The Lord made them both.

A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions.
The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences.

True humility and fear of the Lord
lead to riches, honor, and long life.

Corrupt people walk a thorny, treacherous road;
whoever values life will avoid it.

Direct your children onto the right path,
and when they are older, they will not leave it.

Just as the rich rule the poor,
so the borrower is servant to the lender.

Those who plant injustice will harvest disaster,
and their reign of terror will come to an end.

Blessed are those who are generous,
because they feed the poor.

Throw out the mocker, and fighting goes, too.
Quarrels and insults will disappear.

Whoever loves a pure heart and gracious speech
will have the king as a friend.

The Lord preserves those with knowledge,
but he ruins the plans of the treacherous.

The lazy person claims, “There’s a lion out there!
If I go outside, I might be killed!”

The mouth of an immoral woman is a dangerous trap;
those who make the Lord angry will fall into it.

A youngster’s heart is filled with foolishness,
but physical discipline will drive it far away.

A person who gets ahead by oppressing the poor
or by showering gifts on the rich will end in poverty.

Listen to the words of the wise;
apply your heart to my instruction.

For it is good to keep these sayings in your heart
and always ready on your lips.

I am teaching you today—yes, you—
so you will trust in the Lord.

I have written thirty sayings for you,
filled with advice and knowledge.

In this way, you may know the truth
and take an accurate report to those who sent you.

Don’t rob the poor just because you can,
or exploit the needy in court.
For the Lord is their defender.
He will ruin anyone who ruins them.

Don’t befriend angry people
or associate with hot-tempered people,

or you will learn to be like them
and endanger your soul.

Don’t agree to guarantee another person’s debt
or put up security for someone else.

If you can’t pay it,
even your bed will be snatched from under you.

Don’t cheat your neighbor by moving the ancient boundary markers
set up by previous generations.

Do you see any truly competent workers?
They will serve kings
rather than working for ordinary people.

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