One of the most wonderful things about knowing God is that there's always so much more to know, so much more to discover. Just when we least expect it, He intrudes into our neat and tidy notions about who He is and how He works.
~ Joni Eareckson Tada ~
I've always been a firm believer in the power of prayer. My first encounter with God was the result of a "Hail Mary" prayer I sent up as a ten-year-old. I knew God could do anything. I just needed to be bold enough to ask for it. So, shortly after I was married, I decided upon three things I wanted in my life in the next five to ten years. I started asking God for a house, a baby and a van. I was flexible enough that I didn't even care what order they came in. (I'm good like that!)
God granted my first "wish" with a baby that had to have been conceived on our very first try. See, you just have to believe.
Next to come was the house which was nothing short of a miracle. Of the four years we'd been married, we had only one year where both of us worked full-time, so we weren't exactly rolling in the dough. Yet God provided a great little house for us in an unexpected way. Check number two. Way to go, God.
One more thing and my life would be complete. The trouble is it took a while for the van. I told myself we didn't really NEED a van. We only had one kid, so a van was probably overkill. I didn't quit believing, but I didn't stop praying either. A few years later came kid #2 and things were a little more cramped in our Chevy Cavalier, but God provided a bigger car and we were fine. When we filled the back seat of the Corsica a few years later with kid #3, I knew our want had become a need and I got excited knowing His word promised, "my God will meet all your needs. . ."
True to His form, God directed us to the van. Not just any van, one with all the bells and whistles. Very cool. It was almost too good to be true. We had spent all of our married life scraping by and this was MORE than what we NEEDED, so I felt a little guilty. I reminded myself I had been praying for this for years. I needed to be thankful, not distrustful.
I didn't sleep well the night we brought the van home. A general sense of anxiety kept me awake most of the night. I tried to shrug it off as being worried about the money, but I knew it was more than that a few days later as I was reading the paper. I saw an article about the dealership where we purchased the van. The owner had been arrested for fraud. People were paying for cars, but not receiving the titles on them so they couldn't claim ownership on them. Banks started repossessing the purchased cars to pay the debt of the dealer. My heart started beating pretty hard. Guess who hadn't received their title yet?!
The nightmare got worse when the transmission suddenly went kaput. We were facing a $1700 repair for a van we didn't officially own. Add to our financial worry the cost of an attorney to help us sort out the mess and this tight wad was stressed out!! I wasn't exactly thrilled with the "answered prayer" that sat in my driveway for four months.
God, what are we doing here? I implored. I've prayed about this for nearly ten years. I trusted You to provide. But this...this is scary. Are you going to get us through?
One day in the thick of the ordeal, an unusual thing happened. I got a phone call from the wife of the dealer. She was a smooth talker and I imagined this being an embarrassment for her with her country club friends. I was polite, but inside I was seething. I wanted to tell her, "We live in a little house with three little kids and live on one income. You and your husband's irresponsibility are causing a major upheaval in my family's financial picture. Don't expect any favors from me." But I didn't. I let her talk. She tried to make excuses I didn't buy and promises I didn't believe. She wanted us to give them more time to make good on our deal, but the practical side of me knew that was going to be pretty much impossible while her husband sat in jail. Yet something in me felt bad for her so I finally said, "Look, you know we can't let this go, but you need to know I'm going to pray for you. I can't imagine the pressure you are under right now."
She quit schmoozing me immediately and got very quiet. When she finally did speak, her voice cracked, "Yes, yes I am. Thank you for your prayers. We really need them."
I never heard from her again and I have no idea what happened to her or her family. We ended up being one of the lucky ones, actually getting our title. After a costly repair, life went on as normal for us. Others were not so fortunate. One couple lost $20,000.
As I look back on it now, that four months was a minor blip in the story of our lives, yet at the time it threatened to be financial disaster. It didn't fit into my plan of who God was. It made no sense, but God taught me some VERY IMPORTANT lessons.
I learned life is not all about me (go figure!). I found He is trustworthy, especially when I can't see a way out. He taught me not to get too far ahead of myself. The concept of resting in His Word became very real. I grasped what it meant to care for the pain of another in the midst of my own. He showed me all people worry and hurt no matter what kind of facade they project. He taught me to live one day at a time.
Were those lessons worth four months of anxiety and turmoil? At the time I would have said no, but now, well now I know they were needed and I am thankful.
What about you? Are you in the middle of a trying situation wondering where God is? Do you doubt He is listening to you? Does it feel like He's left you out to dry? God may not always work how we would like, but HE IS ALWAYS WORKING. Can you trust Him for that? Can you wait on His timing and keep praying, knowing He is orchestrating what is best for all?
Visit Susan at Forever His for more impressions of this quote.