I don't think guys understand God the way that women do. Perhaps we do when we get older.
My wife is an amazing woman with an odd relationship with God. Many times I watch her pray for a close parking place when she goes to the store. No, really. She prays for that right in the car when she pulls in the parking lot. "Lord," she says, "please lead me to a good spot." I wouldn't dare do that. God has bigger things to worry about than where I park. But God loves us equally. He gives Darling close parking places because she asks; He gives me the ones further away because I need the exercise (and probably because I don't ask). Then she thanks God for the parking space. I don't usually thank Him for mine. (Maybe that's why she gets better spots.)
And Darling's faith doesn't waver. Her immediate response to the announcement of my layoff in April of 2009 was "God will take care of us." And I believe it, of course, but sometimes it's hard, especially for a guy, when the company you work at decides you are surplus. So my prayer sometimes sounds like this: "God, I'd sure like to know that you're keeping an eye on things, and I'd sure like some assurance that I'll be getting another job. And, uh, Lord, would you mind telling me what your plan is?" So God has to remind me. Even though I’d prefer a handwritten note left on the seat of my little Toyota, God works in different ways than we expect.
Darling goes to Bible Study on Wednesday mornings. Last Wednesday she got ready to go, but her car wouldn't start. So she called our auto service and they showed up. They pushed the car out of the garage and the tow truck driver tried to jump it. No luck. Since the local WalMart doesn’t have the right kind of battery for her car, they decided to tow it to the dealer.
Looks like a bad start to the day, and she is definitely missing bible study. She calls and tells me and I grumble. This sure isn't what we need right now. I'll be unemployed soon. "Right, God, so what's the plan with this one?" But God is in the answering business; it’s my listening that doesn’t always work well.
We have 100 mile towing with our auto service. So the tow truck guy towed the car to the dealership on the other side of Houston. This gave Darling quite a long time to talk with the (non-Christian) tow truck driver about Jesus, the Christ, Son of the Living God. He was of the opinion that Jesus was a prophet or teacher, but certainly not the Son of God. He listened politely for about an hour. (Really, what else is he going to do with a cute little blonde in his tow truck with him?) Now it's God's turn to work on him.
So she gets to the dealership and they look it over. It would be a few hundred dollars for the repairs, and I'm groaning. The whole situation just isn't working for me. Ah, but wait. Turns out we are covered by our warranty until FRIDAY (two more days). And, since we are still under warranty the repairs to the car are free. We also get a free oil change, they’ll wash the car, and we have the option to buy the extended warranty.
Normally the dealership would give her a loaner car, but her license is expired (she just had her birthday), so she has to wait for her car. While she’s waiting she meets the CEO of a local battered woman’s shelter. Darling is delighted to find a place to donate some of those closet clothes that take up space in the house. This same woman is studying for a state exam and incredibly nervous, so Darling prays with her and the woman cries tears of joy. “This is exactly what I needed,” she says. Of course it is. Our heavenly Father was no doubt waiting for these two to take a little time out and talk to Him.
The young girl working at the counter notices them talking and praying and crying and comes and talks to them a bit. Darling gets the chance to share the love of our Lord with this young girl, and prays for some of her needs.
Romans 8:28 still applies, doesn't it? “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (KJV)
Though bible study is a good thing, the Lord thinks that talking to someone who needs to know about Jesus is even better. And joining in prayer with a fellow believer is doing His work, which is what we're supposed to be doing anyway. Darling was a witness to those who know Him and those who don’t.
Our God isn't trying to scare us. Darling's car could have stopped working at the mall, the doctor's office, or any of a hundred places less convenient than the house. For some reason it stopped working at the house, near the phones and all the conveniences of home -- a place where she could wait and be secure.
I think He still expects us to pay what is necessary. I didn't get out of it totally free; the extended warranty was pricey. But I was able to buy some assurance that the car will remain working for the next five years. That's worth a bit. And I wouldn’t have that chance if this happened a week later.
God is in charge, and it is HIS timetable, not mine. If this happened a few months ago we wouldn't have thought a thing about it. If it happened a week later, we would be paying for the repairs.
Finally, I guess my Mom was right. Cleanliness is next to Godliness. That car sure needed to be washed.
I'm sure there are more lessons that I just don't see, and I'll keep thinking about it. I hope this story blesses you. I shouldn't be, but I am constantly astounded that the God of the Universe pays attention to my tiny life. And He is in control -- all the time - His time.