Two years ago, at this same time of year, I found myself with a terminally ill car and not enough resources to get another one of any better quality. It wasn’t that I didn’t save my money. It wasn’t that I didn’t live within my means. It’s just that my savings and my means didn’t add up to much for a hit this big. I required serious rescue of the air lift kind. Friends, a term not near enough big to describe them, found me a car and wrote me a check and I had a “new” ride. I was beyond grateful. Five days later, to all of our dismay, I found myself broken down on the side of the road on the Fourth of July. I’d been sold a lemon. The man who took my money was enjoying a vacation in Florida with the spoils and wouldn’t answer my calls for days. My friends, already having rescued me above and beyond, loaned me one of their cars while we figured out what to do. And all the while, my heart looked up and I whispered aloud…”You’re a good, good Father.” I was determined to trust Him no matter what. The no matter what part was beginning to stretch me.
I finally got the money back, after finding my big girl voice and asserting it all shakey and tinny sounding in my ears; there is no time like car trouble to make my single woman status feel like a cold wind blowing lonely. Take the money, my friends said. You will need it. See, the week before my car died, I’d taken ahold of what seemed like a wild dream and enrolled my girl in a private school. “Trust Me. That’s where I want her,” I kept hearing. But God. That’s impossible. “Yes. I know.” But God……I say that a lot…..I have to buy a car. “Yes I know.” He says that a lot. So, we waited to “hear” what to do next. “Girl,” one of my friends said on the other end of the phone the next day. “I had a dream about you in a cream colored car. I’m believing for you!”
Day two aboard the waiting train dawned bright and clear. My girl was sleeping in. It was a Saturday. “Will you be at home this morning?”, my phone dinged with the message. “Yes?”, I replied with a question mark in my mind. I hadn’t seen these people in two years. They lived just a few miles away but life and work and busy makes a few miles feel like another state. They’d be there soon, they said, and I scurried to vaccume and look prepared. Within the hour they sat on my couch holding a piece of paper, clearly there for a reason. Their girl was going away to college and they wanted to get her a new car. They placed a key in my hand. It’s not much but we want you to have her old car. For a split second I couldn’t hear their voices, like the stop action in a movie when the main character keeps moving and everything around him freezes? Is this real? Did I hear them right? It wasn’t a cream colored car but…..it was a car! I stood on the porch and watched them pull away as I waved. It was then that a thought blew quiet in my mind. I now have a car and the extra money to put my girl in her school. They moved to Florida weeks later and I’ve not seen them again after that day; two people who did a good turn with no expectation.
Two years go by. It’s 4th of July week, 2017. A few weeks prior, I’d had significant work done on my car to keep it healthy. However, it had an underlying condition that had gone undetected and I waited nervously at work to get the call from the mechanic on it’s diagnosis. “You should probably look for another vehicle,” I heard in my ear and I hung up the phone and cried. I’d just drained much of my bank account. I drove myself home that night in a borrowed car, too tired to think about a solution, too worried to stop thinking. My prayer that night was one word. “God?” I began another ride on the waiting train.
“Please don’t be upset with us,” read the message. ” We want to do this for you.” My work friends had set up a funding account on my behalf. I was struck by the joy it brought everyone to see the account filling up, the excited messages I got from people checking to watch the amount rise! In three days time, a car was found and fully funded by friends in my town, friends from back in Illinois from high school that I haven’t seen in years and people whose names I did not even know. I pulled into the driveway of the pastor who was selling the car. Do you mind if I pray over the car for you, he asked, before I drove away. He gently laid his hand on the car…”Father, let this car serve her long and well.”
I sat on my porch swing that night reading the words in Walking to Listen by Andrew Forsthoefel, a young man who felt listening to each other was a lost virtue and he aimed to find a way. So, he strapped a “Walking to Listen” sign on his back pack and trekked from Pennsylvania to California with a tape recorder and a shakey, open heart to hear. At the end of his journey, as he prepared to walk onto the beach near Half Moon Bay, he looked up to see a large group of people waiting for him, many of them he’d met and/or stayed with along the way. He was washed over with emotion.
“The people were like my footsteps; every one of them was necessary. Each contributed to the movement. We were inextricably bound together, giving and receiving, speaking and listening, seeing and being seen. We were all walking, side by side. We were the walk itself, all of us, every one. What a way to walk, for us. What a way to live, to live for others, experiencing light and dark and every shade in between so that the experiences might be an offering for someone else someday, so that my life might serve something greater than just myself.”
I know just how he felt. Oh. And the dream my friend had two years ago? My car is cream colored.
“Forgive the song that falls so low, beneath the gratitude I owe.” – unknown old hymn