My car has had a brake problem for months. Sometimes they work, and other times, not so much. This is a little unnerving, to say the least. I kind of like driving a car with brakes you can count on. I like to live on the edge for sure; just not over it.
We’ve taken my car into the shop THREE TIMES to repair this problem. On the third time, our trusted mechanic uttered these words: “It’ll cost $1000 to repair what I THINK is the issue. But that’s just an educated guess.” So I can pay $1000 and still have broken brakes. I’ve always wanted to experience the airbag explosion thing, but now that it’s more likely, I’m not so sure.
I prayed a prayer of desperation: “God please help us. We need a car with working brakes. We need help paying for kids’ school and activity expenses. There is just NO money. Lord, please provide. Please show us what to do.”
Jeff and I spent the next couple of days brainstorming and praying and crunching numbers. Surprisingly, we discovered it would be more affordable and financially wise to purchase a new car. Car math is not like traditional math. Somehow, we would be saving money and also getting brakes that work.
I pride myself on paying my bills on time. I may not have money, but I have excellent credit. So when Jeff went to purchase the new car, these words horrified me: “The registration is out of date.”
No, no, no. I’m sure you’re mistaken. I went to my “Bills to be paid” file to be sure. Nope. No bill in there. And then I spotted it, right behind the bill file, in between 2 files, just hanging out. With a May 8 Due Date. On June 2. Oi.
I wanted to scream. We had just told the car salesman we had flawless credit, and the one bill unpaid? Our car registration. Seriously?
Yet, while I was ready to be told we didn’t qualify for the new car, instead we were told they would take care of it. This was the first time I was rewarded (to the tune of $221) for not paying my bill.
Then I remembered my prayers of desperation the week before. Not only were we getting a car with working brakes, but we also had money for our children’s school and activity expenses through a DMV bill we didn’t have to pay.
I was hesitant. I was guarded. While I believe in a God who provides for my needs and many times my wants, I’ve struggled to believe He will provide generously. I believe in a God who will provide "just barely." Why do I have a view of God like this? That somehow, it’s only appropriate for Him to provide the very basics. Like instead of a new car, maybe He would get us new bicycles. I sat with my thoughts and with God, and Jesus’ words came to me:
“Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” Matthew 7:9-11
I confess, I struggle to accept good gifts. I’m much better at receiving things I deserve or earn. In other words, I prefer rewards. If I built clean water wells in Africa, saving many lives and seeing many come to Christ, then maybe a new car is a nice gift for God to give me. But, because I just serve at a little church in Northern California, then I’ll take the used car with partially working brakes. And that says a lot about me and my ability to receive love. Because gifts aren’t gifts if they have to be earned. Neither is love.
I’m slowly beginning to accept God’s generosity, but it is SO hard. However, when God’s generosity overflows in my life, I cannot wait to share it with others. And the reality is, I can chauffeur a lot more youth group kids in this new car than I can on a bicycle, or in a crappy car with temperamental brakes.
But it’s way more than a new car or any material possession. The real gifts from God are not only His provision, but His grace, His peace, His love. This year, my women’s ministry group is counting God’s gifts together, hoping to reach over 1000 by the end of the year. Praise God for his generosity and abundance. We do not serve a God of scarcity, or a God of the “just barely.”
Thank you, Lord, for loving me in ways I cannot understand. Thank you Lord, for your grace when I struggle to accept your good gifts. Gifts undeserved and unearned. Gifts you give simply because you love me.