I’ve had a lot of conversations recently that have been reminders that God’s ways are not our ways. God’s ways are mysterious and often defying our logical minds. I struggle with that often because I like it when things make sense. I think things SHOULD make sense. But when you follow Jesus, at least when I follow Jesus… and when many of my friends follow Jesus… it often leads to paths that are less than logical — hm, are they MORE than logical?
Story time anyone?
When I was a kid my brother Ben and I always had what we called “Sleeping Bag Night!” on Fridays. We would drag our sleeping bags and pillows into the living-room and watch movies until we fell asleep. On one such Friday night we woke up in the middle of the night to our dad RUNNING out the front door and down the steps of our porch. There was a very bright glow, the roaring sound of flames, and a very big hose spewing massive amounts of water. Our car and our tree were on fire. I don’t remember much of the moments following that but I do remember the next morning when we explored the remains of our Volvo station-wagon… though at that point, it was more like a pile of ashes with a medal frame. A tow truck came and took it away and for the next two years we went without a car.
My family never had a lot of THINGS when I was a growing up. The idea of going without something was not foreign to me (although I don’t think I thought a lot about it… it was just life) but going without a car (for TWO YEARS!) was a big deal. We road the bus, the trolley, the train. We had lots of adventures some of which were fun and entertaining and others which were on the humbling, if not humiliating, end of things for this little girl. My parents did a good job of teaching us to take things as they come and participate in the adventure of life… making lemonade out of your lemons. I’m not gonna lie; at times… I hated it.
But now, I’m grateful. I wouldn’t change those years. Those days shaped my heart and soul…
Flash forward a few years… My family had a car, but just one. I think in all of my years there were only a few months that our family of five had two cars. We made due with one, coordinating our schedules to get where we needed to be. When I started working at age 16, I often times took the bus. I’d rather not have… I mean, I was surrounded by lots of friends with lots of money who were given really nice cars by their parents on their 16th birthday… but it was okay. I could ride the bus. Looking back, I realize that I learned a lot about people by using public transit… And God developed in me a heart of compassion.
A few more years down the road… I was in college. I didn’t have a car and was trying to figure out how and when I could get one. My dad had just passed away and a friend sent me an email asking if I’d have a car at school the next year. I told her I might be buying an old one from a friend but I wasn’t sure. She soon told me that she was going to buy a new car and give me hers. Give? WHAT? She explained that she knew I would need to be able to go back and forth from school to my family and she said, “You’ve been a blessing to me. I want to be a blessing to you.” But come on, there are lots of ways to be a blessing to me! All you have to do is say something nice… You don’t have to GIVE ME A CAR! But she did… and I was so very grateful to her, and to my God who leads people to do things like this!
A few more years down the road… I was going to Seminary in CA. A friend I had met in India was moving to CA and she needed a car. Some people had given her some money for a car but she still couldn’t afford much. My brother was going to Iraq soon and he’d just bought a brand new car… He decided to let me drive it for a year and a half. Light bulbs went off as I realized, “What am I going to do with TWO CARS?” I really wanted to give my car to this friend but I had just put some work into it and my mom had paid for it on her credit card. Neither she nor I could afford the credit card bill so, I prayed about it and decided to sell my car to my friend for just the amount on the credit card. I would drive my brother’s car and save money each month along the way. When he came back, I’d have plenty of money saved up and I’d buy a new car. It would be beautiful… It all made sense!