But the truth is, it couldn't have happened without more than a little help from our friends. I was reminded today that the gifts of God when used by the body of Christ are the actual means God uses to administer His grace to His people. This is truly the case for us in the purchase of this car. How small a thing our daily lives can be...just sleeping and eating, cleaning and talking, purchasing and consuming. But if we break forth from the day that consumes us and step back just a little...then we get it...God is everywhere, in everything...and demands glory through it all.
Today I want to step back to give Him praise for revealing His manifold grace to our family...and especially to Cassie. She's a great babysitter...in high demand. But no one is worth what she made from some of the families who paid her. She would come home with these checks that startled us. Her eyes would be wide as she told us so many nights that she tried to get them to take it back, but they were adamant.
Aren't you saving for a car, Cassie? they'd ask. Well, yeah, but still... she'd reply. We love you. You've blessed our family so often. Let us help you. God has blessed us. Let us do the same for you.
Can you believe it? she'd ask us with tears in her eyes. Those checks she devoted to the Lord and to the car alone. She knew that it was a gift with purpose. And because He is so gracious to open her eyes to see it, she also knew that she was a living recipient of the kind of church that began 2000 years ago. For example, Acts 2:44-45:
And they were selling their possessions and belongings
and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.
Then because He's just that kind of God, Wayne had a surprising day off and they went to see what they could find.
We were so grateful when we learned of this one. Just the kind of good gas mileage car that by God's continuing grace will get her through college. And Wildcat blue! (Wayne said that she turned the corner, saw the car and said in a quiet, excited and almost little girl's voice: Daddy, it's blue! Oh, I like it! Can I have it? It was like she was three again and walking into her first Toys-R-Us. Cute.) One problem though...isn't there always a hitch?...it was about $3000 more than we had. Add tax, title and license...not to mention the extra $900 just to pay the insurance for six months...and we're out of our range. What to do?
Wayne and I talked, prayed, thought, pondered, looked again at the budget...and with the advice of a couple of people we trusted, went ahead and did it. Took out a loan for the remainder to be paid off, we had figured, by Christmas. Not too bad, we thought. Cassie beamed when she ran in to tell me to come see! We were all so excited.
Then God shook us up again. In the past two weeks, He has added blessing to blessing. Generosity to generosity. And has arranged for us to pay it off, not in December like we first thought...nor in November like we thought a few days later after one gracious gift...nor in October after another unexpected receiving. No...how about next month? Yep. Six weeks from now.
And we especially appreciate how he did it. Not from one place or one family or even from just those who love us. God reminded us He can move anyone at anytime He chooses after we received a notice from the IRS that they were so happy to tell us that their numbers didn't add up and we could expect a check in a couple of weeks. He sent money from such unexpected places for one reason: so that we would not get confused and think either Wow! Look how smart we are! Or Wow! Look how great they are! Or especially not a mild That's good.
No. God sent it like this so we would be astounded at Him. We see the good works of all those around us clearly...their generosity...their honesty...their openness to share...believers and unbelievers. But though grateful, we are not confused. Our praise is for our Father who is in heaven and knows how to give His children good gifts. Now comes the living it out in our lives...generosity...honesty...openness with our possessions...willing to be an instrument of grace in another's life. A return to Him not for the car, but the cross which enables us to receive grace from our Father instead of the wrath we so diligently earned.