Friday, January 31, 2014

The Helper

     I was asked recently to submit a story about my best answered prayer experience. This is what I'm thinking of submitting, even though I have much better experiences to answered prayer, those stories seem personal and I'm not sure I want them published. Maybe I'll write some of those stories out but I'm warming up with this one. So here you go. Seriously embarrassed about my stupidity over this one but maybe someone out there will read it and not feel so alone in experiences of their own.

The Helper

     I had a “vision” of what the perfect car for me would be. This was not one of those spiritual visions where the heavens opened up and I heard the audible voice of God telling me what kind of car to buy. This was more of an “I’m a young, naive, college student with grand ideas about the car I should be driving” type of vision. I wanted some sort of SUV. They were cute and the bigger the car the safer I felt driving it. I was nearing the last term of college and I was about to graduate with a bachelors degree, debt free. I had worked my way through college and had paid for it out of my own pocket semester by semester. It was not easy and there were a lot of answered prayers that got me to that point. I was moving off campus to the next city over so to get to my bank job, I needed a car. I had been riding public transportation for three years and by that time I was completely over it. I was ready for a new ride. My parents were 3,000 miles away, so I was on my own for this car buying experience.

     I took some friends with me and ended up at a used car dealership. Metro Auto Wholesale. They were all smiles and politeness and led me to a lovely looking purple Suzuki SUV. I couldn’t even tell you the model. I just remember the fancy “S” on the hood. It was perfect. I didn’t wait. I signed all the finance paper work right there on the spot. It was just what I was looking for. They said I could drive it off the lot that night. My friend and I climbed in and drove off. “Isn’t it neat that you can just sign your name to some paper-work and drive off with something this nice?” I was happy but I couldn’t shake a weird feeling of apprehension and warning.

     I noticed when I started the car the next morning to run to the store that a big plume of black smoke came out the tail pipe. It had been dark out the night before when I took it for a test drive and I didn’t notice it then. It did it again when I started it up to leave the store and return to campus. Then and only then did I seek any counsel. Oh, the things I should have done but didn’t. I was told to try and take it for an oil change. I did so.

     What came next made me physically ill.

     “Um, mam, this car has about 80,000 miles on it and I don’t think that oil has ever been changed since it drove of the lot as a brand new car. Come with me. See this pink hue that is showing up on my fingers when I stick it down here. That is telling me that your engine is full of corrosion. People buy cars and just run them into the ground like this.”

     The reality of what I had just done came crashing down on me. I went back to my dorm room and wept from embarrassment and the lack of wisdom on my part. Just two days prior, I was debt free. This would take me at least the next five years to pay off, if not more and then I would still need a car! By what the mechanic was telling me, the car I had just bought for thousands, was on its last legs.

     To add to this poor financial choice, I had not gotten any type of raise for the past two years at my job. I would have to get another job to get another car and even then, I wasn’t sure I would be approved for another loan. My credit was new and still being established.  I had prayed and prayed about that and asked God why they were not giving me a raise. I think I did the job to the best of my ability. My sales numbers were better than some others. Why was there no raise?

     I tried to take the car back but they would not let me. They had just made about $16,000 or so off of a lemon and they were gloating. They quoted back to me the fine print from their paper-work that I missed in my over-zealous paper signing. “All cars are sold as is and could not be returned for any reason. We had no knowledge of this cars condition when we sold it to you and we sold it to you as is. Here is your signature relieving us of any liability.”

      My personal finances had just been thrown a major monkey wrench. In my excitement, I had done something in my own will without seeking God or Godly council. What a fool I had been! Now I would have to pay for it for the next five to seven years. I remember asking God to please deliver me from my own naivety and somehow, in His mighty wisdom, get me out of this mess. I don’t remember eating much for the next week. I felt so stupid and began crying out to God. I repented for my foolishness, asked for forgiveness, and then reminded myself that God was bigger than any devious plans of wicked men. That car dealership knew exactly what they were doing and I had my first real run in with wickedness I had ever really had in my life. I had worked so hard to pay off my college debt and it felt like one horrible decision would erase all I had accomplished.

     In my sorrow over my poor decision I was reminding of all the little financial miracles God did for me in the five years or so I had been supporting myself. He really had directed my steps in this area and I felt Him challenging me to trust Him. I began to. The day I was finally able to really lay this mistake at His feet and let go of the heartache and truly trust Him, I got a call from Metro-Auto telling me that the last company they were hoping would finance me said they wouldn’t. My credit was too new and I needed to be making at least 25 cents more and hour before they would consider financing me. I said I was bringing the car back today and hung up the phone. I was never so relieved.

    A week later, I got a $2 an hour raise. Only ONE WEEK later!! I can’t tell you how I felt in my heart at that moment. I knew God had been protecting me. If I had been given a raise when I wanted it, I would have been stuck with a lemon and any extra money would be poured into getting out from under my major mistake in buying it. The timing of the raise was nothing short of a miracle. It was unbelievable. God was helping me before I even knew I would need help!

      Metro-Auto Wholesale went out of business two years later. Too many people complained to the Better Business Bureau and they were forced to close their doors.

      I had explained to my manager at work what was going on and she referred me to one of our favorite customers. He was the son of a man who owned a major car dealership in Portland. I knew him because he came into the branch daily to do the car dealerships deposits. He found me a car that was previously owned by a grandma and grandpa. He said they only used it whenever they needed a second car which wasn’t very often. It only had 47,000 miles on it and it was six years old! It looked new. I am still driving that car today, ten years after this ordeal and it is going strong. It wasn’t the SUV I envisioned but it was what God knew I needed. I have had it paid off for seven years.

Hebrews 13:5-6

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”