This past year Heidi and I have made it a priority to give not just our tithe, but to give above and beyond when God prompts our hearts to give as we see needs around us. It was just something we felt stirred to add to our spiritual disciplines. But let me dispel a myth right away...upon this desire to practice more radical generosity, God didn't just open the floodgates and shower down financial blessing beyond what we could handle, in fact, just the opposite. Last year we experienced more mishaps and pitfalls, costly fixes and unplanned bills, than ever before. I think I'd call it fiscal hemorrhaging.
But we stayed the course in our commitment. We obeyed beyond what we saw and sensed...that's faith.
Fast forward to a couple weekends ago when we finished the "Blessed to be a Blessing" series at church...I was sharing at the Saturday Night service how God is a generous God and that this past year He was inviting the Holdridge Family to a deeper degree of generosity. It had been a tough year and many days I wanted to abandon the idea all together, but I know that sometimes you have to be "tested before you're trusted". If he can't trust us with what He gives us already, he certainly won't entrust us with more.
My prayer all year was: "God, I want to bless you so that you can bless me so that I can bless others." This prayer stayed with me all year.
So back to a couple weekend ago...I was sharing the journey we had this year as we stretched out to trust God not necessarily seeing immediate blessing, but wanting to obey His voice. The interesting thing was that my car that I just paid off was just taken into the shop that week because it was leaking coolant and the mechanic told me that there was a crack in the engine block and that the engine needed to be replaced to the tune of $3,000 to $3,500! Here I am sharing with our body the way God called us into deeper generosity and in my heart I was sorta feeling, "So then why is my car basically broken down and worthless now?" I was literally borrowing someone's car while ours was out sitting next to the shop waiting for us to either replace the engine or sell it for scraps.
After I got done speaking that night, I was mingling with people in the cafe' when a guy came up and handed me a check. As he was handing it to me he said, "My wife and I talked this afternoon and we haven't really done this much, but we felt strongly that we should give this to you tonight." I opened the check and it was $3,500!!! I stood there shocked that God would know our need and meet it so precisely. I knew He could do it, I just didn't think he would do it! (just being honest)
But that was just the beginning...
I was driving home that night and I got a message on my phone that someone needed me to call them. It was the guy who was letting us borrow his car while ours was out of commission. I thought, "He needs his car back." So before I got out of my car, I gave him a jingle. He answered the phone and to make a long story less long, he told me that he and his wife had talked that evening and felt strongly that they were supposed to give us the car that we were borrowing from them. WHAT?! But what he said next was the God-part of the conversation: "And if you end up getting your other car fixed, you can just give this to Kami as her first car." What he didn't know was that Kami was asking all week long, "Dad, I would love that car! It's so cute and perfect. Could we buy it from them?" I said over and over that week: "NO. Absolutely not! We don't even have two cars right now, we're not buying a third when our second car is dead! What are you, nuts? It ain't happening!"
After I hung up the phone I was utterly amazed that in a matter of 20 minutes someone handed me a check to cover the costs of fixing our car and someone else gave us a car. Kami wasn't going to believe it. I went inside to share the events of the last half and hour with my family.
I love sharing with our kids "God stuff" because I want them to know that God doesn't always answer our prayers according to our desires because He knows best, but sometimes he does more amazing things than we could even imagine to pray for. I would have never prayed for what just happened...I just don't have enough faith or imagination.
As I shared with Kami, she was ecstatic! I told her: "You remember how you kept saying this week, 'I love that car...I would love to have that as my first car'? Well, God heard your simple desire...not even your need cause you don't NEED a car, he heart your WANT. He cares about your desires. He heard you." It was a special moment I didn't want to pass by without giving glory to God.
But it wasn't over yet...
The next day the breaks gave out in Kami's newly acquired car and I had to take it over to the same shop where my other car was sadly sitting in the lawn. I told the mechanic that the brakes had completely gone out and needed to be looked at. He took a look and later that day called us and told us to come and pick up the car. We got out our credit card to pay for the brake fix and he looked at us and said, "This one is covered." We told him that we didn't want him to do that...that we could pay for it. He just looked at us and said, "I want to." We thanked him and walked out of the shop blown away that God kept going before us...almost like he just wanted to show off at this point!
But the story gets better...
One of our friends at church said to us that we should try a certain product that you can pour into your coolant that has fiberglass and aluminum chips that will sometimes clog the crack and take care of the coolant leak. He said it was worth a try, so I dropped it off at his house and he flushed out the coolant, put in brand new coolant, and dumped this miracle product in as well. He let it run for over and hour and said that it wasn't leaking anymore....that it looked like it did the trick!!
So for now, I'm driving around my car, (I don't know how long this quick fix will last), Kami is driving around her car, God took care of our brake bill through the generosity of our mechanic who was led to do it for free, and we have a $3,500 check that is in our bank account just in case our car eventually needs some work. Unreal!
I just wanted to share this glory story...because it's been a long year of sob stories as it relates to our finances. All I know is that whether God gives us anything in return or not, the blessing comes from faithfulness and obedience....but it sure is amazing when our loving Father shows us that he knows us and wants to care for us in a custom way literally proving his individual love for us as His children.