Have you ever felt like the size, quality, or time invested in a gift can determine the value of a relationship? I personally love hand-made gifts, because I know it took time, resources and creativity to put it together. I love gifts that meet a specific need or deep desire of mine, because it tells me the person takes the time to get to know what matters to me.
I have a car that’s about 5,000 miles past the point of needing a new tranny, has a crack that takes up almost a quarter of my windshield, a broken rear-window wiper, and an oil leak that would probably give environmental extremists a stroke. But it’s paid off! I took this thing to Carmax a few weeks ago to see what they might give me and, keep your socks on, they offered me a whopping $500.
I’ve spent the last month or so praying about what to do about my car. I can’t afford to buy another one and it would be financially unwise to stop bye Auto Credit and finance a new used car with 18% APR. So what do I do?
Every time I brought this issue to God in prayer, worrying and listing my options to Him as if He needed to be informed, I was left without direction.
“Samantha,” He seemed to say, “Do you have what you need today?”
“Is your car running today? Is it getting you where you need to go today?”
“Then stop worrying. Let me take care of tomorrow. I’ll give you what you need when you need it.”
It’s not bad to plan. Proverbs 21:5 says, “The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.” Luke 14:28 reads, “For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?”
Planning is good! But planning cannot take the place of trusting God and His plan. Proverbs 16:9 says, “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.”
James takes it a step further when he wrote, “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’ - yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.’”
Every time I began to wonder and worry and plan, God patiently continued to ask me if I had what I needed for today. I had to humbly admit that, yes, I actually had an abundance of what I needed for today. Then I had to hand the rest over to Him and trust He’d give me what I needed for tomorrow when tomorrow came.
A couple of days ago I got a text message from a friend of mine. Her parents bought a new used car and were getting rid of their old one. This couple wanted to gift their car to someone. Did I want it?
It’s a year newer than mine, has 50,000 miles less on the odometer than mine, and it gets better gas mileage than mine does. This car has front wheel drive while mine has rear two-wheel drive, which isn't much help in the north Idaho snow. This car includes a good set of four snow tires while my car has none, and theirs has been serviced by a dealership like clockwork for the last ten years or so.
It was a gift from two people who loved Jesus and wanted to bless someone else. If I didn’t want it they’d donate it to the UGM dealership in town.
I test drove the car and was inwardly overwhelmed by the sheer generosity of this couple. Even more than that, I was caught off guard by God’s goodness to me. When I got back to their house I wrapped my arms around her neck in a hug. I wound up on my knees in tears holding her hand. It was all I could do to say thank you.
The next day we sat at the DMV together. As I sat there, my feet dangling off the waiting room bench because my legs are too short, I felt like a little kid waiting in line to receive a free ice cream cone.
The experience humbled me. Never in a million years would I have imagined someone would just give me a car. Certainly not a car in better condition than my own! But that’s the way our Father loves to work. He gets such joy out of surprising us with the impossible to stretch our imagination about what He can do, and wants to do!
A couple of weeks ago I was challenged to make a list of things I wanted. Things that had nothing to do with ministry or helping someone else, but was just something I wanted. One of them was a car in better condition than my own. I wasn’t picky, but I’d like one that could be of service to the ministry I serve. So I asked.
Weeks later, now I have one, and I only had to pay for title and registration fees.
Far too often I live like an orphan, forgetting that I am a beloved daughter to the King of kings, who has endless resources and immeasurable power at His fingertips. I am a beautiful warrior daughter to a Father who loves to give good gifts to His children.
A good Father doesn’t spoil his children at the expense of their character. What He gives today is truly enough for today, because He is in each day and He is the bread of life and living water we need to get from one day to the next. Every now and then, at his discretion, He gives an incredible gift that doesn’t puff up, but builds up our faith, trust and love for Him.
As I drove my new used car home late that night, I couldn't stop smiling. I blasted the worship music and just thanked God over and over again. In a lull between gratitude I heard Him say, "Samantha, it's just a car. You're thankful, which is good, but I've already given you the greatest gift of all: myself."
Intellectually I understand, as best as my five-pound brain can understand, that my relationship with Jesus is the best gift of all. To experience a surge of gratitude, joy and connection with the Father over Him giving me a car, made me realize just how little my heart understands the value of the gift I already had.
When is the last time you were moved to tears, or struck still over the gift of your relationship and connection with your Savior? When is the last time you were so moved by just being in relationship with Jesus nothing else in the world mattered?
Regardless of whatever the Father gives, or doesn't give us that we can hold in our hands and experience, He's already given the best and greatest gift He can give: Himself. In HIM is everything our heart desires. It's training our hearts and minds, renewing our thinking, to see that for the truth it is.