Oh, no! Watch out!”
My father-in-law’s warning to my husband, Jimmy, came too late. In the middle seat of our white minivan, I felt a severe jolt as I heard the unmistakable crash of metal upon metal. Next I heard an odd popping noise, like a mild explosion. An acrid, smoky haze filled the vehicle.
For a moment we sat in dazed silence. “Fire!” yelled one of my sons, and we all jumped out, expecting to see the engine in flames. Fortunately there was no fire. The smoke was from the bursting of the air bags upon impact.
After verifying that no one from either vehicle was severely injured, we stood huddled together staring at our mangled van. Jimmy and I looked at each other in shocked amazement. We had chosen this model because of its safety rating. It had done its job well. Praise God, we were all alive!
How sad it looked! I thought of how much we had rejoiced, anguished, and prayed over this vehicle during the last ten months. It was the “newest” car we had ever owned. With two teenage boys in band and family in another state, we put a lot of miles on a vehicle. So we stretched our budget to buy the three-year-old low-mileage minivan. Soon we realized we had made a financial blunder. We hadn’t missed a payment yet, but it was only a matter of time. Should we sell it to buy an older model?
It was a moot question now. The vehicle was totaled. As we awaited the insurance check, we began looking for another van. Jimmy insisted it would have to be an older model.
“Dear Lord,” I prayed over and over again. “You know what our needs are. Help me to trust You to provide for us.”
And yet, I continued to worry as we test drove older vans. I just felt “safer” in newer models. I knew this van would have to last for many years and I believed there was less chance of being “stranded” in a vehicle that wasn’t quite so “used.” When our money arrived, we returned to a car dealership at a near by city to take a second look a five-year-old full-sized van Jimmy liked.
“There are too many blind spots,” I complained during the test drive. “It’s just too big and too old!”
“It’s the only thing in our price range that meets our needs,” he reminded me.
“Let’s get a newspaper and check to see if there is anything new since the last time we were here.” To humor me, my husband agreed.
The ad was from another dealership down the street. Listed was a three-year old minivan at a comparable price to the five-year-old full-sized van we were considering. It was the same make and body style as our white one. Jimmy was doubtful.
“There has to be something wrong with it,” he told me. “It’s too good to be true.”
“Well, it won’t hurt to look at it,” I insisted.
The minute I saw it, I knew it was our van. It was a beautiful shade of teal. Inside it was almost identical to our white minivan. I felt at home in it at once. How could it be so inexpensive? It had less mileage on it than our white van had when we first purchased it. Yet, it was selling for less than what we owed at the time of the accident! What was the catch?
“We are clearing the lot for new models,” the salesperson explained. “Our manager wants to move everything out this weekend, so he is offering incredible deals.”
Still suspicious, Jimmy inspected every inch of the car. The only problem was a slight belt squeal. We decided to go eat and discuss it. Together we prayed for wisdom. After our prayer we both felt at peace and returned to the dealership to seal the deal.
“If you ever see me worrying or doubting God’s ability to provide for us again, just say to me– ‘you got the car you wanted’” I told Jimmy. He has mentioned it several times over the years.
Over a hundred thousand miles have been added to it during the past seven years. The belt squeal is louder. Every once in a while it even throws a belt, so we keep a spare. Still, each time I drive it, I am reminded of God’s faithfulness. It is truly God’s van.
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