"We're riding in the funny old car!"
This is what my toddler so adorably yelled one day from her carseat as we drove through town running errands in my neighbor's...um...well, funny old car as I had dubbed it. Having only one vehicle right now (which my husband usually takes to work) we've often had to borrow my neighbor's old Pontiac Grand Am, which I was sure belonged to the 80s, but recently found out it is actually a '91. In either case, it's the oldest thing I've had to drive lately, and it's definitely not stylish! So one day as I packed my daughter in to it, I let out a sigh and said something along the lines of, "Guess we'll have to drive in this funny old car for awhile." Now, as we drove around and she repeated what I said, I realized what an influence I was on my daughter! They really do hear and repeat everything you say!
I had to laugh a little because it was so cute, but then I found myself scrambling for more positive things to say, "Yes we are honey! We are in the funny old car, and we LOVE it; we are sooo thankful for it!" And really, we were thankful for it. Or, we should have been. We'd been without a second car for several months and it had been super challenging, especially when I needed to run errands or just get out of the house for my own sanity. We also were not in a financial position to buy another car, so we did the best thing you can do in any situation: we prayed! We prayed for God's provision, because we know that God is our provider, and that He cares about all the issues of life. So here we were praying and waiting on the Lord, and wondering where our new car was or when it was coming. I've had two friends tell me encouraging stories about being in similar situations and how God provided a car free of charge in their need, so I was excited and trusting the Lord for this same provision. When "Neighbor Bill" (as we so affectionately call him) offered his car for me to use whenever I needed to, I was grateful and accepted. He is in a wheelchair and can't drive anymore, and he didn't want his car sitting around not being used. Sure, I thought, that would be helpful, although I was already planning on not using it unless I really had to. And I have to admit that I would often feel a bit embarrassed driving around in it and would think, as I looked around at all the other cars, "This is the oldest car I see on the road!"
Now, I'm definitely not a materialistic person. We don't own the latest anything and it doesn't bother me one bit. After all, we are to lay up treasures in heaven and not materialistic things that will fade. I'm also not anywhere close to being "stylish" or up to the latest fashion. (Do people even say "up to the latest fashion"?) And the one vehicle we do own isn't anything fancy either, just a truck we call "Old Blue." So what was my issue? At that moment with my daughter, telling her how thankful we were for the funny old car, I realized how silly I had been to be embarrassed by it. I realized how thankful I truly was for it, otherwise I'd be even more miserable not being able to get around at all. And I also realized that this was God's answer to prayer for us, at least for the time being. We had been waiting for something else we thought was coming-maybe something nicer and newer; something that would be given to us. But this funny old car was just as good as that. It was exactly what we needed for now, without having to pay for insurance or gas!
That is so how God works-not in the ways we expect or anticipate. The bible tells us, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." (Isaiah 55:8-9) My car story is kind of a silly example of this truth, but it still stands true! God's ways are not our ways; they are better! Actually, they are the best ways, THE way! Repeatedly in my life as I've prayed and waited on the Lord, I've seen those prayers and pleas and cries answered in ways I wouldn't have planned...and good thing too, since our plans and ideas will always be inferior to His. Our greatest dream, idea, or plan for ourselves could never match up to God's. How could they? He is the Almighty God, the Creator of the ends of the earth, and the Creator of you and me! How can we know better than God how to answer a prayer, or even how to plan and live our lives? Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, “You did not make me”? Can the pot say to the potter, “You know nothing”? (Isaiah 29:16) I am encouraged knowing that as I wait on the Lord, seek Him, and trust Him with my life, He will be faithful to guide and direct and provide in the best way, and not in my way. That doesn't mean things will always be easy or carefree, or that I'll have what is viewed as the nicest material stuff, or even be successful in the world's eyes. I've had my fair share of struggles and hardships and heartbreak. But as the Lord has walked through each struggle with me, strengthening me, drawing me closer, and teaching me, I've seen how it has all been for His good and for the best. It's true! I am even grateful to the Lord for not answering certain prayers back in the past. It's scary to think I could have missed out on this life the Lord has blessed me with if He would have given me some things I thought I wanted back then!
So be encouraged! Are you praying and waiting on the answer? Are you striving in this life for success or for purpose? You are clay. God is the potter. If you let Him, (that's the key, and it involves turning to Jesus for salvation and then walking with Him in faith) He will sculpt a masterpiece of your life. His ways and His thoughts are higher than yours! And maybe He has already answered your prayer, but you haven't noticed it because you are too embarassed driving around in the funny old car. But if you open your eyes and focus on your blessings, you may realize that the funny old car is actually pretty great, and it has awesome air conditioning!
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. -Romans 8:28