Big Red Is Dead

truck  It was a spectacular grand finale. Big Red hit an ice patch, skidded sideways, spun 360°, plowed through a ditch, rolled over and landed on its wheels in a farmer’s field. What a ride! Don had a front row seat. Thankfully only Big Red was totaled. Don walked away with only a sore back.

Big deal, you say– it is only a truck. But Big Red wasn’t just any old truck as you can see from this story from my upcoming book,         YES, THERE’S MORE.”

 Big Red

On a Friday morning, October 10, 2008, Don prayed this simple prayer: “Lord, give Cathy a fresh story she can use for her teaching on ‘How and Why Should We Pray’ at the Alpha Course on Sunday.”

That evening I was heading home from our granddaughter’s volleyball game on a road we rarely travel. In the twilight I glanced at a truck with a “for sale” sign sitting in a field. The thought popped into my mind, “That is Don’s truck.” I sensed it was God’s voice that I’ve learned to recognize over the years, a “knowing” that resonates within me, often with a unusual thought that comes seemingly out of the blue.

Don’s current pickup had 250,000 miles, and we had been on the lookout for a newer one for about a year. Of course, it couldn’t be just ANY truck. It had to be a F350 diesel, 4x 4, one-ton pickup with crew cab, in good shape, around $10,000.

The next morning I told Don at breakfast, “Oh, I found your truck.”

He laughed, “You what? Is it a F350? Is it…”

I interrupted, “All I know is that there’s a big red pickup in the cornfield a few miles up the road, and I think God said it is the one you are looking for.”

 Don was more annoyed than convinced, but after twisting his arm, he reluctantly drove up to take a look. There it was, everything he was looking for, a F350 diesel, 4×4, one-ton pickup with crew cab in good shape.

He dialed the phone number on the sign, and the seller turned out to be the Mennonite pastor who as a stranger to us a few years back, had helped organize a crew of guys to raise Don’s shed when it blew down. It sounded like God was orchestrating another GodStory.

The next obvious question was “So can we afford this? Lord, show me the mo.” The sign on the truck window said $11,500. Maybe we could borrow any shortage because this was a rare find, the truck he wanted at a price he could afford.

We had extra money in the bank from a large job Don had just completed. When I tallied up our bank accounts, adding the $323 bank deposit lying on the table, I shook my head, “No way! $11,581.27.” We had more than enough.

We called the pastor who had blessed us and blessed him back with his full asking price. Then we gave thanks to our God who cares, who speaks, who orchestrates the details in our lives in such a way that we hear, “I love you. I am present, answering your prayers, working on your behalf.”

On Sunday night I passionately taught on “How and Why Should We Pray” with fresh faith and fire as I shared the story of how God had answered Don’s prayer and provided a truck that we planned to buy Monday morning.

The following Sunday night we drove Big Red to Alpha. I ended my talk with this question, “Did God answer these prayers so miraculously because Don and I are special and He loves us so much? Yes and No. Yes, we are special in His eyes. But no, it wasn’t just because we are special. It was also for you. He wanted YOU to hear this story and know that YOU are special. He is illustrating the kind of loving Father He wants to be for each of us.”

My life verse is “The thief comes to rob, kill, and destroy, but I have come that you might have life in all its abundance.” John 10:10 Wouldn’t you know it? We found Big Red in the cornfield on 10/10.

RIP Big Red.  Your earthly mission is accomplished. I wonder what is next.  YES, THERE’S MORE.

Does God Care About Lost Keys?

The past few days have been unusually sad for me as several people I cared about faced some tough situations.  I had postponed sharing the following story in my blog because I was feeling their pain.

Then again, maybe in times like this, we also need to remember a faithful God and celebrate times when God showed up in powerful ways for He is a faithful God who is always there for us in both the good times and the sad times that we face in life.

I remember a particular time when I had this “keys thing” happen. I think it was “keys thing # 247” in my life.  Here is how it all began… It was hot outside, and even though my body wasn’t too keen on the idea, I drove to our mall to get some much-needed exercise, in comfort. I pulled into the parking place closest to the door and got all prepared: car keys on my belt clip, peppy worship music on my iPhone, headsets in my ears, and prayer cards in my hands for the ultimate multi-tasking experience in hopes my body wouldn’t notice it was exercising.

I began mall walking at lightening speed (okay, maybe it was just a light speed.) Thirty minutes later, my body cried, “Enough,” and I eagerly  checked off  “Exercise” from the top of my TO DO list, and was ready to get on with my busy day.

At my car, I reached down to get my car keys from my belt clip, and to my horror, they were missing.  I wondered, “On which of those two thousand steps through the mall had I dropped those keys?”  I cried out my very favorite prayer, “Help, Lord” and then added, “Would you please show me where my keys are?”

Back I trotted into the mall! It dawned on me how impossible this search could be. My insistence on multitasking left me clueless to even which stores I had walked through. But my Father God is faithful, and on that particular morning He lovingly smiled at me, His kid in a predicament and flooded me with peace and confidence that He would lead me to the keys.

I dropped the multitasking and focused on listening to God’s quiet voice, a voice I continue to learn more how to discern. I began calmly walking where I sense He was leading way to the opposite end of the mall. All the while my body screamed, “Whoah. A half hour is my limit, you know!”

A shoe display at Macey’s entrance looked vaguely familiar, so I entered and continued to an unfamiliar looking aisle in the back, and then I just stopped. An unfamiliar sales clerk stood nearby and almost without thinking, I blurted out, “Have you seen any keys?”

“These?” she replied, and she held up my keys. What a surprise! I had no clue where my keys had fallen to the floor…but my loving Father did. He directed me to just the right location and prompted me to ask just the right person who had put them away out of sight.

This event really shouldn’t have surprised me because I have come to know God as one who cares about me, one of his kids, a God who delights in showing up in surprising ways. He told us to expect this in Proverbs 3:6, “In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. “ I did a little thanksgiving dance. God came back with an encore by answering another important question rolling around in my head.

For on this day I was also asking not only where my keys were but also this question, “Lord, will You direct my path writing this book you’ve instructed me to write? Will you tell me what to say?”

I sensed God’s reassuring answer as I heard him speak through that small whisper inside, “Don’t worry. See, I directed your path to your car keys, and I’ll direct your path to complete our book, giving you the keys to finishing it. I’VE GOT YOU, so relax.”

Sometimes we get caught up in the big tragedies of life– Don and I have faced our share over the years, events like losing a child, heart attacks, two hip replacements, job downsizing, etc.  Sometimes we struggle with whether God even cares about our day-to-day lives.  And then there are those days when we have no doubt that God is good and He really does care about all the mundane things of life, things like finding finding lost keys.  Once again, I am humbled and aware that there is a lot about God that I don’t know, but I do know that He is good.

And I know that there is a lot so much more of Him to experience, and I’m pressing in to know Him better until I draw my last breath (which I hope isn’t too soon.) How about you?