It was on that same Saturday in the afternoon that I had just about had it at a Mickey D's in Lacey. Using the free wifi, my dad and I had searched over Craigslist looking for just that right vehicle. As a few of you know, I was looking to buy my first car on that day, but after 12 hours of strikeouts from 6 A.M. to 6 P.M., I was almost ready to throw in the towel and head home empty-handed. Oh sure, we had seen several cars, but our experience ranged from having the owner of a car we were interested in sitting behind us and smoking for the whole test drive, to seeing a nice looking truck that we learned had one slight problem: the speedometer was broken. No biggy! We also called a half-dozen other ads that had been posted that same Saturday, but the would-be sellers wouldn't pick up the phone! I was getting so frustrated, and mad, but - silly me! - our magnificent God was working his sovereign plan.
Now I must diverge a bit from my woes to share an important bit of this story. You see, in the few days after we arrived home safely from our long trip, for our morning devotions we listened online to all the sermons we missed on our trip. In one of the sermons, Pastor Dean called us to take a challenge; he asked us to pray every day that we might have a chance to share the gospel with someone in our sphere of influence, and that God would speak clearly through us. Our family started praying every morning afterwards that God would use us to reach someone with the Good News. Now back to the story of my woes, or at least that is what I deemed them at the time.
In a last, nearly desperate effort, we followed through with an ad for a good-looking Ford Escort that we had originally ruled out. See, the Escort was owned by a family that lived 2.5 hours north of Seattle. If you are unfamiliar with where we live, let me just tell you that that is a long way from home, even though we were in Lacey at the time. The only way we could see us being able to test it out was if the owners could meet us half way. We sent them an e-mail (they didn't have a phone number) and hoped for the best.
Surprisingly, the owner got back with us. Unfortunately, though, they had some bad news for us: they would not be able to meet us. The family that owned the Escort was preparing for a party they were throwing for their graduating son, so they could not spare the time to drive an hour and a half to meet us. They did say, however, that we could drive all the way up there and see the car if we wanted to. That's what we did. After three hours of driving through Seattle, boarding a ferry to take us across to Whidbey Island, and driving across the island, we reached the owner's house at about 9:15 P.M. I know, we were pretty crazy, but we were desperate to get a car.
Things started looking up. I really liked the little red hatchback Escort, and it ran great during the test drive. That is how we arrived at the Freddy's parking lot at around 10 P.M. My dad had drove it for the first half of the test drive, and now we were going to switch so I could drive it back. We decided to check over the car some more in that parking lot before we headed back, so we turned the car off and left the headlights on so we could see. yeah, smart. A little while later I tried starting the engine again, but as you already know, it wouldn't start. The car was originally owned by the owner's dad who had passed away a year and a half ago. The car had not been used much since, so the battery was totally shot. At the same time our stranger approached. Normally we would have just drove away before he got to us or tell him we didn't have any change to spare, but thanks to our new-found predicament, we didn't have that luxury.
Turns out, the stranger was not panhandling or anything like that. He was a normal, middle-class man named Tuck who had a story as interesting as our own on why he was walking across the nearly empty parking lot at 10:00. He was on his way to visit a friend in Bellingham, but thanks to the poor navigational skills of whoever had given him a ride, he had been dropped off in Oak Harbor (where we were at) and told that Mount Vernon, where he could get on a bus to Bellingham, was only a walk away. Now we are no experts on the land north of Seattle, but we knew that Mount Vernon was not on Whidbey Island, meaning our stranger friend was essentially stranded. You can guess the look on Tuck's face when we told him that, and feeling sorry for the poor guy, we decided to give him a ride on our way back.
A few minutes and a jump start later, we arrived back at the Escort's owner's house. They of course were a little surprised when three people climbed out of there car instead of two, but Tuck and the husband of the family really hit it off as they were both former military men. Meanwhile, my dad and I finalized the deal on the Escort, which despite it's battery being shot ran great otherwise. It was a perfect car for me in both me and Daddy's opinion. I really liked it. So at about 10:30 at night our mini caravan headed home with hitchhiker and new car in tow.
As I drove along in my new car behind our Ford Focus holding my dad and Tuck, I remembered the challenge Pastor Dean had given us and felt the urge to pray that Daddy would have an opportunity to share the gospel with Tuck. I knew that God had him in there with my dad for a reason, and I also knew that my dad would probably take this opportunity to ask Tuck where he stood with God. I prayed the whole way to Mount Vernon, a half-hour drive across the bridge and to the mainland. My dad did share with Tuck, and it turned out that he was a believer that needed his spiritual life strengthened.
4 hours later my dad and I pulled into our driveway at 2:30 A.M. It was a very long day, but it had all been worth it in the end. God had used what I had thought at the time where frustrating setbacks to guide us to that parking lot so He could answer our prayers regarding being able to share the Gospel with someone. He also had Tuck get lost in Oak Harbor so he could hear just what God wanted to say to him through my dad. On top of all that, I got the perfect car that fit my budget. But even more so, I learned that things we might think as setbacks or frustrating our really just things that God is using for good. Every time I drive my little car I will remember that, and I would encourage you all to think that way about the hard things in your life. God is good!
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28
Me and my car!
It's a beauty, isn't it?
The grandpa who originally owned this car left this note on the gas cap. Not only is it the perfect car, but it's got character as well!