I like to imagine little car-shaped Ebenezers popping up all over Issaquah as I tell this story of how God provided for our family and some friends of ours over the last few months.
The Hebrew word for Ebenezer (’Eben hà-ezer) means “stone of help.” When we sing the lines of the second verse “Here I raise my Ebenezer / Hither by Thy help I come, we ‘re acknowledging the bountiful blessings and help from God, just like the prophet Samuel did when God saved the Israelites from attack. Whenever God helps me – a box of groceries, a friend who comes a couple times to help me pack, someone to teach my children God’s truths, a reminder of God’s promises, a lawsuit check (thanks, Facebook, for $15!), a much-needed find on Buy Nothing – I think to myself, I should raise an Ebenezer here to remember. For me this means writing down lists of things I’m thankful for. It’s all help, all provision. Every good and perfect thing comes from the Father. Sometimes they have a deep impact, though. That’s what this post is about today.
We just gave back a car to some partners of ours who let us borrow it for over a year.
I want to raise an Ebenezer or two over the help God has given us, especially in terms of vehicles. We had the car Chris bought in 2000 and the very small car I bought in 2005 when Austin was born in 2013. My grandparents gave us a bigger sedan and took my little car to my mom, who usually drives old cars with lots of problems. We have been so blessed by that provision! We never take for granted what a nice gift that was.
When Chris quit his job in 2014 to raise support full time, we thought the support would come in quickly and we’d be on our way. God used that time off to provide in a different way: ministry experience. We wouldn’t do it any differently looking back, but it was hard at the time. We ran out of money, so we sold Chris’s car and Chris went back to work. Partners and friends we met at Issaquah Coffee Company (not the only ones!) offered to help while we were a one car family, by lending us their truck. So Chris has driven our friends’ truck for almost two years. Besides the obvious blessing of having an extra car, this was a great learning experience for us about how God provides for missionaries. He peeled back a layer of self-reliance that we won’t need on the field.
Recently, we were able to purchase the perfect car for our trip to language school and back. We used MATS.org, so it was stress free – moving has made enough stress of its own. Since it is a ministry vehicle, we will be able to put the money we get for it back into our Outfit & Passage just before we leave.
When I gave the keys to our truck back to our friends, I got a little emotional. God has provided above and beyond what we asked for – friends, ministry partners, help in time of need. This year, our friends had a similar story of provision:
Our 1996 Toyota Camry literally had a meltdown in the parking lot of the shop we take it to. They did the valve cover gasket job and parked it. An hour later, brown and black smoke was billowing out from the engine compartment. Battery and all electrical system dead, fried. Options were to claim insurance and get about $1,500 for the loss, or take the shop owner’s offer of $1,500 without claiming. Literally the next morning, a very longtime customer of this shop brings in his 1998 Toyota Camry wanting to give it away or sell it. How much does he want for it? $1,500. The shop owner shares my car’s story with the car owner and we all decide we’d be crazy to deny this orchestration of events. On Tuesday I drove the 98 Camry home from the shop where my totaled 96 Camry sat, without having paid a cent for any of it.
Our friends have a second car: the truck we were using. But they didn’t even have to call us. God had it in control. Like our friend put it, “God uses things like this to remind us that he is the one in control, even when we think we are, and that he pours out his love on us even when we don’t deserve it.”
These same friends are just beginning to save for their next car, and they would love a small SUV just like the one we bought for language school. We know that God will provide the perfect car for them in His own time, but we really do hope it’s ours!