listening for God’s voice, part 3

Posted: July 23, 2016 in Uncategorized

(If you’re starting here, you’re missing the first 2 parts.  It might make more sense to scroll back to part 1 and start there!)

And then the car happened this week.  G and I have been sharing a car since we got married.  Early on we said we’d probably get a second vehicle or at least a scooter pretty soon, but we work a mile from home, and it’s really not a big deal, sharing a car.  The car has been paid off for awhile and rarely has needed repairs, so it’s been a wise economical choice, just keeping insurance and gas up for the one car.

I was driving to an appointment on my lunch break when I suddenly realized the car had stopped running.  I pulled off to the side, put in in park, and tried to restart it.  Nothing.  After several tries, I called our mechanic, who stopped whatever he was doing and came directly to me on a nearly 100 degree morning.  He drove me to my appointment, and left me with instructions to call him when I was ready for a ride back to work, thereby proving that my mechanic is nicer than yours (just kidding, calm down – but seriously, he’s the coolest).  He took responsibility for getting my car off the road.

Soon, he called.  I remember that he was less than thrilled when I bought an Asian car (Hyundai), and now we were at the crossroads on that decision:  he wasn’t able to address the problem.  He had it towed to another mechanic, upon my say-so.

I had a bad feeling about this turn of events.  After all, my mechanic has bailed me out of a lot of predicaments over the years.  When you are two people sharing a car, there’s not much margin for error.  My daughter was willing to loan me her backup car, but I know it is prone to unexpectedly asking for repairs in the $600 and up value range in an untimely manner (never buy a PT Cruiser!) so I was reluctant to take it for long.

We really need a truck for moving anyway (and I’ve wanted one for years for various garden purposes); I got on Craigslist and by evening we were in possession of a 1993 Ford F150.  Bertha Sue, as we have named her, is everything you might expect from a 23 year old vehicle.  She feels like she’s falling to pieces as you drive her down the road, and she “wanders” a bit, steering-wise.  The air-conditioning is long gone, but thankfully the electric windows still open, and there is a slide-opening in the back window as well as a “wing” window in each door.  She has 2 gas tanks, but we were urged never to put gas in the rear one, a message passed along to our seller from the previous seller, and who knows how many iterations backward from that.  She has no tailgate, but she does have a hitch.  Her gas gauge doesn’t work at all, so though we were told she was empty when we bought her, she only accepted $1.86 worth of gas at the station and has been running strong for 70+ miles ever since.  Her ignition key turns so hard that my weak hands couldn’t even do it the first 10 or so tries; finally G helped me rig some leverage with the carabiner I use for my keys, and I can – just barely – manage to start her.  She does start on the first try (once sufficient leverage is achieved), and she runs quietly – the sound of G starting her up the first morning after we bought her was the sound I grew up hearing on the farm. I guess all Ford trucks sound the same.  She is some crazy mish-mash of washed-out red and various hues of gray – I suspect her body is actually 2 old clunkers melded into one, plus pu.  Her interior is worn and I suspect incurably dirty, but her radio still works just fine, and I suppose the cassette deck might too, if we had tapes to try it out.

She did make a brake noise last night at a stop sign.  That’s got me on full alert – a former mechanic was adamant about the level of damage that can be done by driving even a short distance on compromised brakes.  We’ll get her to the mechanic on Monday, and I won’t piss and moan if I have to put a little bit of money into this vehicle.

Our mechanic called the morning after the breakdown.  The car is dead – the repairs needed are in excess of the value of a car with so many miles on it.  Risk assessment says let the car go.  Our mechanic is helping me work out the logistics for that; worst-case scenario is the junk man will get it and pay us hopefully most or all of what we owe for towing.  We’ll see.  It’s my opinion that this car owed us nothing – it was paid for and had run reliably for more miles than many will even attempt with any car.  I can let the car go without feeling picked on or persecuted by the inconvenience.  That’s a blessing!

The truck, then, solved another dilemma for us:  our mortgage broker has expressly and repeatedly forbidden us from taking on any new debt/credit while we are amidst the homebuying process, as it could jeopardize our status.  So we can’t go out and borrow money for a new-to-us car until the closing is complete.  Finding Bertha Sue for $600 felt like a heavenly answer to that problem.  She won’t do for the only vehicle two people with jobs and other responsibilities for the long run, but she’ll work just fine (I hope) for getting us moved and patching us through until after the closing on the house, when we should be able to find something newer and a bit more equipped for everyday stuff.

Is Bertha Sue God’s ready answer for this short season of our life?  I don’t know.  The timing was great.  Hopefully she’ll run well enough and long enough to get us through the next month.  If she doesn’t, I won’t waste energy or emotion questioning God or measuring luck or supposing things should be different for us.  Life is.  Right?  It just is.

I’ve been reading a daily devotional from Oswald Chambers’ “My Utmost for His Highest” for…I don’t know…more than 5 years, probably less than 10.  This means I’ve been through the whole cycle enough times that most every day’s message is familiar, and still new depths of truths open up for me almost daily.  Ozzie (as I prefer to call him – why allow him dignity?!) likes to harp at Christians a bit about the way we walk with God.  He’s not all about asking over and over, “Show me Your will.”  My understanding of what he says in that book is basically that we are to follow hard after God, do the stuff we know is right, rely thoroughly on His goodness, and trust that when we’re doing all this, we can basically walk life out trusting that God’s will is being worked out in us and in our lives.

I like that perspective.  It’s how I’m living these days.  So sometimes I feel pretty clear I’ve heard His voice.  Other times I’m not at all clear if it’s His voice or my own will.  I don’t get all overwrought about it.  I press into God, I listen with all my might, I try to do what I know to do (or, failing that, like in my sugar addiction, immediately and fully admit that I am not, and that I am wrong, and that I want this to change in me), and then I just live.

Am I listening “correctly” for His voice?  Oh heck.  I don’t know.  I’ve given up supposing I know what “correct” is.  All around me I see and hear people supposing they know, and making choices that I can’t imagine are His plan.  Every day I do my “listen to the Bible in a year” plan and in the Old Testament I hear things that I just flat don’t believe were His best plan for the folks in the stories of power, property, and flat-out bloodlust – my view on the OT has changed dramatically in the almost 8 months I’ve been listening and considering.

I give up on correct.  I am Karen.  I am seeking God in my own highly imperfect way.  I want to live in a way that makes Him smile.  I want to do things that point to Him, and don’t discourage others.  I am determined to tell the truth about who I am and where I am, even if others find it awkward and entirely too open.  I know that I know that I know that He is, and that He is good, and that He far surpasses our understanding.

For now, this works for me.

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