No Cash for my Clunker

In the mid 70’s my clunker crashed and I needed to buy a new car. For me, “new” was a late model Oldsmobile Cultlass (the hottest car in America in those days) with low mileage and clean from bumper to bumper. Having studied Kelley’s Bluebook, I knew the price the private seller offered was $600 below the dealer’s best price.

After a mechanic’s inspection, I gave the seller a $100.00 deposit to hold the perfect car until my down payment arrived. There was no cash from the government back then but I was expecting some money that was owed to me – the proverbial check that was arriving in the mail on Wednesday. Thursday, I would go to the bank, make the loan, and complete the purchase.

You will not be surprised when I tell you the check was NOT in the mail on Wednesday. No panic — the government-run post office was working at its usual level of proficiency, but it will certainly arrive on Thursday.

You’re ahead of me – I know – no check on Thursday either.

At that point it seemed obvious that God was unaware of my dilemma so I explained things to Him at level He could understand. In my whiniest voice I said: “Lord, the bank is closed on Saturday. If the check doesn’t arrive tomorrow I will lose my $100.00 deposit, somebody else will buy my perfect car, and I will be walking. And Lord, since You know I need this car to serve You, I’m sure You will come through and make sure the check arrives on time.”

Friday I went to the mailbox and stared into a black hole – no check. First I pouted. Then I got mad and let God know, in no uncertain terms, how unhappy I was with the lousy job He had done. As I stewed and steamed beside my empty mailbox, the owner of the Cutlass pulled up in my drive.

My attempt to explain the non-arrival of the promised check was cut short as he returned my deposit check. “I can’t sell the car to you,” he said. “State investigators have impounded the vehicle – it was stolen.” Seeing the confusion on my face, he explained, “I’m out the money I paid for it and out of a car. If you had bought it you’d be where I am.”

As he drove away, I slowly and sheepishly looked up to heaven and said, “Oh.”

I did all the right things a responsible buyer should do. I determined the value of the car. I had it inspected. I arranged a good, affordable loan. I did all my homework. But there was something about this deal that I didn’t know – that I could not have known.

But God knew.

He also knew that from my youthful inexperience I wouldn’t understand at first … and from my immaturity I would behave like a spoiled child. That didn’t prevent His love from protecting me.

I learned some valuable “life lessons” that day. I learned that …

  • God is really smart
  • He always knows what He is doing (even when I think He doesn’t)
  • His grace cannot be conquered by my moods
  • He will always do what is best for His children
  • He will never harm me
  • He is a really good Father

One more thing: it isn’t always bad when the check isn’t in the mail.

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