Driven By Obedience

Living in obedience to the Lord isn’t always easy.  It often involves laying down our own wants and desires for what God wants.  I’d love to share with you how I’ve had some long history of promptly obeying the Lord, but that wouldn’t be accurate.  In fact I’ve had to learn through the prompting of the Holy Spirit at times, what obedience even looks like. I’ve often gleaned knowledge through the examples of others who’ve walked in the faith for a lengthier period than I.  It’s solely due to the surrendered-heart-of-obedience of others that I have this story to share. 

Oh Lord, you know this car of mine isn’t going to last much longer’, were the words I spoke softly to myself while putting gasoline in my tank a few blocks from home.  ‘I don’t have a husband, or any other resources to help me purchase another car, and you know that.  So I’m choosing to trust that you will provide for me another car sometime soon.  You are the only husband I have right now.’ 

I’d had many conversations with God reminding Him of my earthly needs, as well as the spiritual need I had for Him.  Those 16 years of single-parenting were some of the hardest years of my life.  My perpetual need for Him, ushered me into total reliance on Him.  During that time in my life, He faithfully met every need I had, regardless of how faithful I was to Him in return.  Of course no matter how faithful His track record was, I still found myself in a constant state of worry, when it came to the ‘hows’ and ‘whens’ of His provisions.  Truth be told, I hated having to rely on God.  I wanted to be self-reliant, not God-reliant as we were all created to be.  

So with my two daughters in the backseat, and my little two-door car filled with gasoline, I was off on my pre-planned trip to see a friend I hadn’t seen in years.  Kari was a childhood Christian friend of mine, who I had recently re-connected with a few  years prior.  She was now a married mom of three, living roughly 2-hours away.  So that spring of 2003 she arranged a get-together for my daughters and I at her home.  This would be an amazing day spent with her, and her family, after not having seen each other for 20 years.  

But living life as a struggling single mom, while trying desperately to fit in amongst married friends isn’t always easy.  One example is that married folks often own cars that look a little more respectable than those of us single-parent folks who work fiercely just to produce enough food on the table.  When it came to modes of transportation, I never knew how much longer my car would last, and I certainly feared anyone I knew seeing me get in or out of it (let alone drive it).  

My dilapidated car had accumulated a lot of miles between its last owner and I, causing it to lose its aerodynamic look, many mile markers ago.  Its doors often failed to open when they should, several hubcaps were missing, windows would randomly fall down on their own…and in order to get into the car, I would occasionally have to enter by way of the trunk.  

Yep…the trunk.  

When the doors didn’t open, I could pop open the trunk and climb in. I would then need to reach forward and push down on the back seats, in an effort to gain access into the driver’s seat, so I could operate the vehicle.  However…once I started the car, I had the assurance that at least the seat belts worked faithfully!  

Following the prayerful moment that morning at the gas station, I arrived that afternoon safely at my friend’s home.  It was an incredible blessing to see her after all those years, and we connected as if time had stood still.  Having the Lord, as a commonality between us, promoted the rapid recreation of a great friendship.  I was to stay that night at a relative’s home in a nearby town, then return to my friend’s the next morning for a quick ‘goodbye’ on my way home the next day.  

As I walked out of her home following that first treasured visit, she began to walk with me to my car. This was something which I had failed to anticipate.  I began to feel an awkward sense of shame rush through me when I realized that my effort to methodically park several houses down from hers would serve no purpose in saving me from the embarrassment of her seeing my car.  The hospitality she extended in walking me to my car, would inevitably lead her to see it.    

Then to make an even more embarrassing situation…humiliating; my car doors would not unlock once she and I stood in front of this ‘classic’ form of transportation I had.  Of course the doors refusing to comply when I hit the “unlock” mechanism, only drew further attention to my car’s deficiencies.  Lastly, my mortification became complete as my friend then ran to get her husband to come out and hopefully be of some assistance. How she thought my car would obey him, I will never know.  She and her husband would now both be in plain sight of what I drove.  

At this point one of my daughters attempted to put this couple’s mind at ease by mentioning boldly to them how all we needed to do was climb through the trunk’, and that entering the car this way was ‘normal’.  

Shame was now in full gear, and I could have died!  

My daughter proudly illustrated to them what she meant, by crawling through the trunk, and unlocking the doors for my other daughter and I to get in.  So once my state of impoverished living was clearly in plain sight, I quickly started my car, hung my head in shame, all the while waving my hand out the window, driving out of sight as quickly as possible.  

Though thoroughly embarrassed to return, I reluctantly arrived back at my friend’s home the next day as I had promised.  Kari greeted me with a nervously enthused smile on her face, as she invited me in.  She proceeded to tell me something the Lord had laid on both her and her husband’s heart that evening following our visit.  She shared how they believed that the minivan they had intended to sell, was something the Lord had reserved for them to give to me.  

I was speechless.  

She prefaced sharing this with me, by saying that they in no way wanted me to feel uncomfortable by their generous offer.  She and her husband simply wanted to be; obedient to the Lord.

At this point in my story, I can’t help but reflect back to another heart of obedience.  That heart belonged to Mary, the mother of Jesus.  One of the books in the Bible that we meet Mary in, is in Luke of the New Testament.  This 1st century Jewish girl didn’t have an automobile laid upon her heart to give to someone in need, but she was driven to please God through her heart of obedience just the same. In a society where being an unwed mother could be a death sentence, Mary chose to obey God and become pregnant by the Holy Spirit, prior to her marriage to her fiance.  She would deliver mankind from an even bigger need than a car; by giving birth to the Savior of mankind.  Mary’s obedient heart would give way to her young lips stating “I am the Lord’s servant, may it be done according to your word.”   

Neither my friend, nor Mary, allowed their head to get caught up in what their heart of obedience would cost them.  Both Mary, and Kari (along with her husband), simply said “yes” to what God asked of them.  Neither of these thoughtful women tried to renegotiate a different deal with God.  A deal that perhaps wouldn’t have dealt Mary the shame of an unexpected premarital pregnancy.  Or for Kari, and her husband, a deal that would have been more economically profitable, one which would provide them with the $7500.00 they had expected to receive should they have sold their minivan instead of being called to give it away.  Yet both women had great faith, and considered it an honor to be used by their God, to meet the needs of others.  

Kari and her husband asked nothing of me, other than to be willing to receive the gift God wanted to give to me.  Meanwhile, my head was in a whirl as I reflected back on the prayer I had said while getting gasoline less than 48 hours earlier.  I couldn’t fathom God meeting that need so quickly, and through someone I hadn’t seen in roughly 20 years.      

Though this was an amazing gesture of kindness on Kari and her husband’s part, I didn’t want to accept the van just because it was freely being given.  I wanted God to confirm it was His plan for me to receive it, just as they were convinced it was His plan to give it.  So as crazy as it may sound, I thanked her profusely, and asked if I could pray earnestly for God to make it clear to me by the end of the week.  

I expressed concern to Kari over the potential loss of income they would have, by not selling the van as they had been trying to do. So I told her that while I waited on God that week, if they received an offer to purchase the van, they should go ahead and sell it.  In my mind, if a buyer came along, while I had been praying, I would know it was not the Lord’s will for me to have that van.  

I spent the next week in prayer, which led me to call my friend the following Friday with the news confirming that I too, believed as she did, that God wanted me to have her beautiful van.  She was thrilled to hear my voice, and overjoyed to share with me how a man had called inquiring of the van just that week.  She retold to me how he had left his number on her answering machine, but when she went to return the call, the number he had provided was somehow not valid, and that he never called back again.  She laughed continuously as she shared how God had blocked a potential sale from happening so I would be the new owner.  

I was then told the history of their attempts to sell their well-maintained minivan for roughly 7 months.  This minivan had never received any inquiries throughout that time period regardless of having been faithfully advertised in the paper.  No inquiries of course until the one gentleman called that was unreachable.  Kari said that it was the most perplexing thing, to have no one show interest, and that they constantly checked to confirm their listing was published.  She and her husband couldn’t figure out what was happening, until God revealed the road of obedience they were to take in furnishing it to me.  

Being a mode of transportation for the Lord to do His will was rewarding to both Mary of the New Testament, as well as for my friend and her husband. Mary’s heart reflected her understanding that her purpose in life was obedience, and because of that, “all nations would call her blessed” (Luke 1:48).  She was willing to make sacrifices, so that others could prosper from her obedience…as was my friend.   

When we adhere to the yield signs God makes visible, and step out of the driver’s seat, by relinquishing the wheel of authority to Him, others benefit from having a roadmap to follow.  May we always remember to put the brakes on from catering to our own will, so we too; can have a heart; driven by obedience. 

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