Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Look at the Grapes

Yesterday, I visited the doctor for myself; first time in a long time. She quickly diagnosed me with bronchitis and I wondered if she regretted giving me a hug when she had entered the exam room. Bronchitis is pretty contagious. Smile.

At any rate, I'm now loaded with antibiotics and some pretty powerful cough medicine. (I know it's powerful because I'm having extreme difficulty typing.) So if something is misspelled or doesn't really make sense don't worry, I'll try to correct it later. I've just felt very strongly for the past couple of days that I needed to share something with the young moms and women in ministry; hopefully it will be a point of encouragement for everyone. So here goes......

Several years ago, we were in need of a new vehicle. Not the "Oh, I'd sure love that new car smell again" kind of need. More like the "Oh no, the transmission just fell out on our way to church" kind of need. (That isn't an exaggeration.)

We had already been praying for some time and there just didn't seem to be any possibilities opening up. Losing the transmission in our van was the last straw and we KNEW something had to be done.

A great series of events started unfolding that I won't take time to detail but here is the cliff note version:
  • My sister spotted a potential vehicle advertised in a community paper that she usually threw in the trash. The van was in excellent condition and listed for a reasonable price. She and Chris went to see it and called to excitedly report their findings.
  • We called the lady selling it and she said, "I don't know why I even listed it. I love my van and don't really want to sell it." She had already turned down several other buyers. So the fact that we couldn't make the three hour trip to see it until Monday was no problem.
  • Surprisingly, a mechanic in our church just happened to be available to make the drive to Raleigh with Frank on Monday so he could check it out for us. And just as we thought, it was in excellent condition both mechanically and visually. (I'm sure that isn't the proper car terminology but that's not my area, okay?)
  • Frank called our local bank and was immediately approved for a personal loan covering the entire amount over the phone.
Now most people would look at these four "miracles" and draw one simple conclusion: The Lord must be providing this van for the replacement of the one that just died. End of story, right? Wrong.

We were, at that time, pioneer pastors living on an extremely tight budget. And when Frank told me what the monthly payment on that miracle loan would be, my knees went weak. I knew everything that had led up to this moment and I knew all the impossibilities we had already successfully crossed but the giant of that monthly responsibility just caused paralyzing fear to overwhelm me.

Frank could hear it in my voice. But instead of launching into a lecture about my weak faith, he simply said, "Let's take this afternoon and pray. We don't have to make a decision this second."

So even though it meant delaying the trip home for him and our friend we decided that a time of prayer was more important. I immediately called an older, wiser friend in Asheville to pray with us. I was giving her a quick update on the situation when she abruptly interrupted me. "Sheri, look at the grapes." Her interruption startled me so that for a minute I wondered if she had even been listening to me.


"You need to stop looking at the giants in this situation and look at the grapes. You are behaving just like the children of Israel. God has given you all these miraculous signs that He is providing this van for you and all you can see is how big the payment is going to be. Don't you know He is aware of that as well and has a plan? He just isn't letting you know all the details yet. That's where faith comes in."

Well, I was shocked! I mean, it wasn't her that was having to live by faith in this pioneer work, it was me! Didn't she realize that? She wasn't the one trying to care for three little girls on such a limited income. How could she feel justified in lecturing me, she obviously didn't know our full situation. Because if she did..........

I was gathering quite a head of steam when I heard that 'still small Voice' say, "She's right, you know. Look away from the giant and choose to look at the grapes instead."

For the second time in an hour, my knees felt weak but this time it was due to an entirely different emotion. Faith was stirring in my heart - faintly - but stirring none the less.

"This is going to be a great testimony of God's provision for your family. It's something you need, not an extravagance. And He wants to bless you, Sheri. You just need to push fear aside and move forward choosing to look at the grapes!"

I began to choke back tears because I knew in my heart that she was exactly right. I thanked her, hung up the phone and quickly called Frank right back.

He was delighted that the Lord had spoken to my heart with peace for the matter and it was determined that we would take the van.

Now, that van ran great for five more years and had almost 200,000 miles on it when we traded it in. It was completely paid off and the dealership even gave us a $4,000 credit toward our next purchase. (Kind of like the Lord meant to say, "I can do exceeding abundantly above all you can ask or even think." Smile.)

Now, I'm not sure why I felt it so urgent to share this story. Maybe it will help boost your faith for whatever giants you're facing. This one thing I do know - God is faithful; you can trust Him!

Look at the grapes!

1 comment:

  1. Never thought to "look at the grapes" but what a true perspective - thank you for sharing!