(Warning: this is a very looooong post and will be best enjoyed with a leisurely cup of hot tea or coffee.)
Our family has been blessed to experience many "Red Sea" moments. You know, times when the impossible situation you are facing can only be remedied by divine intervention. This is a recording of one such miracle; only this one was not just for the Hawley family - it involved an entire church!
In 2007, Frank was driving an older model station wagon which we affectionately referred to as "the green hornet". Now, this car had been provided for us at a much needed moment and we were grateful. But the nursing along that it required was reaching epic proportions.
That summer Meagan came to me in the kitchen one day and said, "Mom, I think we should mention to the board that Dad really needs a newer car to drive. If they knew how bad the green hornet is getting, they would want to do something. Pastor appreciation day would be a great time." (I've spoken often of the wonderful people we serve and our leadership are indeed people of lavish care!)
"Oh goodness no, Honey!" I was surprised by Meagan's boldness. "God would have to lay that on someone's heart. It wouldn't be right for US to present such an idea."
"Well then, I'm gonna pray!" (Somehow the babies in most families aren't hampered in their thinking by conventional protocol.)
I smiled the older, wiser smile of experience and responded, "Okay, Honey. You do that."
[Insert extra information: We have had the privilege of talking with others involved in this miracle story and gleaned a basic time line from multiple perspectives.]
Fast forward several weeks to the kitchen of a family in our church. Don came down the stairs and said to his wife Sharon, "I had the funniest dream last night."
Because he seldom ever remembered dreams, Sharon was all ears.
"I dreamed that we gave the Hawleys a new vehicle."
"Wouldn't that be wonderful. But it certainly would have to be a God-thing; heaven knows we don't have such resources!" Sharon was amused then went on with breakfast preparations; dream forgotten.
But Don couldn't get the dream off his mind. So, he shared it with a couple of our board members next time they were together.
Some conversation ensued and the dream became a spark. The spark caught some Holy Spirit oxygen and became a flame. The board as a whole got excited about the possibility of doing something that big and made a decision - they would present it to the congregation and see what happened.
[Insert Info: Our congregation is not large, nor do we have any wealthy families. They are simply honest, hard-working people with very large hearts! Pastor Appreciation Day was always acknowledged - but this was on a whole new level.]
The next Sunday, our family was asked to not come into the auditorium until we were called for. Odd, but okay.
We had no idea what was going on but God was about to add kerosene to the flame. The board asked Don to share his dream and idea. Each individual was asked to prayerfully consider what they could contribute to the amount the board was hoping to raise. And suddenly the flickering flame became a raging fire of possibility!
Twice more over the next few weeks, we were asked to wait in the offices until called for. By this time we knew something was afoot but no one was volunteering any information. None of the leadership, none of our staff, not one teenager, not a child slipped even once! It was as though everyone would leave the service and simply forget what was happening.
But behind the scenes, God was orchestrating a truly incredible miracle!
We were later told that no one family gave a large offering. It was simply a pulling together of the resources of every single person in the church. People began to receive unexpected income; several pledged; a few sold things they hadn't been able to sell; and so on. But the money began to slowly be gathered
Two weeks before Pastor Appreciation Day, one of our board members spotted a potential vehicle on a lot in town. When he approached the salesman with the story of what was taking place, the salesman was amused but knew this vehicle was no where near what the church was raising.
Bill asked him to pitch it to the manager anyway - just in case. To everyone's surprise, the manager agreed to drop the price of the vehicle by $8,000 in order to match what the church now had. Several came to check out the car and it was decided that this was indeed the one they wanted!
By this time, people all over our community were hearing of the miracle that was taking place at Garden Grove Church.
One member was even approached in Wal-mart by a stranger. "I'm sorry to bother you," she said. "I couldn't help but overhear your phone conversation." (The member had been excitedly giving an update report to her sister over the phone.) "I think what you folks are doing for your pastor is just wonderful. It gives me hope about church people."
On the morning of Pastor Appreciation Day, our church was packed to the point of standing room only and the air in the auditorium was electric!
Frank preached but we had already been warned that no one would really hear what he was saying. They were all awaiting the end of the service when a special presentation would be made.
The board had asked Don to serve as spokesman. Our staff was recognized and blessed. Then we were called to the platform and presented with a lovely card containing a Wal-mart gift card for $300.00.
"You all are on the road all the time and we wanted to help with some of your gas expenses," we were told. "Oh, thank you. Thank you so much," it really was a generous gift in our thinking. Time for lunch.
Don looked out at the sea of beaming faces and said simply, "Alright Garden Grove. You know what to do."
Without a single word or whisper; no back ground music at all; the entire congregation quickly vacated the room and left us standing on the platform looking at the empty chairs!
In just a minute a signal came from the foyer and Don said, "Okay, Hawley family. Let's go."
We followed obediently and were led to the parking lot where the entire congregation was gathered. When we came through the doors, they parted to reveal a beautiful Chevy Tahoe adorned with a huge red velvet bow!
Tears were flowing, cameras were clicking, applause and shouts of praise to the Lord were heard all around.
We were standing together in a MIRACLE MOMENT!!
And truth be known, it wasn't even about the pastors or our family or any one individual. It was really about God showing His darling people what happens when everyone pulls together and believes for the impossible to become possible.
It was quite simply one of the most amazing moments of our lives! We were all in shock as the keys were handed over and we climbed in for a look at our beautiful new vehicle. This was truly beyond our wildest imaginings.
One member was videoing the proceedings and on the tape you can hear someone still sobbing once everyone had moved into the fellowship hall for lunch.
It was Meagan.
She slipped up behind me in the line and whispered through choking tears, "Mama, I prayed for a Tahoe! I asked God to give Daddy a Tahoe!!"
Ah dear readers, never underestimate the power of prayer nor the ability of God to fulfill your dreams! Even your wildest ones!!