We were missionaries with three children, living in Three Hills, Alberta, ministering to the Stoney Indian people NW of Edmonton and to the Blackfoot Indian people east of Calgary. We lived by faith. People sent money regularly to us for our food, clothing, gas and rent. When we needed a bed for Brian, his kindegarten class at Prairie Bible Grade School found one for him and delivered it to our door.
It is not easy to live by faith, and just when you think you’ve arrived, something happens to bring you down a notch or two, and you learn a new lesson. Interestingly enough, God used cars in our lives to teach us to walk closer to Him in this life of faith.
One day, while living in Three Hills, we decided to take a trip to the Blackfoot Indian tribe east of Calgary to witness the re-signing of the treaty the tribe had made 100 years before with England. Many tribes gathered and set up their teepees on the prairie. Prince Andrew was there to put his signature to the paper.
So we packed a lunch and set off, traveling southeast about 100 miles. It was a nice sunny day when we started out, but we noticed big, black clouds forming on the horizon. By the time the ceremony was finished at the Indian encampment, a storm broke over the prairie. We dashed to the car and started home. Dan decided to take one of the gravel roads to show us some of the places where he and Ken Lobdell visited and shared the Gospel. The rain turned the so-called gravel road to mud in five minutes flat and we were in trouble.
We were driving a little Nash Rambler. We called it our “back woods” car. It wasn’t fancy, but it usually got us where we needed to go. On this day, Dan tried to get out of the gumbo mud, putting it in reverse and forward over and over. We got out of the mud and arrived at the pavement, but a few miles down the highway, our little car died, the clutch having burned out. As we sat beside the road, Brian and Sherry started to cry. To calm them, I said, “Don’t cry. God will give us another car.” I didn’t tell them that I felt like crying, too.
We walked to the nearest gas station and called our pastor. He said he’d call someone in the church to come and pick us up. We had enough money to buy something to eat while we waited. Finally the man came. We piled into his car and he drove us home. On the way, he said, “What are you going to do for a car now?” Dan replied, “I don’t know.”
After a pause, the man said, “Well, I happen to have a car in my barn. I’ve been meaning to offer it to you folks, but just never got around to it. Would you like it?”
Would we!! True to his word, he got the car out the next day, washed it up, took Dan to the government office, bought the license and insurance for it, and handed Dan the keys. We got in our “new” car (a 1971 Dodge) and felt like a million dollars as we took our first drive. I don’t think the kids ever forgot that lesson of faith. The very same day our old car died, another one was given to us!
What did we learn from this?
1) It isn’t taking charity to ask God for something you need and to receive it from someone who is used by Him to provide it. I know many people are too proud to accept a gift without paying them back with another gift. But we learned to accept gifts of all kinds, say a sincere word of thanks, and go about our work for the Lord. There was no way we could repay every gift given to us! Only the Lord could do that.
2) Pray about everything. God is interested in the tiny details of our lives. We learned to pray about everything, then we watched as He provided. If we needed a winter coat, we asked Him to provide it. If we needed gas, we looked to Him for it. Sometimes we even had to pray for groceries, and I can honestly say that we have never gone hungry.
3) Contentment and humility are fine things to have. I’d put these two virtues above material possessions any day. We have been humbled by our meager income for many years. It is hard to live by faith. We would rather have had lots of money and the luxury of buying what we thought we needed immediately. But many times we had to wait for God to provide it.
Jesus said, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matt. 6:33) I think the “things” Jesus referred to here are what we learned from a life lived by faith: contentment, peace, joy in the journey and a close-knit family.
You can’t get much better than that. Even if you are driving a 1971 Dodge!