Goodbye to Chipmunk
by Kim Schuelke
He sits in the sun, gleaming with perfection. His purr is smooth and quiet, his obedience immediate. Noticing a speck of dirt on him, I quickly wash it off. I must take the best possible care of this beautiful gift from God.
Only a week ago, our family still drove the ultimate humiliation: a twelve year old car with rust so bad that the finish was peeling off in sheets. A thin, yellow foam cushion, streaked with finger roads and pencil potholes, filled the space once covered by the headliner. In place of a lower dashboard panel, wires dared little fingers to try an electrical experiment.
We long since gave up trying to figure out why the “check engine” light came on when the seat belts were fastened. On cold days the heater sometimes granted comfort, only to suddenly withhold its solace, as though to remind us that we were definitely not in charge. My husband, a mechanic born of necessity, but not of talent, was weary of remembering how many hours he had worked on the car. Patch the fuel line—twelve hours; change the brake shoes—six hours; fix the windshield washer pump—four hours; change the front shock absorbers—12 hours; on and on it went.
As the odometer sped closer to 200,000 miles, our flivver became critically ill. The transmission slipped noticeably more each day. A different piece of molding popped off each time we got in the car. The rear seat belts were inoperable. The rear stereo speakers fell out. Coming to a complete stop was like bumping down a washboard. Twice a week, two or three neighbor children joined us for a ride to church. Then our little four seater, with the eight of us inside, limped along as I held my breath, prayed, and fought with the steering.
“Lord,” I finally prayed, “we can’t go on like this.” I talked to Him about how dangerous the car was and how all our savings for the past year had gone into car repairs. I reminded him that we needed a bigger vehicle, so that we could transport more people to church. As my husband and I began praying and talking out our situation over the next several months, our pastor began preaching on prayer. He encouraged us to pray specifically for our needs. How else, he asked, would we know for sure that when something happed it was an answer to our particular prayer? Over a period of about three months, we continued praying, waiting on God to lead us on.
Finally, we felt in our spirits that it was time to start looking. We had a list of recommended places. We laid out a plan and began looking. After looking at only 2 lots, we knew exactly what we felt was needed.
“Lord,” I began praying, “we need a 1993 Ford Taurus station wagon with about 50,000 miles on it. I reminded Him of our limited price range. That reminded me that if we actually got what we were asking for, it would be a true act of God.
For two more days we traipsed from lot to lot searching for “our car.” A neighbor recommended a used car lot that wasn’t on our list. They had a station wagon. We went down for a test drive. Something broke loose during our drive and we barely made it back to the lot. Tired and discouraged, we headed for home. We passed the only lot we hadn’t tried and a beautiful green station wagon caught my eye.
“Did you see that?” I yelled out.
“Too much” my husband answered.
“How do you know?” I countered “Just try it.”
“We couldn’t afford it.” He answered again.
“But how do you know?” I repeated. “Just try it!”
Without warning, my husband did a U-turn in the middle of the very busy highway, and we pulled in. In only a few minutes, my husband threaded his way to the other end of the lot. My children and I were still “oohing” and “ahhing” over each of the cars on the lot. The owner of the lot strode up and introduced himself.
“I’m looking for a car.” I said.
“Great,” he answered. Then he laughed. “I’m looking for a customer.”
“I’m a tough customer,” I warned him.
The beautiful green wagon turned out be an exact match to my prayers. It was a 1993 Ford Taurus station wagon with 58,000 miles on it. Four times the salesman asked us if we could pay any more than the price I’d specified. Each time my answer was the same: not one cent more. God must have really wanted that wagon for us, because we got the wagon for exactly the price we named!
Finally, paperwork completed, we exchanged our old flivver’s keys for the wagon keys. Our salesman took a “happy customer” picture of us and then drove our “broken down, rusted out chipmunk” behind the building. No doubt it went straight to a salvage yard somewhere. No one would want it.
Yet as I watched our flivver limp away, I thanked God for it. He used it to teach me patience. He used it to teach me humility. Most of all, he used it to teach me how to pray. Now I really know what Hebrews 13:6 means when it says, “Come boldly.” Pray specifically and He will answer specifically!