Monday, November 10, 2008

My First Car

When I was a junior in high school, I spent a lot of time with my friend Craig. And since I didn't have a driver's license much less a car of my own, we necessarily spent a lot of time in his car, a brand- new 1989 Honda Civic DX hatchback. For obvious reasons, I never got to get behind the wheel of his car, but from the very first drive we took together, I was impressed. I was immediately struck by how far away from the dashboard my knees were (I was 6'9" tall at the time) and that there was actually some semblance of head room. The seats were comfortable, the ride was smooth and agile, and the car seemed to have pretty good "get up and go." It wasn't a luxurious or extravagant car by any means, but it was a nice car nonetheless. The icing on the cake for me was Craig's very simple stereo system--a "hi-power" tape deck and a pair of Pyle 4x10's that sounded simply amazing. The car had great acoustic properties.

Though by that time I had worked at Publix Supermarkets for over three years, I had no real savings to speak of and Dad made it very clear that I wasn't getting a dime from him to help me buy a car. In fact, Dad was talking about making me pay for the increase in their insurance premium! I had a whole lot going against me and not a whole lot going in my favor when it came to getting my first vehicle.

So one day I decided to tell my Heavenly Father what was on my mind. I don't remember the exact words I used, nor are they important, but as I recall, my prayer went something like this:

Lord, if it's okay with you, I'd like a car. You know, I've been riding around in Craig's car a lot lately, and I'm really impressed by it. Hondas are great cars--they last a long time and they have a low cost of ownership. And if it's okay, I'd like it to be a 5-speed manual because manual transmissions are more fuel efficient, more fun to drive and aren't as prone to problems. And you know what? That color--gold--is really cool. That's a sharp looking color for a car! Oh yeah, and I'd really like to have a hatchback, too, because it's a lot easier to get a decent-sounding "system" in a hatch than it is in a sedan."

That's it--pretty simple. I prayed that way often at first, then less frequently as time went on. After a while, it was something I brought up only occasionally in prayer. I don't know how long I prayed that way (though it seems as if it was quite a few weeks), but what I do know for certain is that I never told anyone about this prayer--not my friend Craig, not Mom, and certainly not my dad. But one day my dad blindsided me with a question: "How would you like to have a car?"

Now you have to understand something about my dad--he fancies himself a practical joker. The last time he gave me a gift for no reason was when I was in middle school. He brought home a little gift box (rather like a ring box as I recall) with a present in it. A gift for me from Dad! I was elated! I opened it up, looked at its contents and was totally befuddled.

"Huh? What is it?"

Dad explained that it was a hose fitting from somewhere on a Thermo-King refrigeration unit--the cooling units they put on semi trailers to keep milk cold. As my heart sank to somewhere near my ankles and I fought to hold back the tears, he just stood there and laughed.

So I when I heard him ask if I wanted a car, I was reluctant to say "yes"--I just *knew* had a had a Matchbox car (I used to collect them) in his pocket. And it was smashed, no doubt.

"What do you mean?" I queried, my suspicion manifest on my face.

"Well, my secretary says that she has this car in their driveway that doesn't run, but she says that if you can get it to run it's yours--for free."

Still skeptical, waiting for the punchline, I pressed him further. "What kind of car is it?" I began to envision myself driving around in a 1972 Plymouth Land Yacht--a laughter-eliciting hooptie.

Not hiding his irritation too well, he tersely replied "I don't know. Do you want the car or not?" I thought it over quickly and reasoned that a car is better than no car, so even if it was a Land Yacht, it had to be better than pushing around on a skateboard.

"Sure," I shrugged. "I'll take it."

It was status quo for the next couple of weeks, but then one night after skateboarding the full mile back to my house at 10pm after work, I rolled up to the house to see a car towing apparatus hooked to the back of my dad's vehicle. There was nothing on it, so I assumed that my barge awaited me in the garage. I entered as quietly as I could, rounded the corner and opened up the door to the garage. When I flipped on the lights, I couldn't believe my eyes. There before me was a small gold car--a hatchback. I didn't immediately recognize the make of the car, so I ran over to the driver's door and hopped in. I immediately recognized the logo in the middle of the steering wheel--it was a Honda! And it had a 5-speed manual transmission!

I was beside myself--I was sitting inside an answer to my prayers! The only thing I didn't pray about was the year of the car, so when I opened up the glove box and pulled out the aged owner's manual and it said "1978 Honda Accord", all I could do was chuckle. "I guess I forgot to pray about that." I mused.

This was the first concrete answer to prayer that I'd ever received from the hand of my Father in Heaven, and it set a precedent for asking God specifically for what was on my heart.

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