Friday, September 02, 2011


So, here is how God worked in my life this week. Of course, God works in my life all the time and I just don't notice it but here is how God hit me over the head with her love this week.

The exhaust system fell out of my '99 Nissan Sentra on Sunday. As Anne Lamott says, it's like my car just prolapsed. The tow truck driver laughed at how entirely it has fallen down. Since it is a 12-year-old car and we have a brand-new baby whose safety we need to consider, this is the moment to let Ole Blue go.

That was my thought, anyway.

However, I'm mature enough to know that my husband might not feel the same way. So, after getting a quote of $417 from the mechanic that my parents and I have relied upon for over a decade, I went back to Jacob to see what he thought.

Together, we made the decision to donate the car to Willow Creek's ministry that fixes up cars with volunteer labor and gives them to single moms who need them, just like we did with our last car.

I called the mechanic early the next morning to let him know that we wouldn't be having the work done and to ask if we could leave the car in his lot for a few days until the ministry came to pick it up. He sputtered a little and was definitely surprised. He said, "That's not what I would do."

Chip is notoriously full of integrity and he rarely offers unsolicited advice so I asked him what he WOULD do. He said that if we did the work, we could probably sell it for $1000.

I thanked him but said we wanted the ministry to have.

Then, I hung up the phone and began to second-guess myself. Donating the car was all well and good when I didn't know the opportunity cost but $600 is not a small amount of money around here anymore since I quit my job. Plus, that's more than 100% ROI. We do a lot more creative moving around of our investments to make a lot less than that, both in total cash And ROI. Even considering the convenience factor of not having to find a buyer in addition to the tax deduction, was this the best choice for us?

I called my dad because I respect the spiritual advice he would give me. He said a lot of things and assured me that whatever choice I made would be a good one because Jacob and I believe that what we have belongs to God so act on that belief in several different ways. Dad said he was sure that our values of tithing and of leaving a small consumer footprint in all of the areas of our life would balance out whatever choice we made about the car.

This reminded me that the end goal of donating the car was to put it in the hands of someone whose life was very difficult without a reliable car. Since a person that would buy a car for $1000 is either a teenager, or more likely, a person who can't afford anything better. $1000 cars are always pieces of shit that require a lot of money in maintenance, but the market value stays high because the buyers are usually desperate and can't come up with the extra money for a more reliable investment. Earning that profit would mean I was benefitting from someone else's dire straits. Giving it away meant that a similar owner would get the car in better condition since the ministry would fix everything, not just the fallen exhaust system. Also, less resources would be lost to a middle man/men.

So, I chased my doubts and stood firm in our decision to donate the car.

Then, Chip called me back.

My resolve wavered.

He asked if I would sell it for $300.

Whew! Not nearly as tempting as $600. Easy to refuse.

Except, it was for guy Chip knew who had been out of work for two years and Chip was going to front him the money for the car.

Actually, this was even better. All of my spiritual goals would be met plus we would get $300. Win. Win.

Giving a gift is fun. Making it so that someone else can give the gift is even better.

Thanks, God.

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