Give and it shall be given unto you: good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over shall men give into your bosom…” Luke 6:38
Names in Scripture are an index to character. That’s why God often changed people’s names. For example, Jacob (which means the usurper or deceiver) became Israel the conquering prince. In English my name means “helper,” and I was pretty pleased with that until I came to Bolivia and found out that in Spanish, the diminutive of my name, “Codito,” means stingy. Not cool. But as I thought about it, I had to admit I am not naturally a generous person.
In many ways I am selfish and parsimonious. Sure, I’m a helper: I help myself right well! I think that is at least half of the reason God assigned me to mission work: to show me what a mess I am and how much I need Him! All I can say is, “Lord, have mercy! I don’t want to be this way anymore! Please help me!”
So over the last few years I have slowly been learning how to be more giving. (Only one of the many areas in my character that needs an overhaul, but thankfully God is a Master at recreation, and He’s very patient too!)
A couple years ago, I decided to part with my Honda Accord “Sliver,” as grandma had christened my trusty vehicle of 186,000 miles. Since Sliver sat 9 to 10 months out of the year while I was in Bolivia, he began to show his age in a rather accelerated deterioration. I thought of selling the car, but after I prayed about what I should do, I found out that a group of Bible workers needed another vehicle, and I felt impressed to give them my car. Selfishness, however, is a pervasive weed, and its roots run deep and wide. I decided on what seemed to be a mutually beneficial deal: I would give them the car with the condition that I would be allowed to drive it while on furlough! The bible workers gratefully accepted the terms.
Alas, two months later, one of the Bible workers crashed the car into a bridge while texting. Thankfully he was unharmed, but the vehicle was totaled. The towing company came after me,
even though I had signed the car over, and my dad had to field the phone calls from the collection agency since I was back in Bolivia.
I should never have given away my car! I fumed. But I couldn’t help but remember that I had prayed and God had given me peace about the decision at the time. So I tried to surrender my frustration to the Lord. It all came storming back however during my next trip home. My wife and I had to rely on others to transport us to and fro, and although my dad let us use his truck, we didn’t feel at liberty to just go wherever whenever we needed to.
This year when I knew we would be in the U.S. for close to six months, I again felt tempted to lament my decision to give away my car. Instead, I decided to ask God to provide us some means of transportation while we were home. My mom and grandma prayed as well. I thought that someone would probably just loan us a vehicle while we were home. As I continued to pray, I remembered a conversation with a friend of ours from North Dakota about four months previously. He had invited us to come visit the next time we were in the states.
“If you need wheels, just let me know” he had said. Immediately I wrote him to find out if his offer was still standing.
“Let me check” was his response. As it turned out, he had already given away the vehicle he had planned to let us use, but he didn’t tell us that at the time. Instead, his wife shared one of our mission stories at their local church, and then made known our need. After the service, a man approached our friend and said his mom had a car that we could use, as she was in a care home and no longer able to drive.
“What sort of condition is this car in? What if you break down on the drive back home? How are you going to return it when it is time for you to go back to Bolivia? There was no shortage of questions to try my faith.
I called our friend and asked for our benefactor’s name and number so I could thank him and also find out a few things about the car.
“So who is this guy that’s loaning you his car?” My dad asked when I got off the phone. “What’s his name?” Dad used to live in the same part of North Dakota, so he was curious if he knew who it was. When I told him, Dad was shocked.
“You have got to be kidding me!” My dad not only knew the man, but their last interaction those many years ago had been somewhat less than positive.
“Does he know who you are?” Dad asked.
“I don’t know.” I shrugged. But after this new revelation I really didn’t want to call and find out! After a brief struggle however, I decided I had nothing to lose. God seemed to be answering my prayers this far.
When I called and introduced myself, the man told me he had been talking more with his wife and that they had decided to just give us the car! All I had to do was find a way to get from California to North Dakota to pick it up!
I checked flights, but they were too expensive, so I decided to ride the train. I would go alone to save money. Or so I thought. As I was buying my ticket online, I noticed a field that said “enter your ticket voucher number here.” Hmm. I wonder how I could get one of those. I thought. Why don’t you ask on Facebook? The answer seemed obvious. Within minutes I had a
reply. Another missionary friend of ours had Amtrak vouches that he couldn’t use and offered to buy Lyli’s ticket!
In North Dakota we had a wonderful weekend with our friends and were able to share more mission stories at one of the local churches. Another stranger gave us enough money to get the car insured and pay for our trip home. The car was low-mileage and in excellent condition, newer and better than the car I gave away! Two of the tires were quite worn, but we had no problems on the long drive back to my grandparents’ house in Idaho.
And that’s pretty much an example of how our six months stateside went. It seemed that nearly every time we tried to do something for someone else, we ended up getting back five, ten and even a hundred times as much blessing in return, sometimes from people who didn’t even know that we had just helped someone else! It was just wild! God proved again and again to us that His promise is true: “Give, and it shall be given unto you: good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over…”