God arms me with strength, and he makes my way perfect. [Psalm 18:32; NLT]
I have to admit that if I were somebody else, I might have read the verse above and thought to myself, “Good verse, but (“so what?”). But I can now say, when a verse like this pops into your mind, and out of your mouth – unbidden, it’s a different kind of duck! That’s what happened to me this morning, and it happened on the tail end of another adventure that began several days ago…
In 2009, I special ordered a little, one-axle trailer, and drove to the trailer dealership in Salt Lake City, Utah to pick it up. The trip occurred in December of the year, and I-80, westbound from Northern Colorado, was an evil adventure in blowing snow. Not unusual for I-80 in December, but unusual for me to attempt the drive, especially since I had no cogent idea of why I needed the vehicle in the first place!
In spite of losing sight of the road numerous times due to drifts of blowing snow, I made it there and back, and parked the beautiful little trailer in my backyard in Colorado. And baring a few uses, and a few loans to friends, there it remained until the pretty decals fell off, baked by the intense Colorado sun.
I always meant to modify the inside of the trailer to accommodate camping equipment, maybe even including an emergency, built-in sleeping cot, but as often as I would try to begin the modification, that project never got off the ground.
I then tried to sell the trailer to several of my peers in Colorado, who were adept at borrowing it to facilitate their use on their job sites, while remaining un-adept at offering to ante up, and I had to fight the offense continually incurred, as they made money from borrowing the vehicle, while getting the use of it absolutely free (at least they could have offered to pay…). I intended to decline the offers, but that never happened; a great, ongoing lesson about forgiveness was set in motion! It’s a lot different if it’s not just a chapter in someone’s book.
Several people told me to call them first if I ever wanted to sell the trailer, but amazingly they became too much in debt when I finally contacted them. I suppose “Free” was their price all along. So I took the liberty of trying to keep the stored vehicle full of miscellaneous stuff, so it would be too much bother to borrow. That worked, but the item still sat in my backyard as the years rolled by.
The little trailer did yeoman’s service when we moved out of Colorado, but after moving out of the state, I found myself storing it in another backyard, only this time I ran amok of the HOA by having 14” of it visible above my privacy fence. Several of my neighbors, in trouble with the HOA for storing their similar trailers in their driveways, snitched me off because their misery likes my company. But by this time, I had prayed and told God that if the trailer became an issue, I would take it as His leading to sell it. The life expectancy of the single-axle albatross had indeed finally expired.
Through a little, compact series of miracles, I met a neighbor who turned me on to a Marketplace website, and advertising it there, put me in contact with a man nearby who needed the trailer. Texting each other, we agreed on a price, and he picked up the trailer. During the transfer of the title, he asked if I would care if he understated the sales price – standard practice and widely accepted, in order to dodge an odious portion of state sales tax. Not technically wrong, because the agreed upon shortage in the selling price was not preceded by the word “only”, I didn’t wrinkle too much at the idea (not my ‘first rodeo’, etc.), until about midnight this morning.
Getting up to pray, God spoke to me forcefully with an unshakable impression, and told me that in His eyes, I had made myself a party to lying and stealing. Worse, He told me that if I chose to continue down this shaded path, the blessing of God on me and my household would be forfeited! Not what one wants to hear at midnight.
I resolved to remedy the issue immediately (always the best time to do so with God) and texted the buyer that I would be happy to pay the taxes for both of us, or just as happy to refund the difference down to the shortened sale price. With eternity in mind, money is an awfully small matter, and altering a great quote, “Long after the price is forgotten, the sin lives on.”
I woke up later to get breakfast going and received a text reply from the buyer. He humbly apologized for putting my conscience at risk and said he would gladly abide by the full purchase price. Where can you find people this upright? I know of one who lives in my state, and I like him even more than I did when I first met him.
I meant what I said when I replied to his text that he owed me no apology, as we both are fellow humans in the same boat. I sent it with a heartfelt smile, as one would do when surprised by meeting a brother in a chance encounter. And it was as I was praising the Lord while putting the bacon on my griddle that the verse above popped out of my mouth! It was so sudden, so unplanned, that I was stunned. I had to look it up to find where it was located in the Bible, but I found it in Psalm 18.
For me, there have been many lessons learned in the last few years, but not so many as I’ve seen in the last few months. Rather than being ashamed of myself for being complicit in lying and stealing, I’m eternally grateful to God for pulling me out of the hole I was letting my greed dig. God gave me a timely word that served to maintain His hand of blessing over my household, but also positively impacted a rare man of integrity He also wanted to touch with His blessing. And I have to wonder…only God would go to all this effort to reveal Himself to a person, but it is so like Him to do so.
Some might wonder why all the to-do concerning a simple little trailer. Well, I suppose some things just have to be personally experienced. I see the unmistakable hand of Almighty God in what otherwise would be a non-story, and I’m blessed to tell you about it.
If you have ears to hear, you’ll find advice here to help maintain your own blessings from God; but if not, all you’ve wasted (so far) on this side of eternity, is the time it took you to miss the point. And if you don’t already have ears to hear, or the heart to want to hear from God, nothing I can say would matter. To me, God is more than real, He is the ultimate Reality. He can be that real to you too, if you want. At least, that’s His heart for you.
He is only hidden from those who don’t want to find Him. And as someone once said about Jesus, He only sent some away empty because they were so full of themselves.
John – just another fellow-traveler