This post is about how Jen and I lost my dream vehicle, the Toyota Tacoma, and how the process was one of the best things to happen to me. Some day we all will lose every material thing we could value. So what is important enough to really value?
I’m going to talk about how God answered our prayers, not to look good, but to encourage, “those who have ears to hear.” This post is to give God glory for answering prayers that Jen and I would view everything we have as from Him, that we would bless others with things He temporarily gives us, and that we’d value Him above all else. He answered, and I haven’t regretted it. I hope someone reading this will be able to say the same.
There is a part in a song by DC Talk which goes, “The disease of self runs through my blood, it’s a cancer fatal to my soul. Every attempt on my behalf has failed, to bring this sickness under control. What’s going on inside of me, I despise my own behavior. This only serves to confirm, my suspicion, that I’m still a man in need of a savior.”
In the spring of 2014, Jen and I started praying the things mentioned above. Shortly after, we had someone ask to use the Tacoma for a day. Let’s call this person Bill. We didn’t need the truck, so we let Bill use it. Within a few days, Bill asked again. My first thought, “Oh crap, this could become a pattern.”
Then I felt God, “Do you want to serve others? Others have blessed you with their things. Are you serious about what you prayed?” So we let Bill use “our” truck again.
Sure enough, a day or two later, Bill asked to use the truck a third time. “Bret, do you really see the things I have given you as gifts from me?”
“Ok God, You gave it to us, and we love Bill, and we don’t need the truck today, so no problem…”
As you can guess, this continued. Almost daily. But we couldn’t give an unselfish reason to say no. I’d think to myself, “Well we don’t NEED it, but what if WE want to go somewhere. I don’t have a good reason to say no, but do I need one? It’s MY truck.” But Jen and I would call each other out whenever one of us was feeling selfish, which switched back and forth.
This pattern continued for about half a year, about every couple of days. Sometimes, at the end of a long day, 10 or 12 at night, the truck would be close to empty, and my selfish heart would say, “Just take it home and Bill can fill the truck with gas.”
“Bret, do you really love and want to bless Bill?”
“But where do I draw the line?” Bill did need help, and it freed up other people that would have had to give Bill a ride.
Now, a couple times, when I thought Bill was taking advantage of us, I did say something about it. Also, I will say that Bill did put gas in the truck regularly, which did bless me and Jen, and did continually thank us for using it.
God would say, “Well you sin, and I show you grace and mercy. Are you going to not share things I gave you, which you don’t deserve, because you think Bill doesn’t deserve it? Let ME work on Bill’s heart.”
“OK GOD, GOOD GRIEF! We’ll let Bill use the truck.” As you can see, I really am selfish. The disease of self runs through my blood.
Sometimes Jen really did need a vehicle that day, but we still let Bill use the truck, because it blessed multiple people. That meant Jen had to wait to use a car, until after I got home, so we wouldn’t get to hang out that evening. It was tough. We had to pray for wisdom, and sometimes say no, because Jen and I really want to value our marriage above all else except our relationships with God, but we also want to serve sacrificially.
God continued to work on my heart. “Bret, what if Bill gets a ticket while using the truck?”
“…Well then Bill can pay it.”
“I paid your debt, which you could never have paid yourself.”
“Well it would be a good lesson for Bill.”
“True, but when you sin, do I more often use hard lessons or graciousness to bring you to repentance?”
“…UHHH. Ok, maybe I would even pay Bill’s ticket, depending on the situation. But God, you brought knowledge of my sin, and then paid for it after I apologized. And I’m so thankful for that. So if that happens, I will tell Bill, and if Bill is sorry, I will pay the ticket, as an extension of the love you show me.”
Then one day, I got a letter from the MVA. It was only a warning for speeding, during a time that I was at work. I showed the letter to Bill and said, “I care more about you than the truck, but even more than your physical well-being, I care about your heart.” I walked away from that conversation with a very real feeling that God was going to test that soon.
God pressed more, “What if Bill got in an accident?” Without hesitation in my heart, I knew I loved Bill more than the truck, and was OK with losing it.
A few weeks later, when I got to my car at the end of the day and checked my phone, I saw a number of messages from Bill and Jen. I suspected immediately what happened. Sure enough, Bill had lost control of the truck on a thin layer of snow, and veered into oncoming traffic. Bill was mostly fine, but the truck was totaled. I never even saw it again. It didn’t faze me at all. I had been half expecting it, and had already given the truck completely over to God.
When I got home, there were a lot of people there. I don’t know if they were there just to console Bill, or to make sure I wasn’t going to be really mad at Bill, lol. I walked in, said hi to Bill and everyone in the living room, and went straight to the kitchen like I normally do. It really didn’t matter. It was just a truck. God gave it, and He took it away. The end. Eventually I did talk to Bill, to give reassurance that I really didn’t care, and that I cared more about Bill’s heart. I wanted Bill to see evidence of God’s grace in the situation.
Let me share some evidences of His grace:
1 He had been working on our hearts for over half a year, almost on a daily basis. He had already been helping us to let it go, and value Him most of all. Amen.
2 God gave us a spouse that loved each other enough to call out our selfishness. (Side note: The world tells us things like don’t try to change the person you are with, and you should love people just how they are. Don’t believe it. God can change people. Still, whether it is a Bill that is taking advantage of you, or a spouse telling you to check your heart, to talk to someone about their sin, and have someone tell us about ours, can be hard. Or, you might even have a Bill that you have been showing love to, come to treat you as if you aren’t loving. Parents, can you attest to that? And don’t we do it to God? Be patient because God is patient with us. Yet Jesus suffered worse, by people He loved, that He came to save, accusing Him of not being whom He claimed to be. Be humble and honest when someone shows you your sin. When showing someone else theirs, be gentle and loving, but do not fear that they may not like you anymore. It is so bittersweet, when those we love accuse us of not loving them, for we cry out to God more, and we know He can relate to our suffering. 1 Peter 3:17 says, “For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right, rather than for doing what is wrong.”)
3 Bill was safe.
4 We got an insurance payout that we weren’t expecting. God also used that money to work on our hearts in the future, when deciding to move out, again asking what we valued most, which I talk about in a previous post.
5 We still had another vehicle, and really only needed one.
6 Bill did have other forms of transportation.
7 I got 9 years of use out of that truck.
I loved that truck. It was my dream vehicle. But Jen and I love God more, and we love Bill more. We can get another truck, but we can’t get another Bill. I used it for so much, but it was just a piece of metal. Still, it did a couple things I did not intend when I bought it: it blessed Bill for a time, and protected Bill during the accident. Thank you God. Thank you God, so much.
Everything we have, will waste away. Our homes, vehicles, family, even our Bills, even our boyfriends, girlfriends, and spouses, even our own bodies. We will lose them all someday. But what we have with God is eternal.
Matthew 6:19-21 says, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in and steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
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