Apparently, in the city of the San Diego, if your car is parked in the same spot for three days—even in a residential neighborhood—it can get towed.
There I was, with a guy who couldn’t speak a lick of English in the passenger seat of my new-to-me car, and the car that I was going to sell him was missing.
So to this man, fresh from Italy, who had responded to my ad on Craigslist, I had to explain with made-up-on-the-spot sign language that I would try to find the car that I was trying to sell to him, I would pick him up again tomorrow, and we could try this transaction once again.
$900 for a used car might not seem like a lot of cash… unless you’re a part-time youth pastor at a tiny little church like I was at the time. But what seems even less than $900 for a used car, is $900 minus the $350 it costs to get that car out of the impound–$350 that I didn’t have to get that car out of the impound to sell to that guy for $900 minus the $350 I didn’t have!
This all took place on a Saturday. The reason I remember it was a Saturday was because the next day was Sunday, and I had to go to church with a smile on my face that was hiding the stress and anxiety within me.
Megan and I will never forget what happened at that service. It wasn’t any special day—my birthday, pastor appreciation day, or anything—but at the end of that “ordinary” Sunday service the senior pastor invited someone from the congregation to come forward and present Megan and me with a little money tree with leaves made from neatly tied cash that had been collected over the course of the previous couple weeks from members of this tiny little congregation.
And would you know how much money was given to us on that “ordinary” Sunday morning on that little money tree? Right around $350.
I won’t pretend that it was the exact amount to the penny that I needed to get my car out of the impound, but I remember it being so close that Megan and I were just shocked.
We knew we had just been the recipients of a miracle of God’s provision in our lives.
Did God whisper in someone’s ear that we were going to need money in a couple weeks? I don’t think so.
Did the amount of cash on that tree somehow change supernaturally to match the amount that we needed? I don’t think so.
I can find a thousand ways to justify and explain-away the coincidence of this experience.
But on that day, in that moment of anxiety and stress, whether it occurred by some supernatural intervention, or simply by the miracle of being surrounded by a family that we call the church, Megan and I experienced the miracle of God’s provision for us.
The truth is, when our natural tendency is to explain away experiences like this as mere coincidences, I think we miss the point. This tendency is based on a definition of “miracle” as something grand and unique that breaks the laws of nature.
I believe that this perspective hinders us from seeing the countless miracles all around us that are simply disguised in elements that we deem rational, scientific, or understandable. Does that make these things any less miraculous? I don’t think so.
God is constantly at work in our world and in our lives. It’s up to us to open our eyes. When we stop and recognize God’s gifts in our lives, we find ourselves looking at the world through a new lens.
So whether we receive a money tree to get our car out of the impound, or we simply find ourselves blessed to breathe another breath, may we be people who never take the miracles of God’s provision for granted.