The telephone rang. A casual friend of only a few occasions of conversation was on the line in an unexpected call. “This may sound strange,” my friend began, “but, I have this overwhelming feeling that I am supposed to give you my car.” I was surprised, of course, but did not know how to properly respond. I could only manage a pathetic, “That’s nice.” I was in need of a vehicle. My mind was immediately preoccupied with thoughts of my own circumstances. The engine in my vehicle had ‘blown up’ as some would say. It had not literally blown up as in an explosion, but it had suffered major internal damage and would no longer run. Hence, I was definitely in need of a vehicle.
My mind was now on the circumstances with my older vehicle. Quickly thoughts were running through my mind, “I do not need someone else’s rejected problems when I have enough of my own. I don’t need someone’s old ‘fishing’ vehicle to compound my problems. How would this guy know I need anything? I haven’t seen or had any conversation with him in months. He lives hundreds of miles away. No one I know could have told him my engine is gone in my car.”
Suddenly in the midst of one of my runaway thoughts I heard the voice on the telephone calling me back to a two way conversation. “Don, are you still there?” “Yes, I’m here I’m sorry I just have a lot on my mind. Please, forgive me.” “No problem,” came my friends reply and then it seemed as if he had read my mind as he said emphatically, “You don’t understand. I only have one car!” Now he had my attention for I knew he usually drove nice vehicles.
Now that James had my full attention he went on to explain how he had been in a time of prayer and suddenly felt an overwhelming need to give me his vehicle. The feeling was so moving to him that he could not shake it and later mentioned it to his wife. She advised him to pray further seeing that they had no other means of transportation. James then went on to recount to me a conversation he had carried on with God in prayer over a year earlier concerning me. That prayer had taken place upon his hearing that I had felt a missionary calling and had resigned a full-time salaried position as a pastor of a thriving church in eastern Georgia (USA) to relocate to the Atlanta, GA suburbs. I had done so to start a new church as a part of a mission board’s program with only a promise of six months of monetary support.
In his prayer after hearing of my decision to resign and relocate, James told me how he had expressed to God that he did not know if he could ever make such a life changing move himself. He told of how he had promised God that as he continued to be blessed in the security that he enjoyed, he would be sensitive to help if I was ever in great need. I knew nothing of this private conversation between a fellow minister and his Heavenly Father. Neither had I told anyone who knew the both of us who were now hundreds of miles apart of my dilemma of having to commute to a secular job with no transportation in order to underwrite my efforts as a Christian missionary.
As James returned to prayer according to his wife’s urging, he ‘made a deal’ with God. He would give his car that he had only recently purchased as he was feeling compelled to do; but, he would need divine help in obtaining another vehicle with his limited financial resources. He and his wife only had one vehicle and they could not do without transportation. Continuing to feel ‘his feeling’ and repeating this in prayer at various times for a couple of weeks, James, himself, was then surprised with a phone call from his son whom he had not seen or talked with for over a month. His son went on to express how he and his brother, both adults, had begun to feel a need to do something nice for their Dad remembering a few hard times he had seen them through. They had decided that their Dad needed a vehicle with 4-wheel drive seeing that James and his wife had relocated to another church pastorate in the mountainous region of northern Georgia.
Upon hearing that the brothers were planning to purchase for him the vehicle of his choice as an upcoming Father’s Day gift, James knew his plea for divine assistance was heard and granted. He subsequently called me and made arrangements to deliver to me and my family his recently purchased luxury vehicle with soft leather seats and all the bells and whistles of the late 1980’s era. We had only had limited conversations before his ‘helping hand’ and only a few afterwards. The only stipulation James made concerning ‘his gift of obedience and help’ was that no one except God, my family and his know who had given the vehicle as he did not want the accolades of people in regards to something he was doing in obedience unto God.
What a surprising helping hand I received, used and enjoyed with no strings attached. James and I remain friends but only of a casual nature to this day. That is his choice so that I would never feel indebted to him in any way. Through the years I’ve tried to be as sensitive as James and be ‘a surprise helping hand’ when ‘the feeling’ hits me.
-Donald R. Sansbury, 2013