In November of 2018, I felt stretched to pray for things that feel vastly out of reach. I specifically felt prompted by the Lord to pray for a new car. Now, if you saw the car I was driving, you would instantly understand why this could become the first go-to prayer.
I had the same beat up two door 1999 silver Honda Civic hatchback for 10 years. That’s right…ten years! Though that car was a little tight and made getting my 5’8 frame in and out of that vehicle a little difficult, I was extremely thankful for that car. Bullet, as my best friend had so lovingly named it, had minimal issues and enabled me to financially get by on ministry jobs for a decade. It was in many ways a little miracle mobile. But I was feeling inspired to ask the Lord for a newer miracle mobile that had things like automatic locks and four doors. You know, crazy things like that.
Sure enough, only a few months into praying for a new car, and I got a phone call. “Jen, I was able to buy a new car and I’m wondering if you’d like my old one…for free?”. The phone call came as quite a shock initially, but after a few moments of speechlessness I looked up to the sky and mouthed a “thank you” to the Lord.
You would think I would have responded to the offer with an exuberant, “Yes! I’ll take it!” while jumping with glee; but I didn’t. My response went something like, “Thank you so much for thinking of me! Can I think about it?”. After specifically praying for a new car for months, the answer should have been an obvious yes. However, I had become comfortable with my old car. It had been so dependable, and I knew everything about it. In fact, Bullet kind of felt like it was a part of me. It was with me in every move and transition of my adult life. Taking the new car meant opening myself up to some unknowns and potential inconsistency along with requiring a willingness to pay more for gas and insurance. Though this new car was “free”, there was a cost. Though it was “free”, it was still risky.
Perhaps it will ease your mind to know that I took the 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer two weeks later and got rid of my Honda just before the engine went out. Obviously, the Lord was looking out for me and knew a faulty engine and a mountain of other issues were coming.
But here is what I learned from this experience: the new thing I want in my life and God's promises require something new of me.
God's promises always require us to leave something behind.
It was surprisingly difficult for the Israelites following Moses out of a dark and depressive Egypt to trade up for the shimmering beauty of the Promised Land. Why? Because they were too comfortable with the old way of life. Slavery and oppression were all they knew. War? Fighting? Conquering? Freedom? This couldn't have been more different from their life in Egypt. They weren't willing to leave the old behind and they weren't willing to pay the cost.
Just like my new car, going after God’s promises pays off in the long run, but it costs us more in the day to day.
I often look forward to the future, the promises God has for me, and the opportunities the Lord has in store for me with such hope and fervor. However, I so quickly lose my steam to chase after those dreams all because I see the truth that it will take work and sacrifice to get there. I want it to come easy. I don’t want to pay the higher insurance. Not to mention, I don’t want to live by faith. I like my sight and being able to know everything that will happen.
But I won’t get to the promise without a willingness to let that promise cost me something. I won't get to the "hope" and "future" mentioned in Jeremiah 29 without being willing to let leave the past behind. Thankfully, my Mitsubishi is a daily reminder to keep letting go, keep trusting, and keep letting the promises cost me something.
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time
we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
Jen is a pastor, worship leader, writer, and songwriter living in Napa, California.