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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Multiplication Lesson: part A, Scene 2

Making our way through Patty Canyon, belting out every praise song we knew at the top of our lungs, a most agonizing sensation struck us both at the same time. The “chug” couldn’t be denied or shouted over at this point. The large jolt of the car was followed by several smaller chugs before the vehicle came to rest on the road, silently. Pam and I faced one another—eyes bugging out of their sockets, mouths open wide enough to slip a Dunkin Donut through without touching the lips. We were frozen in utter shock. It just couldn’t be that we were out of gas! We had a lot of faith to believe that God would multiply what we had put into the car. Okay, well, God had more than one way to produce a miracle, more than one way to multiply something, didn’t He? I mean, He’s God, after all. Finally, I shook myself out of the stupor.

“Pam, let’s pray for the Lord to multiply what gas is in the tank right now.”

“Okay, you pray and I’ll agree with you.”

And pray I did! Softly at first, and then the volume increased. The Pronounced “Amen” was like the final note of a major symphony where the tympani roll and then a crash of cymbals join the last boom of the instruments. I felt spent, so earnest was my petitioning.

“Okay, Sojourner, try the ignition again. Let’s hear that engine hum.” How I longed to hear that engine hum!

With as much faith as a second-year Christian could muster, I twisted the key in the ignition. No turning over of the engine, followed by that lovely hum.

“Okay, Pam, let’s get out of the car and lay our hands on the engine. We can pray over the engine since we can’t really get to the gas tank on this rugged gravel road. Maybe God will make the engine work without gas; that’d be a miracle, wouldn’t it?” Pam responded and both of us left the car.

“Maybe we could just lay our hands on the hood, Sojourner. I mean, the engine is all greasy and everything. Our hands’d be a mess if we actually touched the engine. Can’t we just touch the hood?”

“I suppose we could. The engine is right under the hood. How about you pray this time. Just go ahead and say whatever comes to your mind.” I can’t say with any certainty, but her prayer went something along these lines.

“Oh, Lord, help us, please! We want to go to the meeting this evening and we need gas to get there. We don’t have any way to get gas out here unless You give it to us. The conference speaker said You would multiply something if we had need and we do have need of some gasoline, Lord. But, if you want to make the engine work without it, that’s good, too. Please, help us!” It was a bit longer and, probably, a bit more flowery since Pam had known God longer than I had, but that was the gist of it.

Back in the car we got and I tried the key again. The result was the same. No nice hum of a working engine.

Okay, well, we were not ready to give up in despair yet. Back outside the vehicle, we began a victory march, praising God and rebuking the devil… loudly. All around the car we marched—first one way and then the other. It was a disserted canyon road so no real chance of being taken for nut cases out there. After making seven trips around the car, we slid back into our seats and tried the key again. We had called what was not (a victory) as though it were… in faith and we really, really meant it. Why oh why was that engine staying so quiet and stubbornly still? Had we forgotten some step? It wasn’t the vigor or earnestness of the two petitioning Him for the miracle that was the problem; we couldn’t have been any more vigorous or sincere. It didn’t matter, though. We were out of gas and that was that.

“Well, Pam. There must be a part B to that lesson. We’ve done all we have been taught and it isn’t working as it should. One thing I do know is that God knows how very much we want to be at the meeting this evening. He’ll help us get there somehow.”

“It’s too far to walk.” Pam was slumped down in her seat and I didn’t blame her. I was feeling pretty low myself.

Then, I glimpsed a mixed blessing ahead on the road and coming towards us. Behind that cloud of dust was a friend’s boyfriend’s car, motoring right along. Shelley was in the passenger’s seat. I was humiliated and only hoped Pam would not tell them how we happened to run out of gas right there on the canyon road. Everyone knows better than to come out there without enough gasoline in the tank. I had been trying to witness to Shelley about God so I didn’t want her to use this as an example of how God doesn’t work the way I had been telling her. When they were alongside us, both stepped out of the vehicle.

“Hey, guys! Out of gas or engine trouble?” Shelley’s boyfriend sounded like he was willing to help two damsels in distress.

“Out of gas.” I simply defined the trouble, giving no details.

“That’s good because I can help. If you had engine trouble, well, you’d be on your own. In fact, I always carry an extra gallon in the trunk when I plan to drive out here. You just never know when someone might need a hand.” Shelley was beaming and I would have, too, had my boyfriend come to her rescue like that.

Pam just couldn’t wait to explain the details as Shelley waited for her beau to put the gasoline in the tank. Unfortunately, I had flooded the engine in my repeated attempts to start it. Fortunately, Shelley’s boyfriend knew how to handle that and the engine was soon humming that lovely sound that means we can drive the rest of the way out of the canyon. Pam had spilled out every detail, causing Shelley to shake her head as she got back in the car next to our hero for the day.

“Okay, Pam, let’s not tell anyone about this little mistake in trying out the multiplication lesson. We’ll just go to the meeting like we’d been in town all day, okay?” I’d have to be under the ground to get any lower.

“Okay, I’ll keep quiet about this experiment. After the meeting, we can try again. We’ll use the pastor’s garden hose and fill the tank with water. That way the Lord can turn the water into gasoline. What do you think about that? I have enough faith to believe for that miracle, do you?” I thought it must be a joke but the eager look on Pam’s face let me know she was really seriously willing to try that water-into-gas thing.

“In my husband’s car? You’ve got to be kidding! If this car is not in mint condition when he returns from his summer military duty, it won’t be a pretty picture. No way am I going to chance God not being willing to turn water into gasoline. We are going to set this whole thing on the shelf. I’m gonna wait to hear what we missed in our understanding of the multiplication lesson before I go off half-cocked trying some other kind of miracle provision.” Pam was disappointed, but since she didn’t have a car, the proposed experiment was forgotten.

I had been so focused on God multiplying the little bit of gas we’d put in the car that I completely missed His prepared miracle. So little traffic used that canyon road… mostly university kids taking a date for a drive in the evenings…that having a car come along in the afternoon was unusual. Then, to have a driver whose passenger was well-known to us? Plus, having a driver who actually carried gasoline in his own car with the intention of helping someone out? Well, put all that together with the perfect timing of having our paths cross when we were out of gas, not when we were motoring along nicely, and one can see how God knew exactly what was going to happen to us. He had made provision for us to learn the lesson and to make the evening meeting without a problem. We may have missed something in the Multiplication Lesson, but one thing was certain…God loved us and cared for our every need in His own way. How terrific is that?

****Multiplication Lesson: Part B… Next post

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