The last time I owned a car, it looked a little something like this:
Well, not exactly like that. That's what it looked like after the Junior High ministry team at my old church got ahold of it. What's underneath all those lovely layers of people and spray paint is a brown, 1979 Volvo 244-DL named Patrice. She was a good car, somewhat of a tank, really. A four speed, and she was the only car I owned from age 17 to 26. I drove her up and down the mountain those years I worked as a snowboarding instructor. I almost got her stuck in a snowbank on the way back from Mt. Hood with Kathy. My mom and I drove her from Vancouver, Washington to Santa Cruz, California in 90 degree weather with no air conditioning when I moved down there to teach outdoor science school. I spent two days wiping, scrubbing, vacuuming, and shampooing her after a wet winter and two months of not using my car turned her into a petri dish. Every Friday morning, after leaving my friend Hannah's house, Patrice and I would drive along West Cliff and Seabright and East Cliff instead of taking the freeway, just so we could take in that beautiful coastline.
And all too soon it was time to leave Santa Cruz. Patrice stayed behind so the junior highers could have their fun and raise some money for Snow Camp by breaking her windows and denting her doors. Me? I traveled northward to Portland, to family, to rainy winters and gorgeous green summers, and awesome public transportation.
For three and a half years Tri-Met and I have been good friends. I've ridden busses to Hillsboro in search of the perfect sock yarn. I've taken the MAX to the airport on trips to visit the family I still miss in Santa Cruz. I met my friend and roommate for the last two and a half years getting off the number 9 on our way to church. I've ridden it to Beaverton and Vancouver, and back and forth to work almost everyday for the last three years. I've lugged huge shopping bags full from a morning at Ikea, and more grocery bags than I could ever hope to count. I've started and finished books on the bus. I've knit Christmas gifts, birthday presents, hats and booties and blankets for newborn lovelies, and seven pairs of felted slippers, all while riding the bus. Tri-Met and I, we've had a good run.
I've borrowed cars when I've needed them. Trips to the cabin, a weekend in Seattle, trips to Ikea that wouldn't fit inside a bus. I've carpooled to youth group with other leaders, which is basically a nice way of saying I've bummed a ride from several of my friends every Wednesday for the last two years.
Then Lauren and Max came into town as Max's cross country road trip slowed to a halt upon his meeting, wooing, and proposing to the woman of his dreams. They drove into town in the middle of August. Hot and tired from a long day of driving. They shoved clothes and shoes and books and power cords out of the way as I folded myself into the back of Max's car [which a friend gave him a week before Max was supposed to embark on this faith adventure] and drove to my house, where they camped out for two weeks before a brief trip to Columbus, Ohio and Boulder, Colorado [where they got married on a mountain top, nbd]. When I dropped them off at the airport, Max encouraged me to use the Red Dragon as I needed and reminded me not to roll the driver's side window down because it does not roll back up.
They've been back in Portland since the beginning of September, but Max kept telling me they didn't need two cars just yet. They were too busy looking for a place in Portland to call home, and it was one less thing they had to worry about. I was happy to take care of the Red Dragon, especially after I cleaned seven months of road dust and dirt off all the surfaces that could be reached with a sponge, towel, hose, or vacuum.
On Monday I was in the middle of a Skype sesh with a friend of mine when Lauren, who'd dropped by with Max to pick up some mail and, "get something from the car," said they had something for me. I looked up from my computer, and Max handed me a piece of paper. "Here," he said. I looked down at the paper, and then at Lauren, and then back at Max. The look on my face conveyed my confusion fairly clearly because Max clarified saying, "it's the title for the Red Dragon. I'm giving you my car."
There was a lot of hugging, and a lot of me choking back tears. And even now, after passing the air quality tests, and filling out the paperwork, and holding the brand new Oregon license plates in my hands, I still can't really believe it.
The thing is, this isn't about a car. I mean, it is, but it isn't. Not at all. This is about the fact that the Lord knows what I need before I need it. This is about the truth that the Lord knows what YOU need before you know that you need it.
"I need a husband," I cry, wondering where he is and why he's not here yet.
No, I don't. If I did, he would be here.
"I need an iPhone!" I exclaim as I wonder how I'll possibly accomplish everything I'm trying to do in the few short hours between the end of the workday and the time my head hits the pillow each night.
No, I don't. I want an iPhone, but I can get all those things done with a little help from my friend time management.
The Bible says that the Lord knows what we need before we do. I have a few ideas about why I might need the Red Dragon in the near future, but that is another story for a different day. Today, I will trust that God is able to do immeasurably more than all I could ask or imagine, today I will live in the truth that the enormous gift of this car is not even the tip of the iceberg where God is concerned.