Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Peace Like a River



I have fond memories of being a kid in church. Does anyone else remember the song,
"I've got peace like a river,
I've got peace like a river,
I've got peace like a river,
....in my soul"
and how fun it was to belt it out at the top of our lungs at Kids Church or Kids Camp?

I do.

Although I vaguely understood the metaphor (didn't give much thought to it honestly...the song was so darn fun!), I haven't really pondered the greater depth of it until later in my adult years. I'm pretty sure that's usually the case. We get older. We go a little deeper. We gain a bit more understanding. (At least that's the hope.)

Hmm..."peace like a river."

When I think of rivers, I think of a continuous stream of water that comes out of a massive source that is simultaneously in a constant state of being filled and constantly filling its tributaries.

Dictionary.com defines River as:
1. a natural stream of water of fairly large size flowing in a definite course or channel or series of diverging and converging channels. 
2. any abundant stream or copious flow; outpouring: rivers of tears; rivers of words. 
So, by definition, a river is always moving...even when it looks like it's not. To be a river is to be in constant motion. To do otherwise would make it a trough or channel or something else.

I don't know about you, but the idea of peace being something that is constantly flowing out of The Source (God) and down to and through me puts my mind and heart at ease.

There will never be a shortage of peace when God is my source. Even if I cannot see that movement, it doesn't mean it isn't there. It may not be as swiftly-moving as I'd like, but it's there for me to jump into and saturate myself in.

I was reminded of this today in another God-wink sort of way.

As I've blogged about recently, we are taking Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace class. Through it, we have been challenged to spend only what we have, and to allocate every last penny of our income and follow that plan. When the money is out. It's out. No credit cards. No payday loans. No nothing.

It's been a good exercise in discipline, trust and patience. When you have nowhere else and no one else to bail you out, you are forced to look to God to meet the need -- whether it be for cosmetics, toilet paper, or food.

Or tires.

I won't bore you with the details, but counting the original factory tires that came with our 2005 Toyota Sienna, we have had three sets of new tires on the vehicle. This is obviously not normal usage. We had to replace the factory tires after two years of use. However, two years later, we were told the tires were already bad and no longer under warranty. We took it into the dealership to see what could be causing the abnormal wear and tear (only on the front two tires) and thought we had the issue resolved.  So, we put on an additional set of new tires. Fast-forward to 15 month later and my husband taking it in for the tires to be rotated.

Once again, abnormal wear and tear. Warranty negated. Front tires should be replaced.

I went a little crazy. We had just spent $600 (on credit) to have the entire front axle and various boots (blah, blah, blah) replaced. Why on earth were we still having this problem? We couldn't afford new tires AGAIN! Why should we have to shell out more money? Whose fault could this be?

On and on it went in my brain and out of my mouth...my poor husband. After talking me down, he was able to get some info from the mechanic that the front axle fix would take care of future front tire issues. However, there was still the issue of the two bad front tires and the tire company's refusal to replace or even rotate them.

Since we have made a commitment not to spend money we don't have, it became apparent that we could not going to replace those tires immediately. However, we had an out of town trip scheduled for the following day. In the old days, we would have pulled out the credit card and ponied up for two new tires for "safety's sake" and that would have been that.

But both of us didn't feel comfortable doing that. With the assurance that the tires would last us another few thousand miles, we decided that the replacement could wait until my husband got paid at the end of the month and we would figure out then how to allocate the money for the tires.

Once we decided that, we both felt an immediate peace that it would be okay. Things would work out.

We didn't think about it much again.

When I shared with, Gina, my gym buddy/running partner/friend last Friday about "the latest" with our tires and finances, she looked at me and said, "Heather...you do know what my dad does for a living?" When I said I didn't. She smiled and said, "he sells tires!"

I thought that was pretty amazing and even more so when she told me about how he deals with new and used tires and that often he puts gently used tires on their families vehicles as a way to save money. I tucked that info away and made a mental note to call him for some info.  After all, our two back tires were only 15 months old and were in "excellent condition," according to the tire shop that wouldn't warranty the front ones.

So, I called today.

I explained the situation to Gina's father (although she had already told him pretty much the deal) and I asked how much it would be for two used tires and gave him all the specs. I anticipated several hundred dollars and was astounded when he said,

"Forty dollars out the door."

"Excuse me," I stammered. "I don't think I heard you right. Forty dollars....really?"

"Really," he assured me.

"But that doesn't seem like enough," I mumbled weakly.

"Well, you can pay more," he joked.

I laughed and talked to him about bringing in the vehicle in a few weeks after my husband gets paid (or unless we get some extra income to allocate to car repair...remember, "financial peace university!").

I hung up.

I was dumbfounded.

I was sublimely joyful.

I fired off an email to my husband and parents -- telling them about the goodness of God, even the "little things" of our lives. I texted Gina and told her what a sweetheart of a dad she has and thanked her.

I folded up that little God wink in a tiny box and put it in my heart and held it close.

To that box, I later added two "rewards cards" that we got in the mail today -- promotional pre-paid VISA cards that we qualified or signed up to get awhile ago, but came today and together. $15 of "free money" to add to our monthly budget.

That may seem like an insignificant amount to you, but it's everything to me. That's $15 less of a burden on our family this month. $15 less dollars that we have to hunt, search and allocate from other important areas.

I think this is a perfect demonstration of how God provides for us. When we need a BIG miracle, He delivers (for us...it's not having to buy two brand new tires). When we need just a little bit to see us through, He delivers ($15 will fund the depleted "eating out" envelope and buy the family a Papa Murphy's pizza).

No matter if it's a BIG river, or a small one, it's still His river of provision.

I may not see it moving.

In fact, I may not even see it all.

But, it's there.

I just need to step into it.

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