Sunday, January 6, 2019 -
I found out late yesterday afternoon that Kathie, William, and Josiah are coming to see me today, leaving yesterday evening and spending the night – so they’d be here this morning! I was thrilled and was on “cloud nine” the rest of the evening and morning. I awoke at 7 am today to have time with the Lord, before either the visit or my job in the dining room, whichever came first. Kathie had emailed me that they’d be here between 9 am and 9:30. I found out I was still required to report to the dining room even though I was having a visit unless you are called out for the visit first. The visit always trumps work.
Today I was assigned to wipe off the tables after the meal. I kept watching the clock, and before I knew it, it was 11 am and still no call for the visit. I got ready to wipe off the tables as soon as everyone was cleared out, and they came looking for me for the visit. I had been so worried they’d turned Kathie away again like last Monday. It turns out they have to get here exactly at 9:30, at the time they start “count,” or they get told to come back after 10:30. But it was a terrific visit, and I was so happy for it. We are allowed to kiss and hug at the beginning of the visit and the end, and hold hands during a visit, sitting across from each other in chairs. They stayed till the end of visiting hours – 3 pm.
During the visit, I had told Kathie how I was telling my cellmate and another inmate how when she and I bought our first car shortly after we were married, we’d made a very frightening discovery about the car. Before I go into detail here, Kathie has asked me if I’d written up the details in my journal. I said, “You know, I hadn’t really thought about that.” She reminded me of the story of how we got the car, and what the inmate told me about what could have happened to us is truly miraculous. So here it goes:
This is miracle #41 and #42 on the list of miracles the Lord has reminded me of since the day I walked into this prison a month and a day ago – real miracles that God has done for me and my family. I’ve already shared several in previous days.
When we moved to Niagara Falls, New York from California shortly after we married, we soon discovered the heating system in our car was inadequate for the Western New York winters. It was a 1976 Audi LS I’d acquired before we were married while living in Tennessee. If the outside temperature dropped below 40 degree, there simply was no heat in the vehicle due to a design flaw. Many Volkswagen products from the 1970s had the same design fault and they could do nothing to rectify it.
So I built a platform for the back seat with a Coleman camping heater attached to it. It heated the car pretty nicely but caused the inside window to ice over, so Kathie had to constantly be scraping the ice off the interior windshield in order for me to see where I was going. The Christian ministry I worked for had an office both in New York and Ontario, and so I went across the border every day at least twice. Every time, we were hassled by the border agents for the unsafeness of our heating system. And they were correct; it smelled horrible and used an open flame.
Then, one Saturday as we were on the way to Buffalo taking local roads rather than the interstate, we drove by a Chevrolet dealer that was having a used car auction. So we stopped. It was a God-thing for certain! The first car auctioned was a nearly brand-new Citation hatchback with only 9,000 miles that had been repossessed. I began bidding. We had no money to speak of, but I figured if we got a good deal, we could borrow it from somewhere. The price quickly got up to around $3,000, which if I recall was close to the maximum we’d set for ourselves, and the auctioneer stopped and said, “Stop, I want this young couple to have this car.” I don’t remember the book value of the vehicle, but I’m certain it was at least three times that amount and much more than that new. It was truly a miraculous provision from God.
After getting home that night, Kathie called her mom and asked if we could borrow that amount for a few months, and we’d pay her back with interest, believing God would provide for the vehicle. And God did, by supplying some moonlighting work that supplied just the right amount of money at just the right time. Not long after that, we were in Alabama in that vehicle around Christmas time, and Kathie’s Aunt Jean was putting something for us in the back of the car. She asked, “What’s this tire doing back here where it doesn’t belong?” “There’s nowhere else to put it,” Kathie said. She retorted, “Yes there is, it goes right under here,” and tried to lift the carpet, but it wouldn’t budge. We all thought that was odd. When we’d gotten back home after the 16-hour drive, it was late at night, and we were exhausted. So we parked the car in the garage which belonged to our apartment, leaving everything in it till morning.
Well. When I got up the next morning to go get the things out of the car, the back window had been smashed out, but nothing had been taken – not even our luggage. I called the police and they came. We discovered the carpet, which a few days before wouldn’t have come up, had been torn up. There was actually a spare gas tank where the spare tire was supposed to go. The police concluded the car had been used for hauling illegal drugs and that some had been left in the car when it was repossessed. And I’d been crossing the border at least twice a day in that vehicle! We had just had the car long enough for the title to be transferred to us, which allowed the drug dealer to know where to find it!
When I told this story to this former big-time drug dealer, he said that it wouldn’t have been just a small amount of drugs, but a major amount worth probably hundreds of thousands of dollars or more. He said if we’d been caught, it would have meant a lifetime in prison and no defense could have helped! Isn’t God wonderful that He not only gave us an almost new car but protected us on the highway and going across an international border sometimes four times a day, unknowingly loaded with illegal drugs? Oh, and one more added benefit – we hooked up that gas tank, and could drive from Niagara Falls to Gadsden, Alabama on one tank of gas!
God has always blessed Kathie and me with vehicles. For our personal automobiles, we’ve always, because God’s always blessed us in the ways we’ve gotten them, like you’ve just read, kept a vehicle for ten years and then given it away to someone who really needs a vehicle. God has always given us a great replacement every time.
However, two years ago we decided to keep our vehicles longer because, due to the enormous legal bills, we didn’t feel we could afford to replace them. So until God shows us otherwise, or blesses in some unforeseen way, we’ll keep driving our same vehicles, the oldest being our 1986 pickup, and the newest is 12 years old.
God has performed so many miracles in our lives for just a time as this. So Kathie and I can look back on our lives and remember what He has miraculously done. So even today, we can expect a miracle. I believed that a miracle would happen before I was required to report to prison, but I haven’t given up. God is in control. He is sovereign. Look how many times God reminded Israel how He parted the sea and let them pass through, and then destroyed all their enemies when it looked as all hope was lost. Well, Kathie and I are still clinging to His promise. I know He has allowed me to come here for a purpose, but I also know He will deliver me at the time He deems best. He is still a miracle-working God – all I need to do is look back on my own life!