by Debra K. Matthews.
Winter had arrived and I needed studded tires for my van. As hard as I tried, though, I just didn't have any extra money to put away for them.
The Lord had provided so many things in my life, often just in the nick of time, that I was surprised he wasn't providing in this case. "Lord," I complained one day, "I don't understand what's wrong. You know I can't drive on the slick roads. I can walk to and from work, but it will be late at night when I get off, and not safe walking that far. I can't seem to do anything by myself to get enough extra money."
I worked in a retail toy store that sold at discount prices, and they naturally couldn't pay high wages. I was barely getting by. I prayed and 'complained' for a few minutes before the Lord could get me to listen. Then I heard the still small voice.
"I'm always faithful to do my part, when my people are faithful to do their part," he said, and a "picture" of a situation at work flashed in my mind.
Ouch! It was like when a father gives that certain look to a child who's acting up -- the child knows just exactly what that look means. I knew instantly what the Lord was trying to tell me and where I had failed.
"I'm sorry, Lord. I haven't been a very good example, have I?!"
I went to work that Saturday, and trusted the Lord to bring a certain person to me while I was counting money from the previous day's sales. Throughout the day, managers and assistant managers came into the locked safe room where I was working, with each hour's money drop. Finally, in the early afternoon, the particular assistant the Lord was dealing with me about came on duty and her turn came to make the drop.
"I owe you an apology," I said to her after she'd locked the safe.
"What do you mean?" she asked me, surprised.
"Well, I got in trouble last night with the big boss," I said, smiling and pointing upward.
She laughed. She was an admitted agnostic, and we'd had plenty of conversations about the Lord over the past few months. I'd told her about him being so real in my life, and my very dearest friend, and what the Bible says about man outside of God. She'd said she was searching, but as an intellectual, she had a real hard time accepting that there was this big, unseen God out there somewhere.
"I was sort of complaining about a certain need in my life not being met. I didn't hear an 'audible' voice with my physical ears, but just as clear as could be, the Lord spoke to my heart and said, 'I'm always faithful to do my part, when my people are faithful to do their part.'
"At the same time, I had a picture come to my mind of the way I've been here at work lately."
I felt a little sheepish, and probably looked it as I said, "I've been telling you all about the good things God has done in my life, and how he's been such a good provider and everything. But lately, I've been sort of caught up in the general conversations around here about the 'discount wages' and stuff like that. I've done a lot of 'grumbling' myself, when I know better. God said he would take care of me, and he always has.
"Anyway, I haven't been a very good example of a Christian, and I apologize," I finished.
She didn't know what to think about that. I got the impression that her past experience with Christians seemed like they were know-it-alls. To have one apologizing to her seemed surprising. We talked some more and then she headed back out to the sales floor.
After work that night, I got a call from my mom. She asked me, "Have you bought studded tires for the van yet?" she asked. She knew I always put studs on my vehicles, and this was my first winter with the van, a vehicle much larger than I'd owned before.
"Not yet," I answered. "Why do you ask?"
"Well, one of the gals gave me a pair of studded tires," she said. "They're too big for our cars, so I thought about the van."
I don't remember why she said they had an extra set of tires, but they were like new, and the exact size I needed for the van. The Lord had just been waiting for me to be obedient in a situation where I hadn't, and then he provided miraculously again! And besides that, it gave me something else neat to tell the assistant manager about next time!