The Lord Giveth and Taketh Away

Monday did not turn out the way we had planned.  Jason had the day off, so we thought it would be the perfect day to take the dogs on a nice, long hike.  The weather was beautiful.  The fall colors were beckoning.  Yes, a hike sounded wonderful, and we knew just the right location.  Being a Monday, it shouldn't be crowded at all, and the trail offered a long, not-too-strenuous hike.  Eager to be on our way, we got up, ate some breakfast, packed the bags and headed out to our destination.

Once we hit the main drive to the trail, we knew we had picked the wrong day to do that particular hike.  Dozens of hunters with pickup trucks and hunting dogs crowded the drive.  The trail we were headed to was closed to hunters, but the way I see it, stray bullets don't know that.  With all these hunters in the vicinity, I was growing very anxious about being out on the trail. . . especially with our dogs.  Little did I know that the crowded trail was really a blessing in disguise.

We continued our way up the winding, bumpy road.  All of a sudden, everything in the car started blinking on and off.  The radio went on and off.  The dials and lights on the dash went crazy.  Something was wrong.  Then we smelled it--the acrid stench of an electrical fire.  As soon as we found a place wide enough to pull over, we did.  The car shut itself off, and everything locked up.  Jason popped the hood and ran to the front of the vehicle.  The diagnosis was not good.  Somehow, in the midst of the bumping and jostling, the metal band that runs across the top of the battery had completely come loose on one end and was tapping against one of the posts of the battery.  The metal-on-metal contact created a complete circuit for the electric current.  In short, it fried the battery.

I sat in the vehicle with the dogs as Jason jogged back down the mountain road, hoping that the many hunters were still on the main road and that the battery would at least take a charge.  (Let me remind you that if all those hunters hadn't been on the road that day, I don't know how far Jason would have had to walk to find help.) As I strove to calm the dogs who were uncertain why they couldn't get out and play, I prayed.  "Lord, why did this have to happen?  We just wanted to have a nice day.  Is it too much to ask for one week to pass us by without something breaking?  We can't afford to buy a new battery right now."

Suddenly, I stopped and realized that the last statement was not true.  Last week, out of the blue, God had blessed us with several different financial blessings.  Jason received a raise and was given two very generous tips for his work.  I had sold a handful of books.  We even received a check in the mail for a survey we had completed.  Even though the amounts weren't elaborate, we were awed by the different sources of unexpected income.

As I sat waiting in the broken-down vehicle, this phrase came to my mind:  the Lord giveth and taketh away; blessed be the name of the Lord.  Sure, I was frustrated, but I quickly realized I had two ways of looking at the situation:  (1) I could be upset that every time we get ahead a little financially, an unexpected expense occurs; or (2) I could be thankful that God provides the means to get ahead a little financially so that when the unexpected expenses occur, we have the funds to take care of them.  With God's help, I chose the latter option on Monday. 

We were able to jumpstart the vehicle and drive it to an auto parts store.  When the car wouldn't start back up, we knew the battery was finished, so we purchased a new one and had it installed right there in the parking lot of the auto parts store.  In an attempt to salvage the day, we headed toward an alternate hike and enjoyed the remainder of the day without further incident (unless you count sore muscles and a minor slip on some fallen leaves).

No, it was not the day I had envisioned, but the ordeal served as a good reminder to me that God is watching out for us.  He provided the money for the new battery before we even knew we needed one.  That's just like God.  As always, He's taking care of us and meeting our needs in ways we never dreamed of.  I think the songwriter said it best when she wrote, "Even in the valley, God is good."