Prayer and a Beaten Up Camaro

Sometime about a week or so ago I was doing some Christmas shopping for my kids. My 15 year-old son loves cars and especially Hot Wheels and so I thought I’d get him some (don’t worry, he doesn’t read my blog and so he won’t know). As I was looking through the different cars, I came across a 1969 Camaro. It was green. It was a convertible. It was beautiful. I too love cars. I’m a big muscle car fan. But this particular car brought back so many memories, I had to get it. In fact, I bought it and brought it to my home office and opened it up immediately. Not to play with it per se but to look at it. The detail. The lines of the car. Made in Malaysia. The car is on my desk right now as I write this. Why is it so important to me? Well, it reminds me how God answers prayer. 

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This tale goes way back when. 

It was in the early 1990’s. My parents had split up and my mom, brother, sister, and I moved down from Northern California to Southern California. A lot of heart ache. A lot of pain. A lot of not knowing. I was in 7th grade and hurting. So was my sister and my brother. So was my mom. My mom was doing her best to work and provide. We had this old 1984 Toyota Tercel hatchback that we had brought down with us. One day on the California freeway, the oil light came on, my mom brought it in and was told it was fine. Shortly thereafter a hole was burned into the engine and the little car that could died. So did our means of income. My mom couldn’t get to her job.

We needed something. 

Anything. 

We were kinda religious, kinda trusting in God, kinda not sure. I know I struggled with the whole thing. But we decided to pray anyway. And prayed we did. We prayed for a car. I didn’t know all the ins and outs of prayer. I just knew we needed a car for my mom. 

My uncle found an old beaten up sky blue 1970 Camaro for $100. The thing was a mess. But it ran. It didn’t run well but it ran. If you hit over 60 it’d start to shake. We called it the milkshake machine. But I’ll never forget the license plate number: 777 NOC. I’m not superstitious. I’m not into numerology. My uncle pointed out to me that as far as he knew, 777 stood for heaven. And the NOC—knocking on heaven’s door. 

Prayer.

It may not have seemed like much at the time, but this was an answer to our prayers. That milkshake machine, the beaten up Camaro got us from Point A to Point B faithfully. It shook, but it was ours. It shook, but it worked. It was what we needed when we needed it.

Fast forward years later with theological training, reading the Bible, and studying on prayer. The milkshake machine Camaro still stays in my mind of God’s provision.

In what is called The Lord’s Prayer, we pray “give us today our daily bread.” When I think of that one line, I think of the Camaro. I think of God’s provision when things were tough. I think of His provision now in my life. Each day I am to rely on Him. Each day I am to trust in Him. Being into Reformed theology, my mind goes to the Heidelberg Catechism, something written centuries ago but speaks about that Camaro. 

The Catechism is set up with questions and answers. And separated by different Sundays to be taught. Lord’s Day (Sunday) 50 asks: “What does the fourth request mean?” What does it mean when we pray “Give us today our daily bread”?

The answer?

Give us today our daily bread means, do take care of all our physical needs so that we come to know that you are the only source of everything good, and that neither our work and worry nor your gifts can do us any good without your blessing.”

So what does that mean? And what does it have to do with a beaten up Camaro?

It’s daily provision. 

God isn’t some ethereal thing out there. He is real. He acts. He moves. He provides. He also blesses. He blesses us even if our theology and understanding aren’t perfect. Back then I didn’t understand prayer. I didn’t understand God. I didn’t understand how things worked. I just thought I’d give prayer a chance. And God acted and gave us what we needed for the time we needed it. Each day I don’t think we knew if that Camaro would start or not. Each day we didn’t know if it would shake to pieces or not on the freeway. But it worked. It was what we needed. God provided. God blessed us. 

Prayer is a weird thing. There’s no such thing as unanswered prayer. God answers prayer with yes, not, and wait. This time it was a yes. I’ve seen in my life there have been many “no’s” and a lot of “wait’s.” But God answers. He is sure to provide what we need when we need it and He blesses it. 

This Christmas season is a weird one with COVID. Heck, this whole year of 2020 has been weird because of COVID. And God still answers prayers. God still acts. And I have seen God provide this year. This Christmas season trust in God. Trust in His goodness. Trust in His care. And trust in Him daily for what you need when you need it. Even if it is a beaten up Camaro. 

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