Before you get all into the theology of prayer, let me just tell you - I'm not here to talk about either of those subjects. I'm here to talk about the prayers that you never even prayed. You know what I'm talking about? The things that you need but you never really got around to asking for and, lo and behold! The need is provided before you ever even asked and you almost get goosebumps because God really does care about little old you.
In case you don't know what I'm talking about, I have two stories for you:
Jennifer has been begging for a bike. She learned to ride a friend's bike one evening, and ever since that's all I've been hearing. It isn't that I didn't want to give her a bike. I even did some searching for a second hand one but when none crossed my path, I kind of shoved it to the back of my mind and went my way.
Well, last week I did a quick grocery run one morning. I was trying to hurry and I debated whether I should stop at Goodwill (you already think you know where this is going but it's even better than you are imagining!). Since I had a bag of stuff to donate, I decided to make a quick stop.
Bikes were the furthest thing from my mind that morning; I didn't even look in that area of the store. I did a quick scan of some clothes racks and found a couple articles I decided I couldn't do without, made my purchases and drove around to the back to drop off my donation; next stop, home.
As I hopped out to press the doorbell in the back, my eye caught sight of 3 or 4 bikes propped up beside a dumpster. Bikes! Those things promptly had my full attention. From what I could see, there was a tiny bike, a medium girl's bike and one or two boy-ish looking bikes.
"Are those bikes over there going to be put out for sale soon?" I asked the lady who came to the door and took my bag.
"I think those are some that aren't worth selling," she told me. "Dry rotted and not good anymore, you know." I nodded and explained about my little girl begging for a bike and how I hadn't seen any second hand ones lately. "We do get them," she explained, "But they get snatched up pretty quick." She paused for a moment, then added, "Let me go look at them."
She trotted over to the dumpster, gave the bikes the once over and came back, "They look nice, actually," she told me. "I'll go ask him about them if you want me to."
I wanted her to!
She was back in no time. "He's gonna clean those up and put them out before long," she informed me. "Probably just be 2 or 3 dollars," she added in a conspiratorial tone.
I wondered if I could just take the one I wanted and clean it up myself but she told me that would get them in trouble. She hesitated a minute, then leaned in and said quietly, "I'll just take it in and clean it up real quick and you can come around and get it if you like."
I thanked the lady profusely and hopped back in my van. I drove around the store, re-parked, and hauled Charles back inside to claim my bike. I imagine my eyes looked just about as starry as Jennifer's did when she walked in from school and saw a BIKE parked in the living room; a pink and purple bike, just her size. Isn't God amazing?
Then, there is the story of the treated lumber.
As most of you know, we are in the process of building a house. Anyone who has ever tried such a thing knows what it takes: time and money. Since we don't have much extra of either but far less of the one, Chris spends lots of time hunting down good deals. He is, most definitely, his mother's child when it comes to good deals; if there's one to be had, he will find it!
Chris spends his time these days squeezing in as much work at the house as he can. He's trying to get the outside of the house done before cold weather comes and they get too busy at the tire shop to take time off. This means that some days he gets up early and works at the house til 11 or 12 then finishes the day at the tire shop, and some days he does it the other way around.
On this particular day, he went in to the shop to start the day, then headed off to Lowes later on to pick up a stack of treated lumber for the lovely, large front porch he is working on. He had spent some time before hand checking prices and Lowes had a sale on the lumber he wanted.
Chris often meets up with customers from the tire shop when he's in town and that morning he recognized the man who was walking into Lowes at the same time he was. They exchanged friendly greetings, and the man wondered, "So, what are you doing at Lowes?"
Chris explained what he was building, and that he needed some treated lumber. "Oh? What kind of treated lumber?"
"Well," Chris told him, "I'm looking for 2x8x8s and 2x6x8s."
"I've got a bunch of 2x8x10s out at the house."
Chris pointed out that he really just needed 8 footers. "No, no, you don't understand what I'm saying!" The man shook his head. "Come over here and let's see what those 2x8s cost." They were $7.67 a piece. "I'll sell you all you need of my 2x8x10s for $5 a piece," he offered.
Turns out the guy had gotten some oil and gas money and was using it for a little re-sale business. When Lowes had close out sales or items they wanted to move out of their store, they would call him up. He would buy the stuff for a super reduced price, then re-sell it and give others a good deal. Til it was all said and done Chris was headed home from the man's house with a pile of all the treated lumber he needed for his porch floor at a greatly reduced price.
I ask you, what are the chances of those two men walking into Lowes at the same time on that particular morning? Pretty small! Not only did he get the lumber he needed that day at a great price, it's very likely the man will have other things we will need later on in our building project.
I think, like us parents, God enjoys supplying His children's needs. And I like to think, just maybe, He takes particular joy in surprising us with answers for those prayers we never even prayed.