“I need is a reliable car to get to work,” I prayed. “Something affordable, even on my salary!”
My pastor had said. “When you pray, be SPECIFIC,” So, I added to my car prayer, “And, Lord, could you please make it a WHITE one? Maybe I could handle $50 a month?!”
The answer was more than I could have ever imagined!
Nearly two years of chasing after Nashville metro buses, dodging raindrops, and showing up for work looking like a hurricane victim, had taken its toll. I was thankful to work and study at Belmont College then. But wages in academia are nothing like what I made in the music business, where I’d spent many years singing and traveling. Yes, my lifestyle had changed drastically; wonderfully! However, my new budget laughed at a car payment of any size.
For many years, I’d performed across America and beyond with my own show, and later with Opry star, Whispering Bill Anderson. But, in 1984, finding deep faith in Jesus Christ, my tune had definitely changed.
A musician I’d worked with named Aaron had also quit the road for a time, and had taken a sales position with a local Ford dealership. I asked him to keep an eye out for a used car. “Even a klunker,” I told him. No specifics this time.
Does God Answer Car Prayers?
It was a busy day for me at Belmont when Aaron finally called. “Come right away. I think I’ve found your car, and the owner is here!”
“What is it?” I asked.
“It’s a 1972 Ford Grand Torino.”
“Great!” I said, as if I had a clue what that was. No matter, it was a car!
I left work and ran to catch the #2 Belmont bus to town. Another bus would take me north toward Goodlettsville. It was a long ride, and at that time, the bus only went so far up Gallatin Road. I’d have to walk the last mile to where my “new” car waited.
Aaron was standing outside the big glass dealership windows, as I puffed up the driveway past rows of gleaming new, and unaffordable for me, 1986 models. He grabbed a key and led me to the used car lot.
“THAT’S IT!” I pointed out, excitedly.
“How did you know?” asked Aaron.
“It’s WHITE!” I said, resolutely.
It was love at first sight, even with a conspicuous hump on the massive hood that hid a V8 engine. Climbing behind the wheel, I realized I’d have to sit on maybe a large phone book to see over the hump. Otherwise… PERFECT!
“What kind of payment arrangement can we work out?” I asked the owner. Without hesitation he said, “How about $50 a month?”
An answer to prayer. The humpy, white car was a definite blessing!
Me and “The Blessing”
The Blessing and I were an unlikely match. No matter; I was just thrilled to have wheels again!
One afternoon, however, driving to lunch, the car suddenly went silent and rolled to a stop. Fortunately, just half a block ahead was a large gas station with open bay doors. A heavy-set mechanic was standing up under a raised vehicle. I left The Blessing and walked to the station.
Seeing me coming, the man ambled up to me, wiping grease off his hands; partially on a shop cloth and leaving a little for the side of his pants. Across his pocket was the name GEORGE.
“Okay, so what can I do for you?” he grumped. Something had already gotten on George’s last nerve, and I was one more interruption. I quickly pointed to where my car sat “dead as a door nail,” and was surprised when he dropped everything and followed me down the street.
Trying the key just once, George said, “Dead battery! I’ll tow it to the garage and put it on the charger.”
“OK, how long will that take?” I asked.
“Well, you can’t go anywhere until we recharge your battery, can you!?” he crabbed. It was a slow day for the station, and while we waited the hour it took to recharge The Blessing’s huge battery, George and I had a long talk. My faith in Christ was so new, and George’s mood aside, I was more than eager to share about it.
George’s Side of the Story
At first, George was reluctant to listen, but finally shared about his own “religious” experience.
He had a brother somewhere he hadn’t spoken to in years; a preacher George had decided was just a “big know-it-all.” George was “sick and tired” of hearing about religion, and how he personally needed to “repent” of some things. He had long-since separated himself from “all those religious folks.” His brow remained knit; as I told him what I understood was the difference between religion and a personal relationship with God through His Son Jesus.
“Yeah, I’ve heard all that!” George said, impatiently. Still, he seemed drawn to the conversation and almost sorry when it was time for me and The Blessing to leave.
“How much do I owe you, George?” I asked.
“No charge,” he waved off my question. “By the way,” he added, “Your car has an oil leak, and a few other parts that could use replacing. But, don’t buy the parts from the cheapskate who owns this station,” he continued, “Buy them at AutoZone down the street, and I’ll put them in for nothing!”
“Thanks, George. Nice talking with you!” I waved goodbye and hopped behind the wheel.
A Divine Appointment?
The Blessing had run just fine, until it died that day. Apparently, so I could meet George.
Now, it seemed, every few weeks some part or other needed replacement. Each time, George told me what to pick up at AutoZone. Somehow, the money was there for the parts. And George was true to his word, never allowing me to pay him a penny for his labor.
Each time the car went back to the garage, George would ask about God, even as he argued at each point, until it seemed he had exhausted all his objections.
George always expressed amazement that the car kept running at all, especially after it had begun to rock spastically, when idling at a stoplight. I got some interesting looks from people in cars next to me. Others suggested I replace the car, saying it would embarrass them to be seen in it, shimmying like that.
“You’re too classy to ride around in such a car,” one friend told me. But The Blessing was what I could afford, and I was glad to have it. How could I not be thankful even for a “convulsing, humpy, old gas hog,” as one had called it; that made life easier for me, and gave me the opportunity to talk Jesus with George?
Good old George! By that time, he’d heard all my stories about this and other blessings, since I turned my life over to the Lord.
It had been months now since George told me about the major oil leak, and his latest examination of the car caused him to look at me as if to prepare a patient for the “C” word.
“It doesn’t look good!” George said, shaking his head. “We need to open the engine and see how many cylinders are down. Leave it here a few days. After all,” he assured me, “This will not be just a little replacement part!”
To my surprise, George called late that afternoon.
Some Kind of Miracle
“You need to come and see this with your own eyes,” George said.
“What’s wrong, George?”
“Just get out here,” George almost commanded. “You’re not going to believe this!”
When I arrived at the station, I saw a grease-covered George, impatiently waving me into the garage. His black hair looked like it had also sprung an oil leak, and he was particularly red in the face. A bit overweight, George had no doubt spent one too many days eating corn chips in lieu of lunch from the vending machine, as he applied his skills for people like me, without even taking a decent break.
Peering his head from under The Blessing’s generous hood, he said, “Miss Susan, I opened the engine. Look in there!” I leaned over the large radiator trying to see what had him so perplexed.
“Can’t you see it?” he griped, as pointing out a substantial rust on some of the cylinders.
“Do you not understand?” George was frustrated now; apparently thinking my blond hair had finally clogged my brains.
“THERE IS NO WAY ON GOD’S EARTH THIS CAR SHOULD BE RUNNING!”
“Look at the rust build-up on those five cylinders—they’re rusted shut! I’d say you’ve been running on only THREE of eight cylinders for about six months. THAT’S NOT POSSIBLE!”
I had assured George, months before, that my car was a blessing, and this cinched it!
“I’m going back to church!” George said, scratching his head with an oily wrench.
The Rest of the Story
I sold The Blessing right after that, to a young mechanic George referred me to who thought it would be a collector’s item one day. I was finally able to buy another, newer car.
A few months later, I went by the station to see how my friend George was doing. I wanted to thank him again for all he had done to help me with an old “clunker” that had turned out to be a Blessing. But George was gone! No one seemed to know where, for sure.
George had finally admitted, it was a “by-God miracle” that kept The Blessing on the road all that time.
My guess is, George went home to mend his relationship with his brother; and with the One who loved him enough to send The Blessing to show him that—miracles still happen!
[True story from Susan Meredith Beyer’s book—Above “Reality”: Where Miracles Happen and Healing Begins—available in print or Kindle at Amazon]