Last Saturday, after taking the minivan to Nissan to have the O2 sensor replaced for the third time in 6 weeks, I drove the kids out to Multnomah Falls (17 miles away) to get in a "drive cycle", so that I could try to take it through DEQ (the emissions testers) and get the registration renewed.
The check engine light didn't come on.
And it continued not coming on.
And then it still hadn't come on.
And I tried not to get my hopes up. Because I had done this before, one of the previous times... I had made it to Multnomah Falls and back only to have DEQ tell me that I still needed a drive cycle, and then, when I went back *again*, the engine light came on again. Surely this time would be like that last time. I didn't want to feel let down by God again. I wanted to be prepared when the engine light came on and the knowledge sunk in that there would be no avoiding the $1400 and up repair of the van's computer, which Nissan had told me would have to come next if this didn't work.
But somehow I felt different than I had that last time. That previous time, I was hopeful, almost confident that God would come through. But it had been as if some part of me knew that I was deluding myself, that it wasn't going to work. This time, there was a feeling ... it's hard to describe. "Healing the brokenhearted" is what comes to mind. This time I was broken inside, expecting more disappointment, and God was telling me, "I'm here for you." Not in the "Trust me, you can survive this with my help" way that he sometimes does, but in the "I'm going to give you what you want" way.
I kept thinking of that time when Elijah had a positive test for celiac, and we had the test re-done, and the doctor called back to tell us the results. I'd felt like God had been giving me messages of healing, but in the moment I picked up the phone and heard the doctor's voice, I just couldn't bring myself to believe it. When the doctor said the test showed Elijah was fine, my heart did little cartwheels of joy, and my eyes probably sprung a few leaks. Driving the van that Saturday, I felt almost exactly the way I had in those moments on the phone before I heard the news.
By the time I got back, DEQ was closed and did not open again until Tuesday. So Tuesday morning the kids and I piled in the van and drove down to the testing station. In my previous trips, after getting the computer readings, the DEQ people had always led with the question, "Have you seen a mechanic recently?".
When this time the tester said, "That'll be twenty-one dollars, please", I wanted to leap for joy. We sang "Thank you, Thank you, Jesus" on the way home.
It got me thinking, though. Why didn't God have the van be fixed the first time around? Did he really *want* me to be broken, just so he could fix me? Isn't that a little... evil?
But then I got to thinking what would have happened if God *had* fixed my van the first time. If I am honest with myself, I can see that I would have started to think that faith was the *only* thing I needed to achieve results. If God had fixed the van the first time, I'd have started to see God as my own personal genie, performing wishes on demand, as long as I "believe". My relationship with Him would have gotten more screwed up. Allowing my heart to break sometimes keeps me humble.
After getting home and calling Ken with the good news (and then calling the Nissan lady with the good news), I felt like we ought to go out after dinner and celebrate with some ice cream. Only later did I notice that it was my wedding anniversary. It's no fun celebrating an anniversary during Lent, so I've been planning for us to celebrate it the Friday after Easter (since we got married on a Friday after Easter). Getting the van finally fixed, though, seemed a fitting anniversary present from God, and we got a little celebration in after all, at Baskin Robbins.