Personal Stewardship Stories
Two Bad Tires and Three Twenty-Dollar BillsBy Elder Stephen Orian printed in book Over & Over Again!
A week earlier my wife, Micki, had just brought our second son home from the hospital when she had to be rushed back with life-threatening complications. Now she was with her parents in Arkansas, where she would get some needed rest and a proud grandmother could look after her newborn grandson.
I was home alone in Arlington, Texas, on a Wednesday morning when the mail brought my monthly paycheck. At the kitchen table I prepared a bank deposit slip for the check, figured our usual tithe and offerings, and reviewed the bills that needed to be paid. These included some unplanned expenses for Micki's second hospitalization. Then I remembered the car had two tires that were going bald and would very soon need to be replaced. I was overwhelmed with worry. Where could I find the money to pay for all of this?
Then, of course, I thought of the tithe. If I held it out this month, it would buy two new tires and help cover some of that extra hospital expense. The Lord would understand our predicament. Then I thought, No, I can't do this. This isn't mine. But the offering? Now that's a different matter.
Sometime earlier we had begun returning a second tithe for offerings. It had become a commitment. After wrestling for a long time on that point, I finally decided that I could not renegotiate a commitment, however voluntary, that we had made with the Lord.
In the next few moments I wrote a check for our regular tithe and offerings and then wrote checks for the rest of our bills. With concerns for the future but with a peaceful heart, I placed my tithe and offering check in an envelope and put the envelope in my Bible.
The next Sabbath, after preaching at the Arlington Church for the early service, I headed for southwest Dallas, where I was to preach at the Duncanville church.
Suddenly I recognized the familiar but unwelcome feel of a flat tire. Wednesday's worry had all too soon become a reality. Beside the road I jacked up the car and exchanged the flat tire with the spare from the trunk.
When I lowered the car again, I found to my dismay that my spare was nearly flat too. I decided it had just enough air in it to get me to the church. Very slowly I drove the remaining miles and arrived just minutes before it was time for me to begin preaching.
I made a brief apology to the congregation for my late arrival, explaining only that I had had a flat tire and a weak spare.
After the service a visiting couple asked me to visit them the next day. I met with them in their home on Sunday morning and had a very fine visit. I offered a special prayer for God's blessings on the family and got up to leave. The couple followed me out to my car, where they thanked me again for my coming to visit them. As I shook hands with the husband I felt him passing something into the palm of my hand.
Surprised, I found that he had given me a roll of money. I immediately insisted that I could not take this from them. I explained that I was fully compensated for my work, including visits like this one. They refused to take back the money but suggested that I could possibly use it for a new tire. Very much embarrassed, I thanked them and drove away.
No one, including this couple, knew the struggle I had gone through the previous Wednesday. All that anyone knew was that I had Had a flat tire. As I straightened out the roll of bills I counted out $60 and realized it was just enough to buy two new tires.
Tears came into my eyes as I remembered my struggle just days earlier and how God had provided marvelously and quickly exactly the means necessary to meet our immediate needs. Never again could I consider withholding tithe or offerings from One who cared and provided so graciously.
And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that you may always have enough of everything and may provide in abundance for every good work. 2 Corinthians 9:8, RSV.
From the book Over & Over Again! written by Ronald Alan Knott printed by the North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists 1998
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