Low Slow & The Tree of LIFE | Making tough decisions, as you walk through the valley of the shadow of death.
I'd like to take this post to tell you about my journey this week. I hope that I can help you learn more about hearing God's voice in the midst of a trial and tough situation. If you are going through a hardship right now, let this encourage you.
My wife and I had two weeks of car happenings. Only weeks after we bought the 2002 Volvo S60 for $1,000.... the check engine light comes on. Which, if you buy a lot of used "Cash Cars", usually means it's dead and time to get another. Not always, it can be fixable. It just usually isn't. Meanwhile, there's an oil leak that has been getting worse and worse.
|2005 Mazda3 - Special Thanks to AutonNation So FW|
The Unexpected Surprise | Check Engine Light
The old car was dying:
To Fix or Not To Fix... that is the question?!
May is coming, inspection/registration is due. That puts pressure on getting this done. My wife mentions that there is a free Auto Check event going on at a local church (EMIC), of which I'm an e-member. I dropped by and had the mechanics look at it.
The oil leak actually gets worse WHILE we're at the auto-check. I hear the words Cam Seals... and all I could think after that was money, money, money... $ $ $ $ $... my mind went numb after that. I'm a wordsmith, not a mechanic. Sure I can check tires, brakes, oil, serpentine belt... but let's not ask me to do anything else (or I might not get it back together).
The following week, I'm dumping 5 quarts of oil in the morning, and it's gone by the time I'm out of work. I have to start putting in just a bit, and pulling over every ten miles to put more in.
STOP | DROP | LISTEN | LOW SLOW
The first lesson I learned this week "Low Slow". I first wrote about Low Slow in my bible journal (here) on 12/2011. I guess it takes me a long time to learn a lesson. When a situation comes up, don't get frantic and start racking your brain for the answer.
You need to get into Low Slow, shift down. Stop what you are doing and thinking. Let the Spirit of God talk to your heart. Make no move until you feel a particular leading. Then obey that.
God said to take it to a particular Mechanic, so I did. I spent the day doing writing and research. I had breakfast with a friend. I got to know my neighbor better that afternoon. The mechanic took all day, and didn't have an answer. Had to leave it over the weekend, and didn't get a final answer until Monday afternoon. It was worse than previously thought.
Andrew (Alliance Dyno) is a straight shooter. "I hate to take a car off the road, and I'd love to take your business, but this one needs too much work. You'll spend twice what it's worth getting it on the road, and it still won't be right."
Worse News: The Valley of the shadow of Death
So here's where I fell apart. I had gone into Low Slow. I heard God, right? Did I? How could I have heard God if the end result was worse news? Did I miss it? What's wrong with me?
I'm going to be honest, this is where depression hit. Big time. I've had bouts of it before, but this was hard. Now what? I'm REALLY trapped.
Looking back on this phase, I can tell my earlier self something I didn't know then. Psalms 23 promises, that you can walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death with no Fear because God is walking through there with you. And you'll come out on the other side, not only un-dead, but better off. He'll overflow your cup.
God didn't promise that he'd help me avoid that valley, or go around it. He said he'd walk me THROUGH it. That's a huge theological shift for my brain. I figured I must of has missed Him when the worse news came. I didn't. God told me to go to that shop, pay them a reasonable $85.00 ( they spent more time than that working on my answer), to let me know the honest condition of this old car.
So this was just the first leg of the journey, but I was still walking through the valley.
Phase Two: Keep Listening and Following (Low Slow Continued)
In this next phase, I needed to learn a valuable lesson (that I HOPE I never forget). When you obey the first thing He says, that is like taking the first leg of the journey through the Valley. You need to keep listening and following to get through.
So, my wife and I prayed ( she more than me), and we both felt we should trade it in for a new car. Impossible, I'd never qualify for credit, and we have no cash left. Wrong, Wrong.
- Parents came through with cash assistance (thanks Mom and Dad).
- I felt led to apply at USAA Bank, and got approved us for a car loan at less than 9%, what?! Crazy!
- Found deductions that were un-needed and made room in the budget.
Then it was time to find the right car... which is where things went great and not...
Manna | Blessing For The Journey | This Daily Bread
My neighbor (thanks neighbor B!) picked me up from the mechanic that Friday, so I could leave it with them. He gave me a ride to work on Monday. And Tuesday let me borrow his extra car for the week, helping me see that taking our time is better than rushing into a decision.
I have to say, I'm used to working hard and making it happen. If I can't buy the car, or rent one, I'll take the bus. Letting him help me, was probably among the hardest things I've ever done (or so says my ego). I guess I'm not a good receiver, yet.
As hard as that was, I didn't go without all week. I had reliable transportation for the week and didn't have to miss more work.
Phase Three: The Decision
My wife and I saw the ad for a 2005 Mazda 3 (pictured at the top of this post) on day one of the search, I even printed the CarFax and Posting data.
But I kept searching, kept using my Tree of Knowledge to add more and more conditions to my search. Eventually, the whole search ground to a halt of indecision.
I had gotten out of the Tree of LIFE, and swung back over to the Tree of Knowledge.
"My knowledge can make this happen."
Irritation and Confusion are the twin sons of the Tree of Knowledge.
As many times as I searched, this was the car that kept coming up. Then I saw one that seamed right to my reasoning, "The One", only to have it sold before I was ready to go see it.
We visited Shall Remain Nameless, and experienced the hustle of a Car Dealership. Uhg! No prices listed on the cars. I ask about the price and I hear, "I'm not sure, I'll have to check" (but makes no move to go check). I told him were we wanted to end up, they showed us two that might work for us. We sit, we spend hours, they bring us paperwork DOUBLE what I told them.
They wanted to talk payments, and get us to forget about total price. How can this type of business practice still be legal? In the connection economy, it's thankfully dying away (just wish it was gone completely).
Thankfully, we had the presence of mind to leave.
New Dealers like CarMax and AutoNation are built on the understanding that the Connection Economy will not allow for the old type of treatment any longer.
We left that dealership, and I was sinking into deep depression. I was so far into the Tree of Knowledge, that I had built a Tree House and moved in. I back to frantically trying to "make it work" and scheming in my own abilities.
Low Slow... keep it Low Slow
Thank God for my wife, who is patient and kind with me. She got me to stop just long enough, be still just long enough, shut my mind up just long enough... to hear.
This time, when the leading came, it was subtle now. There were no bells, whistles, flashing lights. No strong presence or joy. But there was a subtle quiet peace that settled over me as I turned back to the first car, the one both of us kept coming back to. The one I'd found on day one.
Someone was supposed to test drive it that day, but they never showed. We came in last part of the day, and it was even better than I'd hoped. It was the perfect fit to this time in our lives.
The process was painless too. No hustle. No haggle. Doug B and Doug W with AutoNation SFW were great to work with, patient with my questions, gave me time to digest figures and run my excel sheets.
In the end, we left with the car that had shown up over, and over, and over, in our search. The one I kept getting drawn to, but couldn't quite explain why. The one I kept ignoring, looking for other things to satisfy my reasoning and mind. No, it wasn't in line with my 120 point list of "must haves", but it was the right fit. Then again, there exactly ZERO cars that fit that list.
Temptation To Follow The System (religion)
I'm tempted to say that I'll buy all my cars from AutoNation, and if God develops that relationship, so be it. But I've also learned not to fall into that rut too.
Don't jump to the answer that worked last time. God seldom works the same way twice. His principles are timeless, his methods will vary. God will ALWAYS provide for you, but He will usually change the method of His provision. Otherwise, you stop listening to him, and just do it the same way every time. That's not relationship, that's religion.
In 2 Samuel 5:23, David had previously asked the Lord "Shall we go up?" and the Lord answered "Go Up". This time David inquires again (most likely thinking: Same Plan). However, God doesn't say to go up this time, God says: "Go around, attack from behind".
In this simple story, is a PROFOUND truth. We must not rely on our systems.
One time, many, many years ago, my Dad took me and my brothers to a Casino for food. I think it was Christmas, and they were the only ones open. As I was leaving, I left my family, and turned aside to the machines. I felt the presence of God there. At a Casino? YES! The Spirit of God dwells in you, and the wealth of the sinner is laid up for the just. God told me to put a dollar (maybe less? long time ago) into the machine. I did. I pulled the handle. It started making loud noises, lights went off. Coins were dumping out like an ocean.
I was so startled, that I backed off. I thought I'd broken it! LOL.
The two little old folks near me told me to wait for the attendant. She came by, and checked the machine, pushed some buttons, and told me to wait. I left that day with approximately $750 in cash, and $55 in nickels.
I tried several times since then, never happened again. In fact, God told me it wouldn't.
Conclusion: Be Still, Be Led, Listen, Act
I hope this has helped you. If you are trying to "figure it out", "make it happen"... etc. If you are experiencing stress increase as you walk through the valley, you are doing it wrong. Be Still, Be Led... when in doubt "Low Slow".
More about BeStillBeLed <here>
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