Nothing could be more hideous than my blue minivan. Okay, so something could be, but it had to be really bad. I stood on the side of the interstate and glared at the ugly hulk of blue that had embarrassed me by suddenly decelerating and then obstinately refused to start up again. My toddler sat in his car seat behind the driver's seat watching the cars speed by. I kicked at the passenger tire and muttered under my breath, "Stupid van."
At least I'd had the foresight to leave early for my OB appointment. When my mom arrived to rescue my son and I, I still had time to get to the doctor's. I drove my mom's new Pontiac Vibe to the appointment, enjoying the new smell, the cleanliness of the interior and the smooth sparkle of the flawless silver paint. It reminded me of my dream van--the van I'd been privileged to own for a mere fourteen months. That minivan had also been silver, with double sliding doors I could control with the touch of a button, an awesome radio system that let my kids listen to their music, while I enjoyed my own. Everyday that I drove my van, I discovered some new, wonderful trait that it possessed. Until my husband totaled it and the insurance company refused to cover it because he was unlicensed.
And now I was stuck driving the ghetto van, as my brothers liked to call it, because they were the lucky ones who got to work on it every time it broke down--which was often. Against my will I had learned such wonderful terms as distributor cap, power steering box, ignition box, and oxygen sensor; I could locate most of them and replace some of them. I suppose I might have been able to handle the van's continual problems if I had been the only person to suffer the consequences, but far too often I had one or more of my kids in the car, and I hated to see them sitting on the side of the road, imagining all the fun they were missing at their grandparents' house while we waited for someone to fix the van. And I couldn't stand to see their hot, sweaty faces as we drove around in the Phoenix heat with only minimal air flow in the front, and no rear A/C--not to mention the fact that the power windows refused to open.
Why would the Lord make us suffer so? What purpose was there to us being stuck with such a terrible vehicle? I had prayed often for the Lord to help us get a newer vehicle, something clean and reliable. Now, on my way to the doctor, I wondered again why my prayers went unanswered. Baby number six was due to join the family in a few weeks; how could I subject our new family member to the trauma of riding in the ghetto van?
But still our prayers went seemingly unheeded. Baby number six arrived, and we had to redo the entire front end of the van after a tire nearly slipped off. We bought battery powered fans and did our best to cope with the summer's tortuous temperatures. We Gorilla Glued the leak in the A/C unit, and replaced the power steering gaskets. And still I prayed for a newer vehicle.
I began to panic as the arrival of baby number seven neared. Although I had resigned myself to the ugly blue van, and even was able to recognize what a blessing it was to have any vehicle at all, the van only had room for eight passengers. When the baby came, we would be one seat short.
Finally, three months before my due date, the awaited miracle arrived. I found myself driving home in a nearly new, twelve-passenger van. I marveled at its new smell, its cleanliness, and the flawless shining white paint. And I spent days trying to convince myself that it was really mine. What wise purpose had the Lord had in mind as he had me wait all those years for what I wanted and needed?
Never have I cared for a vehicle as I care for the van. And from all of the selfless service people rendered to me when my car was broken, I have learned to share, to give back. I fill up those seats as often as I can.