God always takes care of us so perfectly. Years ago, when I was in seminary, a fellow ministerial student named Don Allen asked me for help buying a new car. He considered me to be a better negotiator than he was.
On this particular winter day, a light dusting of snow covered all of western Missouri. Don picked me up in his old car that he wanted to trade. This small imported station wagon had definitely seen better days before living its life for over a decade in the Rust Belt.
He said for me to watch my step getting into the car because the floorboards had rusted through on my side. As we drove along, it was the opposite of having a sunroof – instead of looking at the sky – I watched the road as it moved a few inches underneath me.
He said, “Tell me if you feel like you are getting sleepy.” I asked him what he meant, and he said there were holes in the exhaust, and fumes tended to come into the interior through the big opening in the floor – especially on cold days when you had to have the windows fully rolled up.
There was no heater; however, you did get some heat off of the gases from the hot exhaust.
When we entered the first dealership, I told him to be noncommittal and that I would talk to them, preparing the way for the best deal. We prayed for God’s help. I told him to keep a low profile and look around at the first dealership.
We drove for about 15 miles, then, as we were stopped at the light, waiting to turn left into the first dealership — the car caught on fire! Flames were coming out of the sides of the hood. I was ready to bolt for the safety of the grass in the median when the light changed, and Don quickly floored it, pulling into Mitch Crawford Chrysler in Raytown, Missouri.
To my dismay, he parked directly in front of the showroom window.
It seemed as if every employee of the dealership ran outside. Three had the quick foresight to grab fire extinguishers, sensing correctly that this old wagon could blow up if the fire were not immediately put out.
Don walked into the dealership – never has a person in automotive history ever had a more noticed higher profile.
He said to the 12 salespeople staring at us, “I want to buy a car!”
One said, “What kind?” Don said, “I don’t know. What do you have?”
The salesman said, “Well, we have a nice gray sedan out back.”
And Don said something I will never forget, and I quote, “I’ll take it! – how much will you give me for my trade?” – pointing to the chartered lump of steel outside the dealership window.
The salesman said, “Don’t you want to see it first?”
“No,” he said, I’ll take it!”
I just stared at him and tried whispering to him, “Be cool.” But he just couldn’t.
Within one hour, he was in his beautiful new car. The people at the dealership liked him so much they bent over backward to help him. They even gave him $500 for his trade that was still smoking in the parking lot. And that was a lot of money all those years ago for a car that would have been better as a Weber Grill.
Everyone was laughing and having a wonderful time. I am sure that dealership still remembers when Don Allen drove in and said, “I want to buy a car!”
God helped him make one of the best deals I have ever seen, with the opposite of every human negotiating skill that I have ever learned.
God does take care of us.
There is human negotiation, and then there is the superior God negotiation. No matter how bad things appear when God takes over – Divine order governs the day.