More times than not when extreme cold weather hits our area, I am drawn back to the past, reflecting a cold night when God brought warmth in to our family’s life. I can easily say this story helped shape who we are today.
It was only a few nights before Christmas more than 20 years ago. We had faced a number of bitter cold days, much like what we have experienced this week. My wife and I were self-employed and being self-employed we knew of both great money flow and at other times great struggle. That winter we were struggling.
Shortly before that night we got rid of our family van, because we could not afford the payments. We were able to purchase a used white Cavalier station wagon that needed a paint job, but it ran pretty good.
Our children, still very young at the time, looked forward to my wife’s Aunt Imogene’s family Christmas party where she gave the children a small gift. This cold night was the night we were to go to that party.
About a week before the night of the party and just about the time the cold weather came, the heater stopped working in the Cavalier. We just did not have the money to have someone fix the heater, so we had a few blankets in the back seat so that our children could cover up from the cold.
Most of the time the trip to Aunt Imogene’s wasn’t looked at as a long trip. But that year it seemed very long. The longer we drove the colder it became.
As always we did have a great time of blessing at Aunt Imogene’s in her warm house. We may have stayed longer than we should have because we dreaded the cold that awaited our departure. Nevertheless we did bundle up and braced for our trip back home.
When we got back into town, as cold as we were, before we could go home, there was a need to stop at the store. I ran in to the store with a promise to hurry while my wife stayed with the children. I’m not sure what I bought that night, because of what was about to happen.
When I returned to the car, I came into a strange sitting. I could hear the children singing inside. I opened the door and sat down then turned to look at my wife. I noticed that she had tears in her eyes. It didn’t make a bit of sense to me. What had happened in the short time I was in the store?
The children were still singing but I really blocked them out of my mind as I focused on what was going on with my wife. I asked: ”What happened? What’s wrong? What is going on?” It looked like she was trying to say something, but when she started to speak, she only cried more. What in the world was going on? What did I miss?
I asked again; “What is it? What’s wrong?”. Still just more tears. She did however begin to motion in a way as if she was pointing to the back. With my focus on my wife, I did not realize that my oldest daughter was yelling at me.
“Daddy! Daddy!” she was yelling in a very excited tone. My wife keep pointing to the back and crying. To me it was clear that, she wanted me to address my daughter first so that she could take her time and tell me what happened.
“Yes Candace, what is it?” I asked my daughter.
“Daddy” she continued, “God answered our prayer!” In reaction to Candace’s words my wife’s cry became more audibly. Candace continued “Mommy told us to pray and ask God to fix the heater in our car, and he did!”
The heater was working. I had not even noticed this with all the emotion that I walked into. What a great God we have to answer the prayers of his children. What a night we had rejoicing in the goodness of God. For a short while we sat in the car and cried a little, sang a lot, and enjoyed the warmth God had provided.
We never did know why the heater stopped working, but that night made a huge impact on my family. It made our faith in God even stronger.
My girls are grown now, and they live on their own. God has kept them in the faith and each one of them serves God in their local church. They now not only share this story, but stories of their own.
The skeptic will claim that the heater starting to work and the prayers of my children were simply coincidental. They don’t believe unless they can identify a tangible reason. This would be called a form of reductionism by philosophers. Reductionists suppress what Alvin Plantinga calls “warrant” or “basic” beliefs in God.
All people are born with the idea of God innately planted in them. When they are forced to submit to God, in their own defiance to remain in control, they reject God. Rejection builds in them until one day they become an irrational reductionist. “I can’t see God, so he is not there,” you will hear them say.
My God and my family’s God is supernatural and beyond his tangible creation. To limit God to his creation would make God very small indeed. In fact He would be just like us. He would be a God limited to creation that could never fix a broken heater in a car without tools and without lifting the car’s hood. My family knows the “supernatural” or “above nature” God that hears a child’s prayer and will fix a car’s heater in the blink of an eye.
This is the God we serve. This is the God that warmed our hearts for a life time.