As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. -- Isaiah 55:10-11

Friday, September 29, 2006

Now, That's the Ticket!

For my husband's birthday last year, I asked the Lord for something creative to give him as a gift. The only thing that kept coming to mind was NASCAR. Rob grew up in NASCAR country and has always loved the sport. In fact, he had the honor of meeting The King himself once, and he recalls Richard Petty as being very kind to an awestruck boy. About 10 years ago, the Texas Motorspeedway opened within driving distance of here, and Rob has been drooling ever since. It seemed like the perfect gift except....

1. Have you seen the price of those tickets?!!!!!
2. Rob wouldn't want to go alone.

I kept praying. I continued to get "NASCAR tickets". Surely I had misheard. Surely God did not want me to spend money so frivolously. More prayer. More "NASCAR tickets". Finally, I relented. Fine. I would buy Rob a ticket. "Two tickets," I heard in my heart. TWO?!!!! "Yes, two." I took a deep breath and agreed.

I was curious, though. None of Rob's friends were into NASCAR, and I didn't want to go.

Who was Rob going to take?

"His dad."

Come again.

"His dad."

You want us to ask his dad to buy a plane ticket down here to go to a car race?

"No, I want you to buy the ticket."

I was convinced I had lost my mind, or at least, I wanted to be convinced, but the thing was, it was the perfect gift. One thing Rob has talked about for the last nearly-20 years is races with his dad. It's one of his favorite memories, and his dad would love it, too. It was the perfect gift. God knew His boys, and this was the perfect gift. I started making arrangements.

As I was working out how to work these rather large costs into our budget, God spoke again. "I want you to send Bob to Louisiana to see the other boys." What? "Bob needs to see the other boys, too. I want you to buy him a round trip ticket from DFW to New Orleans to see the other boys." Seriously? "Yes." Okay.

On Rob's birthday I gave him the tentative offer of tickets and the offer to fly his dad down to spend the weekend and go to the race, and I explained everything. I say "tentative" because I had not been able to reach Bob to see if he could come. However, the offer was there. Rob was flaggergasted. "Stunned" doesn't cover it. He was dumbstruck. While we were talking, the phone rang. It was his dad.

Rob explained the gift and explained the offer for plane tickets. Bob was flabbergasted. Yes, God knows His boys, and He knew more than I did about giving good gifts. I thought I had the plan. I had a part.

Six weeks later, Katrina hit, and Rob's family in Lousiana was picking up the pieces. Still, Bob was going south from here, but we would not be able to join him as we had planned.

Six weeks after that, we were preparing for Bob's trip when the phone call came that Rob's grandmother had taken a turn for the worse. On Tuesday before Bob was to fly in on Friday the phone call came that Dee Dee had passed on. On Friday, Rob and his two brothers flew north and met at an airport to drive to Dee Dee's to be with their family as they celebrated the life and mourned the loss of our precious Dee Dee. The day of the race, in fact, the exact time it started, so did Dee Dee's funeral.

As I prayed for our family's safety as they travelled and their comfort in their loss, I also prayed for answers. Had I missed it? God does not mess up, and we had been out hundreds of dollars on the race tickets alone. Did I make a mistake?

While I cannot explain everything that happened as a result of the planned trip, I can tell you that the Lord used it for healing. The Lord restored broken relationships, and I would trade hundreds of dollars for that.

Then there were the race tickets that were useless to us. Rob tried to sell them on eBay, but it didn't work, so I sent out an email saying we had these tickets, did anyone know anyone who might want them? If so, make an offer. Lo and behold, an offer was made. They couldn't cover the whole cost of a ticket, but would we sell one for a price they could afford? I was thrilled. The tickets wouldn't go to waste! I called Rob. "Give them both tickets and tell them to have fun." So I did. They said they could only afford that price for one ticket. Well, the other ticket would be useless to us anyway, so they might as well take it. They were blessed by God's provision. We were blessed to have someone take the tickets, and we moved on.

Rob's dad did visit this summer, and it was a good visit. The topic of the race tickets came up, and we told him that we had sold them. He said, "Well, I hope you got what they were worth." I laughed. Monetarily? No. In a dozen other way? The returns exceeded all expectations.

This year for Rob's birthday, I did not buy him NASCAR race tickets. We have talked about the race, and I've said, "Who knows? Maybe God will give you tickets to this year's race, and you never know. They might be better than the ones you had." (Whether that is prophetic or just knowing God's character, I don't know, but I love when God says, "You don't know the half of it, baby," and blows us away.)

This morning Rob sent me an IM. "Would you want to go to a race with me?"

I responded, "Do you have tickets?"

He replied, "Two front stretch tickets."

"Those are better tickets than the ones you had, aren't they?"

"These are the tickets I wanted." Then he told me what else he got: two pit passes, t-shirts, caps, a catered lunch, and a car to take us to the race and to pick us up after the race. I think there is more, but I don't remember.

To say the least, monetarily, what Rob received free today is worth far more than I spent last year. Relationally, what God gave us last year was priceless.

I won't tell you I understand any better right now than I did last year, but what I can tell you is I am forever in awe of God, and again, I am reminded that when I think I have the plan, I only have a part. God does not need us to work things out for Him. He only needs us to be obedient to Him so He can do what He needs to do in us and through us.

Praying God looks at our responses to His "absurd" directions and can say, "Yep, that's the ticket"......

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