Friday, June 09, 2006

Asked for a Gift...

...which I have been reluctant to give.

I have not been asked to contribute for a shower gift, nor asked to give of my time for a volunteer project. I have not been invited to a birthday for a person to whom I do not wish to buy a gift. In fact, it is not a human that has asked me for a gift.

It is Jesus, my Lord and Saviour, who has smiled down on us with so many blessings through His Holy Image of the Infant of Praque. And now He has asked me for a gift. Just a little sacrifice, and only in a material sense.

You see, we had a little money coming from Canada, money we are able to receive each year out of our retirement savings. And each year within 5 - 6 business days of receiving the physical cheque we have had the funds so there was little reason to think it would be different this year.

With the cheque safely deposited, we searched the state auctions to see what might be available in the line of vans. Ours is really on it's last legs, or should I say wheels? The heater grinds and moans while churning out heat and when set on the a/c mode, still whines and moans as it churns out... heat. The brakes, at best, are iffy and the transmission thinks for a little while before it shifts gears. Gas mileage, well we just won't state anything here in case the Environmental movement is monitoring me. When it rains, the wipers don't make that much difference because of all of the leaks that drip down the inside of the windshield.

And there it was - my van. A burgandy coloured van. I was thrilled to see it had the same combination of doors that I have always wanted on a van and have yet to have. (You can see my priorities!) And it was right here, just a few miles away which would allow us to check it out and make sure it was operating fine.

As sson as we had a spare moment we drove over to the State Surplus Building. Hugo showed me where I had to stand in line to ask for the keys to the van. It was hot in this building - despite the huge fans and a trickle of sweat made it's way down my neck. I got to the front of the line and asked for the keys to auction number xyz123.
"Oh, I'm sorry - but those keys are already out. Ask back in about, ummmm, 10 minutes." Dissapointed and worried someone else might actually win my van I sat down, nearby, at the table people used to write out their bids. There were binders with old bids in them so I flipped through to see what other like vehicles had been won for. While thumbing through the worn pages I kept my eye on the door. Soon two young hispanic men returned a key. Trying not to look too interested, I asked again for the key to the vehicle I wanted to see. It was they who had had it.

With the key clasped in my hot little hand I caught up with Hugo who was scouting out possible bargins to bid on. We headed back out into the heat, and over to the car lot. We unlocked the van and I checked out the interior. It was clean. Hugo checked out the motor and was happy with it. And we were both tickled to see that the A/C worked. I sat for a while enjoying its cool breeze before we headed back to place our bid.

Back inside the large building I sat back down at the table and Hugo gave me a bid to fill out. As I carefully filled in all the appropriate sections the same two gentleman that had just checked my van sat down. One was chatting eagerly on his cell. In spanish, of course. Little did he know we were bilingual and Hugo and I exchanged glances. I could tell he was listening in case the fellow should let it drop what he was going to bid on and how much. I twiddled with my pen until the fellow hung up, nodded to his companion and they left. "Well?" I hissed in Hugo's ear.
Apparently the felow had not mentioned my van at all. We settled on a number we would use as our bid, high enough that we felt relatively sure of winning, but still well below the street value. If we won - it would be a bargin indeed.

Then began the twenty four hour wait. I felt completly confidant that we would win. So much so that I did not actually worry that much about it. I woke up the next morning with that Christmas morning feeling and when I came downstairs I saw that the screen of my monitor was showing the State Bids. Hugo had already been checking them.

We had won his bids and...we had won the van. That afternoon, counting my chickens before they had hatched, I bought liners to place under the children's carseats to help protect the ulphostery of my 'new to me' van. Little did I know that Jesus was going to ask me to give it back to Him.

The deadline for the payment for the van is this coming Wednesday, the day after we will finish our St Anthony Novena. I was confident that the money from Canada would be in the bank in time to pay for the van on St Anthony's feast day - it just felt so fitting that we would complete the purchase on his special day. But day after day there was nothing in the account. Still confident that all would be okay I called the bank to determine what the delay was.
This began an exchange of phone calls that would spread over several days, with each day bringing us closer to the deadline. A little pit began to grow in my stomach. Doubt knawed at meduring the night. Maybe it would not be okay. Maybe I wouldn't get my van... Maybe Jesus was asking me:

"Do you love me enough to say yes? Enough to say, Yes Jesus, I accept your answer of No. "

I balked at this. Surely after allowing us to win the van - Jesus did not mean to take it back. Did He?

Well, as it turns out, there is no way that this money will be in the bank in time. In order to stop a series of errors in judgement made by banking personel and other mistakes they made - we have had to ask for a stop payment on the the cheque. Then a new cheque will be cut and mailed to us. Even overnighted - it will not get here in time to clear.

But the land lord has agreed to wait yet longer for our cheque. We have been able to pay our Hydro bill. Before the insurance is past due some other smaller cheques will have cleared and we will be able to pay for it. The small auctions my husband bid on, and needed to win for the business, have been paid. It is very, very clear to me that Jesus wants my yes.

And so, reluctantly, I have said yes. Those two liners for the car seats are still sitting on my shelf and later I will place them under the carseats in our current 1984 van. It deserves a little love after all. I think my biggest regret is that I am not more joyful about saying yes. Little by little the past two days - it has hurt less and I have even been able to laugh at myself - a little.

And, hopefully, someday when Jesus says no, I will be mature enough to accept it without the pout. Read more!