Joseph Herrin (08-26-2015)
The Gift - 2003 Toyota RAV4
The Father is blessing me in extraordinary ways this month, and the manner in which He has been moving, and the experiences I have had, I believe will serve as encouragement for others to hear about. Less than a week after having received a new printer for the prison ministry, a printer costing in excess of $2,000, I have received another blessing from the Father as five brothers in Christ, some of whom have never met me face to face, banded together to purchase a car for me. Earlier today I sent them a letter of thanks and an explanation of what I had observed the Father doing in this event. I am modifying that letter, removing names, as I know that these men would prefer to remain anonymous in their charitable giving.
“But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.”
What follows is an edited version of the letter I sent to each of these five men.
I wanted to send a personal thank you note to each of you five brothers who banded together in the love of Christ to send a gift to another member of Christ’s body, that member being me. Everything about this event has had the stamp of Yahweh’s Spirit upon it since it first began. For the sake of those whom I have not shared with personally regarding this matter, I want to give you some background information so that you will understand the context of events which started when brother [Name Withheld] first called me to announce your intent to purchase a car for me. This will narrative will serve a dual purpose as I will also be sharing this information on my blog site.
I have shared on my website numerous times in the past that the Father has led me to a much simpler and more humble material life than I once experienced. I no longer have a 2,000 square foot house on 3/4s of an acre in town. I do not have loads of furnishings and the array of goods that I formerly had prior to the year 2000. The Lord led me to walk away from those things at the end of 1999 and I have found great liberty in having much less in the way of material goods. Living in a motorhome encourages a person to be careful about acquiring too much stuff. There simply is not room to put all the items one might fit in a standard home or apartment. Although my acquisitions tend to be constrained by available space, I do not lack for any necessary thing.
In my mind, this more Spartan form of living has been very agreeable to my own sensibilities and preferences. Once I lightened my load by disposing of the vast bulk of worldly goods I had accumulated, I found there was a great freedom having less of this world’s goods. There was much less to maintain, to keep track of, to concern myself with safeguarding. My mind was freed up to attend to other matters, such as the fulfillment of the ministry Yahweh had entrusted to me. I have often reflected on the following words of the apostle Paul.
I Corinthians 7:29-32
But this I say, brethren, the time has been shortened, so that from now on those who have wives should be as though they had none; and those who weep, as though they did not weep; and those who rejoice, as though they did not rejoice; and those who buy, as though they did not possess; and those who use the world, as though they did not make full use of it; for the form of this world is passing away. But I want you to be free from concern.
The admonition to “those who buy, as though they did not possess,” and “those who use the world, as though they did not make ful use of it,” have spoken much to me. In a world that encourages men and women to get all they can while they have the opportunity, there is a blessedness that is experienced by those rare individuals who say, “No thank you. I have enough. Having food and covering, I am content.”
Since 2011 I have not owned a car. Because I pull a trailer behind my motorhome, it was not possible to tow a car when relocating, and my situation has been such in recent years that I have been able to do the majority of my local travel via bicycle or recumbent trike.
This had the added benefit of providing me with some much needed exercise, as sitting behind a computer writing is a very sedentary occupation. On the few occasions during recent years when I have thought of owning a car, I have always concluded that I really prefer to NOT own one. My reasons for this are several. Owning a car is an added expense, and when living by faith as I do, it does relieve some of the challenge of daily life to keep one’s personal expenses as low as possible. Additionally, a car does require some attention to keep it properly maintained. Ultimately, I have concluded that unless Yahweh saw a need for me to own a car, I did not want one.
Not owning a car has not been difficult, but it has led me to pursue other ways of getting certain things done. As my prison newsletter ministry has increased, I have needed to purchase bulky and heavy supplies such as reams of paper more often. I would occasionally catch a ride with my daughter for the 30 mile round trip to town in order to purchase paper at Walmart, or I would order it from Amazon or Office Depot and have it delivered. The same is true regarding bulky or heavy personal items such as cases of bottled water. I would normally try to stock up when I was catching a ride with someone else to town. A ride was frequently available, so my lack of car ownership was not a problem.
In recent months the newsletter ministry has tripled in circulation and I am receiving much more correspondence from men in prison. I had been accustomed to riding my recumbent trike to town once a week to collect my mail at the post office. Things were getting to the point that I needed to travel to the post office more than once a week, as my box would be crammed full of mail. It is an hour’s bike ride to town and another hour back, plus whatever time is spent in town, so these trips would take a large bite out of my day and my productivity. Still, everything was manageable, and I continued to be very content to live without a car.
Some months ago, a young man who was living with me after his release from prison had some car issues, having one car that was high mileage and prone to breakdown, and a truck he had recently purchased which led him to incur some debt. I was concerned about his being in debt, as the Father had dealt with me pretty severely over that issue many years earlier (I have been debt free since late 1999). I knew he was planning to sell his old car as soon as his truck was driveable. This young man’s experience in buying a truck is a long story, for it involves the Lord’s discipline in his life. In brief, the truck was driving fine when he bought it, but he took it to a relative who had some mechanical ability to look it over that he might identify whatever might need servicing. The relative in turn asked a friend with substance abuse problems to work on the truck. The man proceeded to cut wires indiscriminately on the wiring harness, including wires going to computer control modules. He destroyed the engine wiring and was not able to put it back together. Three separate mechanics have now told this young man that the cost in parts and labor to get it running again would total more than the truck is worth. It was an expensive lesson for a young disciple of Christ about the need to carefully divide between soul and spirit.
This played out over several months. Some weeks after this young man agreed to purchase the truck, I offered to buy his car from him so that he could pay off his debt on the truck. I told him to continue driving the car until his truck was repaired. It was around this time that I first heard from the brother who would end up spearheading this effort to purchase me a car.
As it turned out, I never did take possession of the car from the young man who was staying with me. After I paid for it, and telling the young man to keep driving it as long as he needed it, a couple month’s elapsed. The young man moved out during this time to begin renting his own place. He called me one day and offered to buy it back from me as he had hit a deer with it, and it was now becoming obvious that his truck was not going to be repaired. I still had no compelling reason to have a car, and I saw that the young man could use it, so I agreed to sell it back to him. After he had paid me $100 I was convicted that he should not be in debt to anyone, including me, so I called him and told him that I forgave him the debt and he no longer owned me anything on the car. The title had remained in his name the entire time, so the car remained his.
This event caused me to consider briefly whether the Father wanted me to have a car again. I had no clear leading in the matter. A couple weeks ago my daughter Kristin asked me if I wanted to buy her car. It is a 2002 VW Jetta which has been encountering numerous mechanical problems of late. Since she drives daily, and sometimes has a need to drive out of state, she determined that she should start looking for a more dependable car for herself. I did not have any leading from the Father to buy Kristin’s Jetta, but her question once more caused me to consider the matter of whether Yahweh wanted me to own a car.
A couple days later I found myself browsing the Craigslist ads to see what was available. I spent a couple hours in the morning doing this, then suddenly stopped as I thought, “This is crazy. I am wasting valuable time when I have other things to do, and the Lord has not even told me that He wants me to have a car.” So I put the matter aside. Around lunch time the thought of owning a car came to mind once more. I sensed the need to settle the matter before the Lord. I prayed to the Father with great focus, relating to Him my thoughts about car ownership. I reiterated that I preferred to keep my life simple and, unless He saw a need for me to own a car, I preferred to not have one. I confessed, however, that I was incapable on my own to make a decision in this matter. I therefore told Yahweh that I was going to lay the issue entirely in His hands, and I would not take it up again. I acknowledged that He was very capable of revealing to me in any way He chose whether He wanted me to own a car, and I was content to rest in this matter until He revealed His will. Having prayed, I felt a release from this matter, and a sense of rest and peace, being confident that I was not striving in this matter, nor seeking any desire of my own soul.
It was no more than two minutes after I had concluded my prayers to the Father that brother (Name Withheld) called. After we exchanged pleasantries, and chatted for a few minutes, this brother in Christ asked me what had transpired regarding my purchasing the car belonging to the young man staying with me. I related to him what I shared above. This brother then surprised me by stating that he and some other brothers in the Lord had a desire and a leading to purchase a car for me. Informing me of this was the purpose of his call.
Now, I do not have people calling me every day saying they are sensing a leading of the Father to buy me a car. In the past four years in which I have not owned an automobile, no one has offered to purchase one for me. The timing of the brother’s call, immediately following my prayer, having laid the matter into Yahweh’s hands, was remarkable. My conclusion was that Yahweh was answering my prayer from just a moment before. When I remarked on the timing to this brother, he said he had been considering this matter for some weeks, but due to a busy schedule, he had hesitated to call me until that moment.
What a remarkable God we serve! Yahweh knew that I needed the confidence that He was leading in this matter, so He directed my heart to consider the issue of car ownership at this time, and to commit it fully into His hands, before He responded by revealing His will. Had things not transpired in this manner, I would have had significant doubt as to whether this proffered gift of a car was initiated by the Spirit of Christ. I would mention again that one of the reasons I need this confidence in the Lord’s will before acquiring major material items such as a vehicle, is largely due to the dynamics of a life of faith. I am confident that if Yahweh is the initiator of something, He will supply every need related to it. With a car, there are ongoing expenses for gas, insurance, tags, maintenance, etc.. It would be presumptuous of me to obligate myself to such expenses if the Father were not clearly revealing it to be His will. Because I have no secular employment, no church or other organized group supporting me, no savings in the bank, I must look to Yahweh daily to supply every need. He has not promised to supply my wants, but He has assured me that as I follow wherever He leads, and do whatever He calls me to do, that He will be the guarantor of every need I have that results from submitting to His leadership.
Having spiritual peace and rest in my life is very important. I know that if I step out of the Father’s will and begin making decisions out of my soul, it will result in stress in my life. If I obligate myself to some expense due to following the counsel, passions, or desires of my soul, I will then have to figure out a way to meet those expenses. Because Yahweh has called me to labor full-time in ministry and to not pursue secular employment, I am almost guaranteed problems if I step outside of the Father’s will.
Yahweh has continued to affirm His will regarding my owning a car as this process has continued. By His Spirit He has informed me that I am to pay special attention to getting all things in readiness at this time. The recent writing I posted titled Time to Care for My Vineyard, expresses the conviction I have felt that I need to be getting things in readiness for coming days. This readiness does not relate merely to preparation for social or economic problems which are surely coming to this nation before too long, but are also related to preparation for the next season of ministry.
As I recently shared on the Parables Blog, Yahweh greatly blessed me with the gift of a much more capable printer which I will be able to use for the prison newsletter ministry. A brother in Christ is also making much progress in developing an application to automate the record keeping and printing of the newsletters. These advances will enable me to continue to expand the ministry to reach more men in prison. I sense that the car is also intended for the needs of this next season of ministry, the specifics of which I do not see clearly, but which our Father in heaven knows perfectly. Yahweh has been abundantly generous financially of late. I sense that this is His grace being bestowed that I might quickly accomplish those tasks and preparations He has called me to do. I am hearing from others at this time who are also being given much grace to accomplish things quickly.
Brother [Name Withheld] informed me that there are five men altogether who have joined together in this matter of purchasing a car for me. The Biblical significance of the number five is “grace.” Adding to this testimony is the amount of $5,000 that you men were led to give. When a number is raised to the level of the thousands, it speaks of that which occurs in the heavens (single digits signify that which pertains to an individual, whereas a number raised to the level of the hundreds refers to the nations). Consequently, the number of five men, and the amount of $5,000 speak of agreement between men on earth and God in heaven who are acting in harmony.
I believe Yahweh is indicating that new things are coming related to my life and ministry. I suspect this is true of others as well. I have found it an interesting testimony that preparation for these “new things” has been occurring at a rapid pace during the month of August. August is the 8th month of the year, and 8 is the number of “new beginnings.” This numeric significance is partly established by the testimony of Christ rising from the grave on the 8th day (the day following the Sabbath - Sabbath meaning seventh).
This leads to a further confirming testimony in this matter. I received the check for $5,000 in the mail on 8/24/2015. This is the 8th month. The day was the 24th which is (8+8+8). Also, the digits from the year 2015 add up to a sum of 8. Thus, the date can be represented as 8/888/8. Quite remarkable. Lest some should think this is mere coincidence and has no significance, I would share that the printer Yahweh also led me to purchase this month was a Xerox ColorQube Model 8880. The number 888 is itself significant in that it is the gematria value for the name of Jesus (Iesous) in the Greek language in which the New Testament was written.
I deposited the funds the day the check arrived, and the money was available in my checking account the next morning. I had held off on looking for cars until I received the money, knowing that vehicles often are not available for long once they have been offered for sale. Having received the monetary gift, I devoted myself to prayer in the matter once more. I acknowledged that since the Father was leading in this matter, and He had initiated it, that He must surely have a specific vehicle in mind that He deemed to be suitable for my future needs which He knew perfectly. I asked Him to help me make a quick work of finding a car and acquiring it, as I had many other things pressing to work on. After committing the car search to the Father, I spent a couple hours looking on Craigslist, Ebay, and other sites, without sensing any clear direction. I returned to prayer once more and asked the Father again to guide me. I was reminded of Elijah praying for rain, and how he had to return repeatedly to prayer before the answer was given. The cloud was out there, but my eyes could not yet see it. Once more I got down on my knees and confessed my dependence upon the Father, asking Him to direct my mind and thoughts in this search.
After I had prayed, my daughter sent me an e-mail with a link to a car that had been posted that very day on Craigslist. I had seen the car at the very beginning of my search. It was one of the vehicle types that I had on my short list of cars to purchase (Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, Subaru Forester). Because I live on a dirt road that turns boggy when it has been raining hard, I desired to get an AWD or 4WD vehicle. The vehicle my daughter sent me the link to was a Toyota RAV4, but it was not 4WD. It was front wheel drive. This is why I did not immediately recognize it as the Father’s provision when I first saw the ad for it on Craigslist. I conceded that the 4WD criteria could be my own preference as many people, including my daughter, have navigated these dirt roads in 2WD vehicles for years, with the occasional need of being pulled out of a ditch, or pulled out of a particularly rough patch of road.
After my daughter’s e-mail, I revisited the Craigslist ad for this vehicle to consider it further. Brother [Name Withheld]’s mechanic had given a favorable endorsement of the Toyota vehicles, which was a point in its favor. I also knew that Toyota’s were highly rated for their quality and durability. I then considered that the car was offered for the exact amount of money I had been sent to purchase a car, $5,000.00. This was unusual, for most cars near this price were offered at $4,995.00. I had considered whether the Father wanted me to add some money to the amount sent to me, concluding that He did not. When brother [Name Withheld] called me I sensed the amount he would be sending would perfectly cover the cost of whatever vehicle the Father had in mind for me. Further consideration led me to reflect that since Yahweh inspired brothers to give a specific amount for a specific purpose, the amount would be neither too high, nor too low, but just right.
The man selling the vehicle is a small dealer selling cars from his home in his off hours. His last name is Fischer (allusions to “I will make you fishers of men”). The car had low mileage for its age (123,000 miles). It had a clean CarFax report. No mechanical problems were noted. It had good tires, and it appeared to have been well kept as cosmetically it is in very nice shape. This particular model’s fuel efficiency is rated at 25/31 mpg. This was important to me, as I desire to keep car ownership expenses low.
I considered all these points in favor of the car, particularly that the vehicle had been listed the very day the money you sent was made available to me, for the precise amount you had sent. I prayed again and asked the Father to guide me as I called the seller. I asked Yahweh to show whether this was the car He had chosen for me. I sensed nothing negative when speaking with the seller, and he said his wife would be home at 2:30 P.M. to meet me and handle the paperwork if I decided to purchase the vehicle. I contacted my daughter Kristin who was at work, and she told me that she could take me the 90 minute drive to the seller if I could leave soon. The timing coincided with that which the seller had mentioned, so I could see no roadblocks.
I drove the car and was very impressed with its ride, appearance, and solid feel. It handled like a nearly new car, though it is 12 years old. It is tight, quiet running, and in appearance it was very nice.
My daughter also was impressed with it. In the past I would have dickered on the price, but I looked up the value of the car with the equipment it included and its low mileage, and found that the book value for the car if purchased from a dealer was more than $1,500 more than the asking price. I also found a sales sheet in the glove box that revealed that the seller had originally advertised this car for $1,000 more than he was now asking. Since Yahweh sent me $5,000 to purchase a vehicle, I did not sense that it was right to try to ask the seller to accept less. Yahweh had already done the dickering for me. Below is the sales sheet I found in the glove box.
While the seller’s wife was filling out the paperwork for us in her home, my daughter and I were introduced to their dog, a very cute Toy Poodle. The dog’s name is Moses. Now there is the name of a man who had a ministry to people passing through wilderness experiences.
When I arrived home I checked out all the storage compartments in the car, and in one of them I found some change that amounted to 24 cents (8+8+8).
I very much enjoyed the 90 minute ride back home. The AC blows cold air. The car sounds and runs like a new one. It is a very solid feeling vehicle.
Yahweh truly made a quick work of this. 24 hours after the check you sent arrived in the mail, I was driving home the RAV4 the Father provided for me. I am looking forward to seeing what all the Father has in store. I know He would not give me a vehicle without foreseeing a need for it in my life and ministry. What a great peace I have in knowing that the Father affirmed that He wanted me to have a vehicle once again, and that He did such an extraordinary job in bringing it to pass. There was no striving, only rest on my part. All I had to do was watch what the Father would do.
This morning a brother in Christ stopped by. When he saw the car and discovered what I paid for it, he was amazed that I paid only $5,000 for it. A few minutes later he exclaimed, “RAV - Righteous And Victorious.” I do hope that will be my ultimate end as the Father continues His work of conforming me to the image of His Son.
Thanks for the part YOU played in this work of God!
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