“To obey is better than to sacrifice.” I Samuel 15:22
I was serving a church in Atlanta and we desperately needed a new car. Ruth and I prayed individually about an amount we felt we could handle in a car payment, and God gave us both the EXACT SAME NUMBER! So, we went shopping, and found the perfect car in the price range we had agreed upon. The car salesman was a bit pushy, and told us “For just FOUR DOLLARS A MONTH MORE, we can put you in the upgraded model…leather seats, sunroof, great sound system…WOW”!!! So we took the upgrade!
We picked the car up on a Friday morning, and I had to immediately go out of town on business. I returned on Saturday evening, and the next morning proudly drove our new car to church. It was on the drive in to church that I began to have a nagging thought, “God gave us both the exact same number but we went higher than that to get a fancier car!” As I left church that morning, I saw a member of our church orchestra leaving the parking lot….in a car that had four different colored fenders. I quickly slipped into a hidden parking space so he couldn’t see my new car, and after he left the lot, I pulled out and drove home. For the next three days I was miserable. I knew that we had violated the direction God had clearly given both of us, and I know that the reason was pride. By Wednesday morning I couldn’t stand the fact that we had not totally obeyed God’s direction. I went to a top floor church classroom, knelt by the window and confessed that pride had caused me to be disobedient. I got up from the window, went to my office and called the car salesman. “I bought the wrong car!” I hastily confessed. “We need to trade you for the first car you showed us.” “Oh man, It is far too late for that!” he replied.” Once the paper work goes in, it is out of our hands!” “Please check”, I begged him. In a moment he came back on the phone. “I can’t believe this!” he exclaimed! “The paper work is STILL ON MY DESK! It should have been sent to finance on Saturday! Come on over and we will switch cars for you!”
What was the lesson I needed to learn? Four dollars a month isn’t a lot of money, but that is totally beside the point. God had given us very clear direction, and we had violated what we knew to be the correct choice in order to have more than God intended at that point that we have. We ended up happily putting over 130,000 miles on the less expensive car, knowing that we FINALLY had made the purchase with an obedient spirit….not partially, but completely.