Providence or Chance? My cars from high school to present

The thought of divine providence in those minute details of life frightens me. I want control. If I don’t have control, I am uncomfortable. If God is making decisions and choices for me, I admit, it does not quite comfort me. One would think that I would be pleased to have the God of the universe guiding me. But for some reason I want to utilize free will to its fullest extent, even in such minuscule details as automobiles. As I look back on my life with respect to the cars that I have had, I can’t help but notice something, and maybe you will notice it too as I recount that aspect of my life from high school through the present.

I love Mustangs. Not the planes. Not the wild horses. The cars. I have wanted one for a long time. When I got my license at 16, I drove my dad’s 1995 Pontiac Sunfire. The summer leading into my junior year in high school, I bought a used 1996 Toyota Tacoma Sport. It was decent, but I had my heart set on a Mustang. Due to influence from my parents, I didn’t get what I really wanted. When I had it, the transmission was already replaced even at 46,000 miles. During my ownership, the only problem it had was the left door speaker and the radio was busted. I got both fixed. When I took possession of the truck, the rear bumper was bent, so I had to get that fixed. The only other problem it had, which I never got fixed, was the front bumper was starting to sag before I sold it. No big deal. I had it for two years and sold it right before going to college.

I planned on getting a Mustang, but due to influence from both my girlfriend and my dad at the time, I did not get one. I tried to get a blue Civic SI but settled for a green 1999 Integra GS-R coupe with 56,000 miles. It was in need of a wheel balance and all new rotors, which I got fixed. While I owned this vehicle, which required premium gas, the activator for the power door locks went bad, as did the motor for the retractable antenna. I fixed the activator but not the antenna. Too expensive. I had this car for two years and sold it during college.

I finally got my own Mustang–a 1994 Mustang Cobra SVT–after I sold the Integra. I loved this car. But it wasn’t faster than the Integra when I first got it, which was surprising and dumbfounding. Hey, at least it was rear wheel drive. But it wasn’t faster than the Integra because it lacked sufficient power; it was slower because it was only running on 6 cylinders due to a bad spark plug and a short in another spark plug wire. After switching out the spark plugs and wires and also changing the solenoid, the car came to life as it should. And I had a blast. I only needed to change the rear main seal and the clutch on that car. Did I mention when I bought it the car had 140,000 miles? None of the electronics were bad or went bad. The car ran hard and it was a blast to drive. It was also decent on gas. It had the same mileage as the Tacoma, but it required premium gas. I sold this car to pay for my fiancée’s engagement ring two years later.

My fiancée and I had a 2000 Honda Accord that we relied on when I sold the Cobra. Once I was done with soccer my senior year of college, I was able to acquire my second Mustang–a 1999 Mustang Saleen S281-sc. It had a leak in the rear end assembly, so I got that fixed and had the gears upgraded to 3.55 from 3.08. It was a blast to drive as well! I bought it with 90,000 miles on the odometer. I had this car for 3 years and then sold it when it needed a supercharger rebuild that I could not afford at the time.

Before I sold the Saleen, my wife and I sold our Accord and leased a 2007 Dodge Nitro SLX. Never again will I lease a vehicle. However, this Nitro came with a life time drivetrain warranty, and I later purchased a life time oil change package from the dealership. After our lease was up, we purchased the vehicle.

When we did sell the Saleen, it was not easy. Selling the Tacoma was not too difficult. It took a newspaper advertisement. Selling the Integra was not so easy. It took a couple of AutoTrader advertisements. Selling the Cobra was easy on AutoTrader. Selling the Saleen, well, took several attempts on Craigslist. The first attempt led to one potential buyer who was low balling us pretty bad. We didn’t go for it because we still would have owed on our financed balance. I looked into trade in options, but the dealership wouldn’t recognize the Saleen label and only offered us what a regular Mustang GT would appraise at. We tried again with Craigslist, and this time we got our buyer. Long story short, during the test drive the AC clutch seized, but the buyer and I had already agreed to make the deal for $14,000. He gave me $500 cash deposit, reaffirmed the same purchase price, and promised to pay half of the repair costs. While the car was at Ford for the repairs, he called me up and said that when we negotiated the price, I should have countered his offer of $14,000 with $14,500; since I didn’t, he said it was only right that he should pay $14,500, so he himself changed the agreed upon purchase price to $14,500 in addition to paying half the cost of the repairs. He followed through with his promise.

My wife and I immediately went from the bank where we sold the Saleen to the wonderful guy straight to the Toyota dealership. We purchased a brand new 2009 Toyota Corolla S with 1 mile on the odometer. We had the car upgraded with leather interior. It came with bluetooth and a nice JBL sound system. It was a nice car. We just now sold it. We have had it for 3 years. It’s been a pain. While being nice in appearance and sound, it has also had its share of engine issues. Fortunately for us, the warranty covered those issues. Since the warranty is nearly up, because we have put on 50,000 miles in those 3 years, we felt it was only right to get rid of it while it is still worth something. We tried Craigslist, but we were getting low balled again. We went to Carmax to sell the car, and we got the Kelley Blue Book trade in value for it, which was still higher than what we were offered from some on Craigslist.

We are now down to one car. Can a married couple with one child make due with one car when they live in the suburbs? Well, we can make due. I work from home, so we really only need one car most of the time. And now that we are down to one car, we now only have half the car expenses. We are left with the Nitro, which does not get as good of a gas mileage as the Toyota, but it has unlimited oil changes and a life time warranty on the drivetrain. Let’s not forget that the Nitro has a DVD player and a nice Infinity sound system. It also has a bluetooth setup that we had installed when we converted from lease to purchase last summer, and it is a better bluetooth than the one we had in the Corolla both in sound quality and options. However, the Nitro’s windshield wipers have stopped working. Dodge tells us it is because the computer’s module that controls the wipers has gone bad. We don’t have an extended warranty on it, so we have to get that fixed soon. But now we can, because we have gotten rid of the Corolla, which puts some extra money in our pockets to be able to afford fixing the wipers, and, hopefully, purchase an extended warranty.

Throughout all of these cars, did you notice what I noticed? Did you see what I saw? I may not be comfortable with divine providence in those minuscule details of life, such as automobiles, and while I thought that I was in control of those situations buying, selling, and repairing these vehicles, it seems that God was at work even in those situations. Were they predestined? I’m not saying they were. I am saying that in retrospect it does appear God was sovereign even in my financial decisions. It was not by chance, for instance, that my first attempt to sell my Saleen on Craigslist didn’t work out. I was ready to sell, but, perhaps, the eventual buyer was not ready to purchase. It was not by chance that I was influenced not to buy a Mustang when I ended up buying a Tacoma and then an Integra. Had I bought one, I may not have obtained the Cobra, which was a really awesome car. To me, it seems that divine providence was involved in my life, even with my automobiles.

So, God has been faithful to help provide and sell our automobiles. It seems that he works with our free will to choose, but how that works I do not know. It feels like I am in control while I am going through and making decisions, but when I look back in life I can see God’s providence in those situations. I love Mustangs, but a Mustang is not what my family currently needs. God has helped provide us with a car that is reliable, affordable, and versatile. He has helped us financially along the way to acquire and sell as appropriate, not only to give us our essential needs but also the desires of our heart. Minuscule details matter to God when they matter to His children. Those minute matters that are important to His children are also important to God. Jehovah Jireh seeks to provide essentials and desires. I can see in my life that God has done and continues to do just that. While I am not saying that God will give us anything and everything that we want, it does appear to me that in this particular situation God helped me to obtain two Mustangs and to use them for a short while, for which I am thankful.

Do you think divine providence extends into matters of life such as automobiles? Do you find that God is looking to provide what you need and also what you want? Is it by chance that we buy and sell our cars, or is God at work even in those situations?