Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Ask Me

From the time I was 15 until almost 18, I lived with my Aunt and Uncle in the Dallas area. I moved to Dallas from New York because my parents had died. Also living with us was my Aunt's mother, a woman by the name of Silvey Harris. Silvey died last year. She had lived a long, sometimes hard, but good life.

Silvey was a tough woman, with simple, hard working values. She was probably in her late 60's when I met her, but at the time appeared to me to be much older. A life of hard work will do that to you. However she was always puttering around the house, wanting to do things. Taking care of plants, washing dishes, doing laundry...etc. I aggravated her a great deal because she would always ask if there was something she could do for me, and I'd invariably say, "No, I'm fine."

As she got older...okay, as we both got older, she'd often say, "Mike, your brothers would always let me do things for them when you boys were younger, but never did want anybody doin' anything for ya"

Silvey wasn't an educated woman...but she was a perceptive one.

I'm still that way. I find it very hard to accept help, much less to ask for it.

One of the things that Amy and I decided to do some time ago was to sell her van - she doesn't really drive anymore. Once again, life got in the way...and I put that on the back burner. I placed a newspaper ad, but got no serious response, and I used a freebie through my company to list the van with an on-line service. No one called....not one person.

Yesterday, as part of my financial frenzy, I decided to get serious about it. I went around to a couple of car lots knowing they wouldn't offer me anywhere near what the van was worth, but I thought if someone offered me enough I might, considering our circumstances, simply take it and be grateful. I ended up not liking the offers - or the used car dealers for that matter.

Early today I sent out an email to the church family. I asked for help. It's still difficult for me to do, but I felt I needed advice from someone who had more experience in selling cars. I wasn't looking for someone in the church to buy the van - in fact I said I wouldn't even consider that - I was only asking for guidance if one of my fellow church members had any in matters such as these.

I also said a prayer asking God for help. I asked He help me find someone who could really use this vehicle.

Amy and I don't need a 7 passenger cargo van. A family, with little kids and a tight budget needs this van.

I came home from the hospital today and one of the church Elders called me and said he had a friend who had helped him sell some cars, and might be willing to work with us. I felt relieved not only for his assistance, but also that I had finally asked someone for help.

He told me he'd contact his friend.

Moments later I called him back and asked him to wait.

You see our answering machine had a message from a woman who lives not too far away. Her husband had seen that on line ad that's been running for months and they wondered if the van was still available.

We made arrangements for them to come over. They arrived in a tiny little car...two parents, three very small children. They've got a tight budget and a big need. We drove the van around and I could tell the Mom was dreaming of having room for the kids and working air conditioning. They asked if there was any way they could take the van to their mechanic...I insisted that they do that. They left me a deposit, their other car, and their keys...not only to their car but to their house. I finally had to literally say, "We're going to have to do some of this on faith...I believe you'll come back with the van."

Then came the serious talk about the price. I had listed the van at $4200.00 in the ad, which is 400 below blue book value already and that's if I compromised on the low side when it came to the condition of the vehicle. Despite that I said I'd drop the price for them by 500 dollars more.

I could tell right away that was still more than they had and they readily admitted it. The mother said, "If the van checks out, I can give you $3000 dollars tomorrow....but I can't pay the other 700 right away...not until my husband's next paycheck in two weeks. Is there any way?"

I laughed. I laughed and said, "All you have to do is ask."

They drove away in the van, tomorrow they'll take it to the mechanic and we'll see if it works out. I certainly hope it does...but even if it doesn't....even if their mechanic says, "Don't buy this van"....I still hope people will ask me to tell them this story...again and again.

I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread. - Psalm 37:25