Fourth Sunday of Advent: Stunned

By Cami Haley

Advent Devotional | December 19, 2021

Then I thought, “To this I will appeal:
the years when the Most High stretched out his right hand.
I will remember the deeds of the Lord;
yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.
I will consider all your works
and meditate on all your mighty deeds.”

Your ways, God, are holy.
What god is as great as our God?
You are the God who performs miracles;
you display your power among the peoples.
With your mighty arm you redeemed your people,
the descendants of Jacob and Joseph.

—Psalm 77:10-15 (Read Psalm 77)

My head was down as I stepped off the porch and jogged the five steps down to the sidewalk. I scanned Green Street. Where did Taylor park the van?

I frowned at the unruly yellow bricks of the dead-end street where our light blue Chevy minivan usually spent the night. Where’s our van? That’s weird.

Taking a few steps to get a better look past the scraggly tree-of-heaven on the corner, I was able to look all the way down Mifflin Street. Left, then right. Left again.

No van.

I went back into the house. “Taylor!” I called up the stairs with an edge of annoyance, “Where’d you park the van? We’re gonna be late to pick up the Phelps!”

By now, our three kids were on the porch, jackets and backpacks in place. Today was the first day of practice for the annual Spring Production at Pittsburgh Urban Christian School—a pretty important day for a 4th grader. Jessica had rallied her little brothers this morning to make sure we would be on time.

“It should be right there—around the corner.”

The words were barely out of his mouth as he stepped past me and onto the porch to look for himself. When he turned around, I could see his frown. Reality set in.

Our van was gone.

Stunned and confused, with our routine out of sorts, I put all of my motherly morning managerial skills to work. I called Melody to see if she could drive the carpool, then Tracie to let her know that I wasn't going to be able to make it to Mom’s Time at church.

Taylor and I spent the next couple hours waiting for the police, then providing the necessary detail and documentation for them to complete their report. Apparently, our elderly minivan—our only vehicle—had been stolen. Car seat and all.

Won’t our church family wag their heads when they hear? Isn’t this the reason eyebrows raise when we say we live on Green Street in Wilkinsburg? How are we going to manage until we can scrape some extra money together or get an insurance payment?

The questions kept coming. We felt defeated by this unexpected expense and inconvenience. We were overwhelmed at the prospect of having to purchase another vehicle without time to find a deal and haggle over a price. It was a long and stressful day.

Then, right before dinnertime, our doorbell rang.

It was Mark, Tracie’s husband. Mark and Tracie had recently moved to Pittsburgh with their two small children to accelerate Mark’s work in the field of neonatal surgery. Behind Mark we could see Tracie, sitting in the driver’s side of their Expedition, with Marky and Olivia in the back seat, smiling and waving.

Mark explained, “Tracie told me that your car was stolen. We thought we would drive over and loan you a car until you get yours back.”

Over Mark’s shoulder, we could see their shiny black Volvo parked on the street. Did he mean they were loaning us the Volvo? This was terrifying! We couldn’t have a nice car like that parked outside our home in Wilkinsburg and promise to keep it safe. What if something happened to it?

Mark assured us that he was not worried, and they did not need this car right now. He so willingly administered God’s grace to us that we nodded, shocked and grateful. He handed over the keys and drove away.

A few weeks later, our van was found by the police. It was vandalized, the interior spray painted, and according to the claims specialist, it was totalled. Thankfully, we had insurance that helped us buy another new-to-us vehicle, which we quickly named “Brown Sugar” because of the brown ceiling foam that crumbled down on our heads when we bumped the no-longer-fabric-covered headliner.

Mark and Tracie shared their Volvo for the entire time that we were in need. When we handed back the keys three weeks later, we were still stunned by God’s grace to our family through the generosity of God’s people. We have never forgotten.

God was faithful yesterday. God is faithful today. And during this Advent season, we await the coming of the One who is trustworthy, knowing that God will remain faithful to all generations.

—Cami Haley serves the CCO as Support Raising Ministry Coordinator. She also works as a Registered Nurse, Inpatient Rehabilitation.