The unique ways God shows up when we trust Him.
by Denise E. Arzoian
Some people see God in a sunset. Others, in the eyes of a child.
Me? I see God in a ’98 Buick.
Our daughter, Jennifer, was married with three children when we started noticing some alarming behavior in her. She would leave home for hours at a time, so her kids had no supervision. She began staying up nights for hours, then would miss work the next day.
Unsavory-looking men and women would show up at her home for no explainable reason. None of this was typical for our girl.
We were horrified to discover that Jennifer’s recent change in behavior was the result of an addiction to methamphetamines, better known as crystal meth.
We tried to get her help. She refused. “I can do it alone, Mom.” She didn’t.
I watched this deadly drug slowly dismantle Jennifer’s life. Over several months, she lost her car, her husband, her job, her home, and eventually, her children.
Drugs and crime go hand in hand, and over the next few months, Jennifer ended up in jail. I prayed endlessly for God to open her eyes to see what she was doing to herself and to those around her. I prayed that He would deliver her, heal her, and restore her.
I searched the Scriptures, reminding myself that children are a gift from God: “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward” (Psalm 127:3).
I also read, “All your children shall be taught by the Lord, and great shall be the peace of your children” (Isaiah 54:13). Somehow, the promises I saw in God’s Word did not line up with what I saw happening in my daughter’s life.
My prayers for her eventually ended. What more could I pray? I began to feel hopeless that the situation would ever get better. My prayers didn’t seem to make a difference.
Direction from God
One day, I was helping a friend pack to move to another state. She took a book off the shelf and held it for several minutes before turning to me. “Denise, I hope you won’t be offended, but I feel like this book is for you.”
The title was Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter, by Janet Thompson. Immediately, hope rose in me that God was directing me in my discouragement.
As I read through the book, I realized I needed to relinquish every dream I had for Jennifer. I was reminded that she was God’s child too.
I placed every ounce of control I thought I had at the foot of the cross. I was directed to continue my prayers, but the tone of them changed from desperate to thankful. I began thanking God for being faithful to His Word and His child.
“Mom, when I was in jail, a lady came to visit from the local church. She prayed with me, and it was as if she knew my past and everything I had done leading to this point. She said God was waiting for me with open arms. I just had to accept the free gift of His love and forgiveness. Right there in the jail, I knelt down and handed Him my broken life. He’s been helping me to heal and grow closer to Him ever since.”
After several months with no communication from our daughter, the phone rang one day. Jennifer was calling from a treatment facility. She had already been through two drug programs and failed. But this time, something was different. I could hear it in her words.
I wanted to believe that. I feared getting my hopes up, but I knew I could not place my faith in my daughter. I had to place my faith in my heavenly Father.
The road back was long and difficult. Jennifer moved home, and every step of the way pulled her out of the pit she had dug for herself. She couldn’t get a job without a driver’s license, and she couldn’t get a driver’s license without a birth certificate. She lost all that in the nonsense of her drug-induced lifestyle.
Yet with every hurdle she faced, Jenn displayed the joy of the Lord and an intense gratefulness for God’s love and grace. She began going to church with us and growing spiritually.
We saw every area of her life flourish. She would often say, “There’s a difference between getting clean and getting delivered. Thank You, Lord. I was delivered!”
Eventually, Jennifer got a job and went back to school. She felt so passionately for other women who had been deceived by drugs that her ultimate goal was to become a drug and alcohol counselor. She asked me to partner with her in prayer, asking God that if that was His will for her, He would make a way.
One day, Jennifer called with excitement in her voice. “Mom, I got a job at Westcare! It’s just an entry-level position, but it’s a start while I continue my education. Isn’t that just like God?”
Finding work at Westcare meant that Jennifer would be working at the same facility where she began her recovery.
But her excitement waned when she learned that she would be working the night shift, getting off at midnight. There was no public transportation after 11:00 p.m. My husband and I had exhausted our resources to help her, so getting her a car was not possible.
I was still working forty hours a week, getting up at 5:00 a.m. I knew I would have to pick Jennifer up and hope I could get enough sleep to go to my own job. Still, I was determined that if this was her only option, God would give me the strength to make it work for her.
The next week at church, we met for our Bible class. When the leader asked for prayer requests, Jennifer immediately raised her hand.
“I would like to share a praise for what God has done for me,” Jennifer said. She told them about the job at Westcare. “Please pray with me that if this is God’s will, He will provide a means of transportation.” My heart warmed as I watched my girl put her faith in God.
Before the class was over, Sandy, one of the members, asked if she could talk to Jennifer after church. “My husband and I just completed the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University course. As a result, we were able to purchase a new car and pay cash for it. We have been asking God to direct us to the person we should gift our old car to. It’s still in great running condition, and we believe God wants you to have it.”
The tears flowed freely as Jennifer saw, once again, the personal way God was working in her life, meeting every need.
“I don’t know what to say,” Jennifer replied. She shook her head, overwhelmed at His perfect timing. “I can’t thank you enough.”
“You don’t have to say anything,” Sandy said, smiling. “Use it for the glory of God.”
Sandy and Larry took Jennifer to the DMV the next day to get the title put in her name. It was a ‘98 Buick Skylark, in excellent condition. They even kept all the records of oil changes and repairs in a special notebook.
“Mom,” she told me later, “Sandy and Larry charged me $50 and paid the DMV fee. After I drove home, I opened the glove box, and there was my $50 bill.”
Twelve years have passed since Jennifer gave her heart to the Lord. She went on the get her bachelor’s degree and continues to work at Westcare, counseling women in addiction and advocating for them with Child Protective Services. She has watched as God restored her relationship with her children, her most heartfelt desire.
Through it all, the ’98 Buick, which she lovingly named Grace, chugged right along. It got her back and forth to work faithfully for eight years. In time, Grace needed major repairs that would not be cost-effective to fix.
Last year, Jennifer purchased a new car of her own. We both cried as Grace was towed away. The car had been a reminder of the beautiful way God used it to provide for her.
I will miss pulling into Jennifer’s driveway and seeing God in that Buick. But now I see God in her, and for that I will be forever grateful.
Scripture quotations are from the New King James Version.
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