In college, God started really speaking to me about personal finance (or more accurately, I started really listening). From an often misinterpreted verse in the gospel of Matthew to an old, red Mitsubishi, I learned lessons about money I (and I hope, YOU) will never forget!
0:44 Hi, I’m Alexis and welcome to That Makes Total Sense! So I’m super excited about this episode because you know that here on the podcast we talk about faith, finance and everyday life in a way that makes total sense and this episode has all three of these wrapped up into one. Now for this episode, we’re going to have to go way back to the early two thousands when I was in college. But this story that I’m getting ready to tell you really encompasses, when God radically changed my perspective on finances. He just took everything I knew, every paradigm I tried to live inside, and completely threw me for a loop. It was like I got whiplash living this story out, but in a good way, because here is what He did: He gave me a car! And this is the thing, like, I don’t know if you guys were that generation like me were like, you’re home during the summertime, and you just watch The Price is Right? And that was like the best part of The Price is Right, is everybody wants to see who’s going to win the car or! Or they pull the curtain up and boom, there it is! It’s a car! Now granted, I’m going to give you a little spoiler alert: this was not a brand new car. And I think the reasoning behind that is because He’s a really good Daddy. And He knew I did not need, I could not handle a brand new car. But He gave me a car nonetheless. It was a new car to me and I was ecstatic! He really got my attention. And I hope that this story, even though it’s 15, almost 20 years old, will really grab your attention too. And you can see just how amazing He is, how He uses His goodness to teach us things. And maybe we can learn something about money together.
So here’s what happened. This is back, like I said, I was a junior in college and I was engaged to, my now husband Seth, who by the way produces this podcast for me. Yay. Seth also wrote and performed the musical intro, just so you know. So I was engaged to Seth and I was driving a pretty cool car. I mean, it was a car that, honestly, it was newer, probably newer than any car I still have owned to this day. And I had absolutely no business driving this vehicle. I had payments on it, but not only that, they were payments that I really could not afford at the time, even though they were low comparatively, I still could not afford these payments. There was really nothing about this car that was okay for me to have, but I struggled to keep it up.
I have been known to have a stubborn streak. I’m probably the only one out there, but I was really struggling to maintain this vehicle and I really had no business doing it. Well, in the meantime, God was calling me and my husband, and my future husband, and a group of friends of ours to go on our very, very first or my very, very first overseas mission trip to Israel. And it was going to be amazing! But it was really expensive and we were having to write letters and raise money and earn money to go on this trip. Now, here’s where I want to pause for just a minute and say, I fully endorse this kind of fundraising. We have since then been able to help other young people go on overseas mission trips. I think it’s a beautiful thing. I think it’s a wonderful thing. I think it’s a great way for their community to get involved in their mission, not just financially, but prayerfully. I fully support it. I love it. However, in that moment, God used that exact thing to convict me about money. Specifically, I heard him tell me in my heart, if you didn’t have that car payment, how much of this trip could you pay for on your own without having to fundraise? Now that really got my attention because we were maybe six months or more out from the trip. When you told me that, and I’m kind of an arithmetic nerd and of course you don’t really have to be, I started doing the numbers in my head and I thought – Wow, I could actually pay for a lot of this trip on my own if I didn’t have these car payments, if I didn’t have this money going out every month.
And so I want to say, I said, “yes Sir,” and I immediately acted and everything was fine. Kind of, not really. I kind of started wrestling with God about this just a bit and He showed me a scripture that we all probably know by heart. Many of us probably know it by heart and it’s from Matthew. Specifically, Matthew 6:21 and that verse says, “For where your treasure is there will your heart be also.” That’s, that’s the version I learned “there will your heart be also”, and I had always understood this verse to mean when something is really important to you in your heart, then you will put your money there. You will fund it, for example. So if your family is super important, then obviously you will by nature kind of throw your money towards your family. If your church is something that’s super important to you in your heart, close to your heart, then you will start to pour your money into your church. If it’s education or if it’s, you know, whatever it is, if something is in your heart and you’re really passionate about it, then you’ll start to pour your money in that direction.
But He showed me, and it’s clear how it’s written, but it wasn’t clear to me in my head or in my heart. He told me – Alexis, you have this verse, this scripture, this concept backwards. Read it again.
Okay. “For where your treasure is there, will your heart be also.” Oh, it hit me! Where my money already is…my heart is going to be there! My heart is going to follow my money, not the other way around.
My heart is going to follow my money, not the other way around.
And so He showed me that I was putting money into this car every single month and every month that I did that I was becoming more and more emotionally attached to this vehicle. And I don’t know if that makes sense to everyone, but it totally made sense to me at the time, specifically when He started to show me – you’re putting money toward this car every single month. While you’re doing that, your heart is becoming more attached to this car every single month. Your emotions are becoming more attached to this car every single month. But I’ve called you over here, I’ve called you to take a mission trip. If your money was free to go to this mission trip, your heart would go there. Wow. That was hard to hear. So I prayed, I talked to God some more. And then I went to Seth and I was crying. I was crying at this point and I told him, “I really think God is asking me to sell my car.” And of course I felt ridiculous. I was crying. I was crying because I was emotionally attached to the car. But I was also crying because I knew God was doing something new in me. So, even though I felt silly, I went to Seth and I said, “Oh, I really think God is calling me to sell this car.” And he really didn’t skip a beat. He said, “I think you’re right on. I wasn’t gonna push you in this, but now that you’ve said it, let’s go. Let’s do it.” So we set out to sell this car.
Now I was broke. The reason I had no business owning this car is because I was already broke and now I was just broke with a car payment. So I thought, how am I going to do this? Well, one of my girlfriends, I think at the time pointed out to me that there was one of the local papers, like you know, kind of one of those freebie papers that you can pick up at a restaurant or on the corner in a college town, those kinds of things. She said, “Hey, this paper is running a promotion and they’re running free car want-ads.” Okay, so let me pause for a minute. So for those of you listening who are not my generation, I’m going to say those of you who are listening, who maybe have a two in the tens place. You’re in your 20s, there used to be actual papers that you could hold. And in these local papers, not like you know, the New York times or something, but in these local papers we used to place classified ads and we could sell things in the paper, everything from real estate to advertise and garage sales. And yes, we could sell cars in the paper. And so I went to the website for this paper and emailed them my ad. I hadn’t heard of the paper before. And so I typed up an ad, you know, confirmed that yes, they were doing free car ads, you know, car classifieds and I typed up and add bold, all caps, CHRISTIAN STUDENT MUST SELL VEHICLE. And then, you know, I gave the specs. I don’t even remember if I put the price. But I put everything that I needed to in there and it got published.
Now this was a really interesting time for me in my faith journey because God was growing me, not just when it came to money, but he was growing me in a lot of areas. And one of the areas He was growing me was prayer. And so I had some friends at the time who were amazing, and one of them told me, “I think you need to pray for favor regarding this car situation.” Because by this point my friends knew what was happening. I had kind of told them slightly out of desperation I think. And we were all in this together. And so I had one of my friends tell me, you need to pray for favor when it comes to this car situation. I said, okay. I had no idea what that meant, but I trusted this friend and I started praying for favor. Well then we had someone else tell us, “Hey, I think you should pray really specifically about this.” Now I have heard lots of things about this and, and I am here to tell you, and you know this, we can’t tell God what to do, but He does, I believe, like it when we go to Him specifically with what we want. He may answer with a no, but it doesn’t hurt to ask. And so I, He was teaching me about prayer then Seth and I began to pray very, very specifically for certain things for this vehicle. One of those things was that within the first five inquiries that we would sell this car. So within the first five, now I’ll let you know. We thought that meant it would sell quickly because we were asking for it to be within the first five. But instead what happened was people, almost no one responded. Like we were counting these, you know, one, two, three. But we were like, no one’s responding. What’s going on? Seth kept saying, we’re on a college campus at a major university, this is like a sorority girl dream car. Why is no one responding? This doesn’t even make sense. Well, we didn’t get pray for a specific timeline. We prayed for a specific number of responses for this to sell. So that was really interesting.
So the fifth response comes, yes, you heard me correctly. The fifth response comes, they’ve been slow to trickle in. And this fifth response comes and I’m very intrigued because when I start to talk to the woman, she says that they found this newspaper on the table at a restaurant where they had been eating. And she said, I almost didn’t even open it because I know that this paper is kind of one of the most wild liberal papers in town. And I just thought, I don’t even want to read what they have to say today. And then I open it up and it says, “Christian student must sell vehicle.” And I then I just was cracking up. I thought, I had no idea. They ran it, they ran it. They were completely true to their word, ran this free car ad with “Christian student must sell vehicle.” So, and the other thing that was crazy about this was that she and her husband had been looking at this exact make and model of vehicle because their good friend who just happened to be at dinner with them had just purchased the same car and he loved it. So I’m like, okay, this is weird. So we get together, they test drive the car. It’s great. And I noticed, we noticed that she has this little Mitsubishi, so a few days pass, they decide they want to purchase the car.
We get together, we’re getting ready to meet them at the bank so that they can do all of their paperwork. We can do all of the exchanges and give them the car. So we had met at the bank to sign paperwork then we were, everything was a done deal, but we were going to have to drive back to my apartment for them to get the vehicle and Seth says, “I wonder what they’re going to do with that car.” Because you see, we were trying to figure out what in the world am I going to drive. I was selling them my car, but we really hadn’t gone that far ahead. We didn’t really know. There wasn’t much we could afford and we didn’t know what I was going to drive. We just knew this was step one, sell this car. So the deal is done at the bank.
We’re driving back to my apartment and Seth says, “Hey, I’m wondering what they’re going to do with her little car.” And I’m like, “I have no idea.” And he said, “well, you know, it’s kind of older, paint job’s not great. I mean, I bet you it looks like something we might be able to afford.” And I’m like, “yeah, maybe.” So kind of like, what do you want me to do about it. And he says, “I think we should pray.”
So we pray on the way to my apartment. And I honestly don’t even remember what we prayed. But we get there, we’re, we’re getting ready to get out. And he says, “I think you should ask her about that car.” “Well, what am I supposed to say?” is what I tell him. “What am I supposed to say?” And he says, “I don’t know, just say anything.”
So I go up to her and I, I said, “Hey, um, you know, do you guys know what you’re gonna do with your car?” And she whips her head around and she says, “Why are you asking me that?” And it scared me, honestly. And I kind of stumbled over my words. “I don’t know really. I just, I mean I, I just, I was asking cause I were selling…” I felt like this stutter come on. And she said, “I will tell you that about a month ago,” and it was the same time frame that God was telling me to sell my car, by the way. She said, “it was about a month ago, God told me I was supposed to give my car to someone, but I had no idea who I was supposed to give it to you. When we saw you,” she says, “the first time when we were looking at the car, I thought it was you, but I wasn’t sure.” She said, “So I prayed today that if you said one word to me about this vehicle, that that would be a signal to me from God that you are the person I’m supposed to give it to and I would give it to you.” And I’m like, “What?!?” And she kind of repeated her story and she said, “So I’m giving you my car.”
What in the world. I am here to tell you I am only 5’3″ but I jumped! I felt like an NBA player that day. I almost jumped out of my skin. She just gave me a car. Are you kidding me?!? God gave me a car! She gave me a car and the crazy thing was yes, she was picking up my car. Yes, God had told her to do that. She was emotionally ready to do it. She was spiritually ready to do it. But I can tell you she wasn’t exactly physically ready to do it. She asked me, “Hey, do you have any like grocery bags that I can have to clean my stuff out of the car?” Again, dating myself, you know, she had to get not just her gym clothes and stuff like that, but like her CDs. Okay, let’s just, let’s just be real. And so she, she cleaned her car out and she literally handed me the keys and gave her car to me that day! This is incredible. This was absolutely incredible.
I could go on and on and tell you the things that God taught me in that moment. Things that He continues to teach me as I tell and retell this story. But one of the things I learned from Him is that He’s good. That’s the overarching lesson is that He’s so good. He knew I had made a mistake, but He didn’t chastise me. Instead, He taught me obedience and honestly He taught me in a super fun way. I mean, who gets to obey and then gets a car? I mean, this is crazy and it doesn’t happen every time I obey, obviously. And it doesn’t happen every time He wants to teach me something, but this time it did. And it was just so incredible and so merciful of God to do things that way. Now, I will tell you a little bit about this car just because I still get a little bit sad when I think about the fact that she’s no longer with us. But this was a mid 1990s red Mitsubishi Eclipse. This was like I said in the early two thousands, the paint was a little worn on my car. And the thing that I think Seth and I both remember most this car is, it had no power steering at all. Like it wasn’t that, it was just out of fluid. I think that that’s just how this model was built. It had no power steering. It had, Oh, what did we, what did we call it? We used to call it sports suspension steering. I have no idea, but I can tell you that this woman had some big guns when she was driving this car. It was also a manual stick shift. It had no cup holders, and so that was fun. And I drove this through the rest of my college career and early on when I was doing state social work and driving all over the county every day, sometimes to different parts of the state, I took this car and in fact I was in this vehicle on a social work trip driving back to my office when it literally blew something off of the back of it and just blew up on the side of the highway. So thankfully I was safe. Everyone was safe. But there was a loud bang, there was smoke and she did not make it past that point. We had to call Pull-a-part. It was a sad day. Don’t make me talk about anymore. But, she lasted four years with us and obviously I got married after we had gotten that car. And it was just so precious to me and I will never forget this story. I will never forget that car because God just, He just showed me that He can do miracles, that He can do miracles. He taught me about favor. He taught me about prayer. He taught me about money. He taught me about priorities. He just taught me about life. As a, as a young 20, 21 year old girl. So I hope that this story ministered to you.
Thank you for letting me reminisce that I always love sharing that story because it just meant so much to me. It’s such an incredible story. It’s, it’s so amazing to talk about God’s goodness about what he does. There is power in reliving the good, good things that he does.
So thank you again so much for listening. Don’t forget to subscribe so you won’t an episode. Share the link with your friends. You can visit us at thatmakestotalsense.com and until next time, this is Alexis Busetti, remembering to do well for ourselves so we can do good for others.