It was cold?and getting colder by the day. Each morning the windshield of the car was frosted over. At sunset little puddles in the parking lot of the supermarket turned to ice.
Moving from sunny southern California to Denver in the summer of 1981 had been a relatively smooth transition. But as the leaves turned golden in the fall, it was clear that our two growing daughters would need heavy clothing for the Colorado winter.
My hectic study and work schedule didn?t allow me the luxury of crafting garments for them. Multiple brief excursions were made to the shopping malls looking for coats for the girls. Each time we began with enthusiasm. Each time we returned with growing frustration, unable to find anything that fit them and the extremely tight family budget.
Snow fell. I could delay no longer. So we left home early one Sunday afternoon and drove to a Kmart south of the city. There in the children?s clothing were the perfect all-weather coats?sky blue in color, lined with removable flannel, and just one of each size needed by the girls. One glance at the price tag, though, and my relief turned to total frustration. Both girls needed a coat, but I had only enough money to purchase one.
An exhaustive search revealed no other options. Near tears, we left and drove to the local Target store. This time there was absolutely nothing that fit.
?What should I do, Lord?? I prayed silently. ?This is not a want; this truly is a need!?
The reality of our changed circumstances was starkly evident in so many ways. Months before, we had sought God?s leading in this career change. Nagging uncertainty mushroomed suddenly into a menacing cloud of doubt. My inner dialogue continued: ?God, was it really Your will that we come to the Mile-High City? Did I want to come to this research center so badly that I misread Your leading??
On the way home we passed the Kmart again. On an impulse I swung the car into the parking lot. The girls chided me for the useless detour.
We sat in the car and talked to God about our dilemma. In spite of scanty resources, we had continued to pay a faithful tithe. We claimed God?s promise in Malachi: ??Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,? says the Lord Almighty, ?and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it?? (Malachi 3:10).
Now what could and would God do for us?
As we passed through the double doors into the store, a voice on the speaker system announced a ?new special? in the children?s department. It took just seconds to find the flashing blue light. There was only one item of clothing on sale?the very coats we had selected two hours previously! ?Two coats for the price of one? was the Blue-Light Special.
The garments still hung exactly as we had left them. Grabbing them, we raced to the checkout line. Even the cashier was amazed by our bargain. By the time our purchase was completed, the sale was over! In the space of five minutes our dilemma was solved. We marveled at God?s amazing providence and incredible timing.
Through the intervening years the ?miracle of the two blue coats? has been a source of reassurance, comfort, and courage. In times of personal and professional perplexity I have remembered that God knows the details of my life and times. He still seems to wait until this disciple is completely aware of her extremity, and then and only then does He demonstrate His awesome love and caring.
Does God answer prayer? Absolutely! It may be with a ?yes? or a ?no? or sometimes with a ?wait a while.?
Does God bless us when we return a tithe to Him? Absolutely! Two blue coats are evidence of that.
B. Lyn Behrens is president of Loma Linda University in Loma Linda, California.