Saturday mornings were never boring for Bill Philips. While other college students slept in late, he usually hung out with his buddies at the basketball court. It was the peak of his week. He always looked forward to it.
Then why did he feel so weird about going there today?
His phone beeped. It was Carl. “Hey, Billy-O!” Carl yelled into the phone. “Ready to get knocked out … again?”
“Had a great night, Carl. Thanks for asking.” Bill said, smirking at his own sarcasm.
The truth was, he hadn’t had a great night. He had not been well-rested after a week full of tests and projects in school and meetings down at the Youth Group in Chapel. He wasn’t sure, but he was almost certain he’d dreamed that the courts were invaded by an alien army. Perhaps he had watched too many reruns of The Avengers. Awkward.
“So, what’s the deal?” Carl asked. “You comin’ or what?”
Bill winced. “Of course I am.”
Why do I feel so guilty about going? He wondered. OK, Lord, I’m late. I’ll have my time with You when I get back, OK?
Besides, when have I ever let You down?
OK, please don’t answer that last bit.
“There’s loads of people here already,” Carl was saying. “If you don’t make it on time we’re gonna lose our spot—”
“Dude, I’m on my way. OK?” He wouldn’t let some bad feeling keep him from the courts that morning. It may just have been from that late night burrito. Go figure.
He washed up, lugged his bag and hurried over to the parking lot. Mr. Jenner was already out, mowing his lawn across the street. He waved at Mr. Jenner.
The man stopped to stretch his back. “Shouldn’t expect a storm anytime today, should we Billy?”
He was already putting his bag in the trunk. “No. Don’t think so, sir.”
Mr. Jenner turned his mower off. “Yeah. Just be careful out there, sonny.”
Bill stopped. “Sir?” Why did he have to say that today, of all days?
Bill tried to tell himself it was just a coincidence.
Jenner shook his head. “Just a feeling. Just a feeling.”
Bill smiled and waved as he drove off.
Phew! He turned on the radio.
O, come on, Lord! You can’t mean it’s wrong to shoot hoops on a Saturday morning. I’ve been looking forward to this all week.
And Lord, there’ll be inner city kids out there. We could witness to them there too…
He pulled into another street as some guy with a deep voice was advertising a cereal on the air. “…and if it ain’t crunchy, it ain’t your Lunchie!”
Bill arched a brow. Lunchie? They couldn’t come up with a better name than that?
“Hold it right there, Mister! Where do you think you’re going?”
Well, this one held promise. He increased the volume.
“That’s right! I’m talkin’ to you, Bill Philips.”
SCREECH! The car ground to a halt. Someone yelled from a van as she passed by. Bill’s heart skipped a beat. At least it felt that way. If it really had skipped a beat, the cardiovascular implications would have been…
But the radio had just… NAH! It couldn’t have—
“I know you know that you ain’t supposed to be on the road this mornin’, but you just had to push it, didn’t you? Now I ain’t takin’ anymore of this nonsense— hmm! That’s sound’s cool, there, don’t it? The way I say it like, ‘NAAANSEENS’! Right there! Right there! Yeah, that was something…”
Bill had stopped breathing. Had he just heard his name on the radio? What was this?
Lord, this is crazy. My mind, my imagination… Perhaps it’s just a commercial. Maybe Bill Philips is a common name. You know like Tom, Dick and … Harry…
He could not hold it back any longer. It felt foolish. It felt stupid. But he just couldn’t stop himself. “Were they just … talking to … my Bill Philips? As in … me?”
“You know this ain’t nobody at no radio station, boy! I’M YER CAR! And if God done told you not to go someplace, you better make sure you ain’t goin’ someplace, you understand me? Capisce?”
Bill was still frozen. The red Mustang that his uncle had dumped and given him was here, TALKING?! He turned off the radio.
“Yeah, you heard me!” The car came to life again. “I don’t know what’s up with you humans, always going around disobeying God! God says, “Don’t touch that!” But you just gotta touch it, don’tcha?”
Bill’s hand was on his chest. OK, this is only in my mind. I’m just imagining—
“Now I know I ain’t gonna git the chance to spill my guts out in words for long, so I’ll just lay it out straight, right here, right now.” This was no imagination.
“Boy, your drivin’ is TERRIBLE! Like how you stopped back there, all screechin’ and scratchin’, ruinin’ my—! You wanna ruin my new Michelins? I don’t even get a good pedicure until my tires are blown out, but I can’t complain.”
Bill was already out of his car, gazing. Bewildered. Shocked. Scared.
A CAR IS TALKING TO ME?! He slapped his face. Ow! It hurt more than it did in cartoons. But the car was still there, talking. Bill was too scared to scream. Was it, by any chance … possessed? Was that even possible?
But the car went on and on. Bill felt he was going to die. Was this some kind of trick?
“An’ you nevuh give me gas until I’m parched, man! Jus’ ‘cause I get you where you’re goin’ don’t mean I don’t got feelings too! Yeah, I said it.”
Just when it felt like it could never end, the car finally said,
“Well Lord, I finally delivered my message. I told him not to go, so if he go I’m innocent. I wash my wheels off the whole thing! I know a car don’t get many opportunities to say somethin’, Lord. Well, except those new cars, all flashy and all. All they got is a recorded human voice and a GPC … a GPF, what do they call those ‘gejitz’, anyway? But, Lord, I still wonder what you see in these here humans. I don’t understand, but I know You do.
“Been nice talkin’, Lord. It’s been one small step for a Mustang, one giant leap for all automobiles, or something like that.“
Bill stood there, transfixed. That was all. No more words. Yes, his car had just spoken to him.
Dear God. I’m never gonna disobey You a-GAIN! I’m sorry…
He walked back home a few minutes later, wondering how he would explain this to the rest of the guys. He didn’t pick the car up till evening. And the car never spoke again.
Turns out there was a gang fight at the courts that morning, and the police raided the place. Every young person there had spent most of the day in police detention before they were fully cleared.
Now, that was a close call!
OK, a car talking? Now that’s kinda creepy.
But God did it once before. That time, it was a donkey. You can read about it in the Bible in Numbers chapter 22. There, God told a man named Balaam not to go somewhere, but when he kept pushing, God permitted it, though it was not the best thing. So, instead of just letting Balaam get into a bad spot, He caused an extraordinary scene by making his donkey speak to warn him of danger ahead. Balaam surrendered to God’s sovereignty, and God gave him a new assignment. It’s worth reading, I tell you.
God sometimes speaks to us through seemingly ordinary situations and people. If we’re not sensitive or attentive, we may just let those opportunities pass. But it is in those moments that we train our minds to recognize God’s voice. He doesn’t need you to see fire and trumpets and ceremony and stuff before you listen to Him. Pay attention to the little things too. God may be using them to speak to you.
And, be sure of this, He wants to speak with you like a friend. Even now.