The Most Valuable Thing My Minivan Taught Me

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By Nate Champneys

When your minivan has 265,000 miles on it, you can be grateful for anything that works!My minivan has 265,000 miles on it and, as you would expect, it has many things wrong with it. One thing that I have taken for granted for years and that has stopped working in the last year or so is the heat controls. The heat controls are digital, and the control panel has completely stopped working, so the only thing I can control now is the fan speed. But intermittently the control will come back to life. Most of the time we get into our car and we just expect things to work and we forget the blessing that a simple thing like heat can be until it’s gone. But when my heat control works in my car occasionally, it is a cause for celebration and thanksgiving.

I have lived with my heat control the way it is for about a year, but this past summer, when the weather turned hot, it was not fun to live without A/C. Here is a crazy story—on the first day of the summer heat, I turned on my car and, lo and behold, everything worked, and I had some relief from the heat. My A/C continued to work all summer long, until the days turned cool and then, just as it had come to life, all the lights went dark, and I was back to only having fan control. But let me tell you, every day through the summer when I turned on my car and had wonderful cool air came out the vents, I thanked God for the gift of A/C. In the same way now that winter has come, although my heat control is not working, the system is “stuck” on heat. So, I can turn on the fan and have heat. It’s funny, now, every time I turn on my car and the heat comes on I thank God for the heat in my car.

It’s funny how such a stupid little thing, when taken a way and then restored, can be such a cause for thanksgiving. I began to think, why wait until something is taken away and then returned before thanking God for it? This has caused me to look around my life the last few months for the many little gifts God gives to me every day that I take for granted. When we look around at our lives through the lens of looking for the thousands of blessings God has given us, it really changes our perspective when we complain or worry about the things that we don’t have. God has given us a thousand and one gifts every day that we don’t even thank Him for.

In this Christmas season of giving, we give gifts because of the amazing gift God gave us through His Son, Jesus. But do we take time to recognize all the other gifts he is giving us right now? The clothes you are wearing right now. The laundry soap and water you used to wash them. The dresser you keep them in. The computer or smartphone you are reading this blog post on. The roof over your head right now. The light on the ceiling with electricity making it turn on. The heater that is heating the room where you currently sit. We are not owed any of these things, yet He has provided all of them to us while many people across the world do not have any of these things.

The Christmas season for many is a time of worrying about what gift to get for each person we care about and how we are going to pay for it. I encourage us all to take a moment and look around for the gifts that He is giving to you as you go throughout your day.

James 1:17—“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”

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Gumballs and Other Gifts

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By Nate Champneys


As a father of three young children (ages 6, 4, and 2), God often teaches me and parents me through the experiences with my own children. I wanted to share a recent lesson with you.

I try to take my children on regular “daddy dates.” On daddy dates, I get alone time with each of my kids and get to focus on connecting with just them. Sometimes we go to the park and play on the playground; other times we go to a restaurant. One time we went down to the creek and made paper boats and sailed them down the creek.

But their favorite place is the dollar store. Once in a while I take them there and let them pick one item.

If you want to test your patience, try taking a 4-year-old little girl to the dollar store and tell her to pick just one thing! It generally takes about 20 minutes, and it usually ends with us standing in the checkout line … then her deciding that, after 20 minutes of going back and forth, she would rather have the item right there in the checkout line. It’s funny; I often have to coach her past certain items or even tell her “No” when she chooses an item, because I know that, even though it is what she wants at this moment, it will break quickly, or she will not enjoy it as much as another thing. Sometimes she might say, “But, Daddy, I really want a gumball from the machine!” So I’ll reply, “I know, honey, but look over here — instead of getting just one gumball, you could get a whole bag of gumballs!”

The last time this happened, it occurred to me: “I wonder if this is how God feels, as He listens to us pray?” We beg Him for something that He knows will not be good for us, or He has something better that He wants to give to us instead. We can get so upset because we are not getting the thing that we think that we want, when the reality is that our Father in heaven knows exactly what we need and is also a Father who loves to give His children good gifts.

Is there something that you keep asking God for that He has not yet given you? Perhaps you are asking for a gumball, when He knows that, at the back of the store, there is a whole bag of gumballs He would like to give you!

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” (James 1:17)

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