Three years later we were driving home from Victoria, Texas, two hours south of Houston. We had just ministered for my brother-inlaw Jim and my sister Tamara. Driving on the freeway, 11:00 at night, Victoria said, "Joel, you'd better slow down. You will get a ticket."
"I won't get a ticket," I said. "We're only going 70. The speed limit is 65."
"No, the speed limit is 60 at night," Victoria said. "No, it's 65."
"Joel, I'm telling you, you need to slow down." I laughed. "Victoria, I have the favor of God." God has such a sense of humor. Just about that time, I looked in my rearview mirror and saw the flashing lights. Then I looked at Victoria and said, "You made me get this ticket."
The officer was a real nice, polite young man. He said, "I need to see your driver's license." I gave it to him.
"Are you the minister?" he asked.
"Did you speak at Faith Family Church tonight?"
"I did. In fact, that's my sister's church."
"I know," the officer said. "My father was there. He's the head usher."
"Oh, man. That's great. He was so nice to me."
The officer laughed, but he still asked for my insurance card.
And so Victoria dug deeper and deeper in the glove compartment. It was dark and we were a little uptight about being pulled over. She found every card except the right one.
Finally, with the officer waiting, Victoria took all the contents out of the glove compartment in search of the insurance card. She reached way back inside as far as she could. There, deep down in the darkness, she felt something with a hard, sharp edge. She dug a little deeper, grabbed it, and pulled it out.
Lo and behold, it was her missing ring. She was so excited. She forgot all about looking for the insurance card!
I thought: Girl, you're rejoicing, and I'm about to go to jail. "Victoria, that's great. But we still have to find the insurance card," I reminded her.
She finally dug out that, too, and gave it to the officer.
"Joel, I'll let you go," he said. "But first, I have one request. When I come visit your church, will you save me a seat?"
"Officer," I told him, "I'll save you a whole section."
I drove off that night thinking: God, You are so good. I didn't get a ticket and Victoria found her ring. God works in mysterious ways. I thought later that He caused Victoria to find her ring at my expense. But the truth is, Victoria stayed in faith. She had that attitude, "I'm closer than I think."
A young couple from our church told me about the challenges they had while trying to sell their house. They had only a few prospects in the first few weeks. They weren't having much luck.
The market was tough. Realtors told them it may take six months, a year, maybe even two years to sell. But this couple had an attitude of faith. They were prisoners of hope. And even though it didn't look good, they kept reminding themselves, "We are closer than we think. It could happen any day."
This one couple came back to look at the house a second time. They wanted to spend a couple of hours really studying it to see if it was right for their family. The owners were okay with that. But they debated whether they should take down their personal pictures of themselves and their children, just so they could remain more private. After they thought about it, they felt good about leaving those pictures where they were.