Answered Prayer Hanging on a Nail

The following is a true story that happened to me and my old station wagon . . .

I pulled on the wrench. It slipped off the nut. I sliced my knuckles against the engine housing–blood drips down my black grease-covered fingers.  Like usual, I yanked out my trusty-crusty handkerchief, wrapped it around my knuckles and kept working. I figured if I didn’t cut myself, or stab myself with a screwdriver, or draw blood in some other way, then I wasn’t doing a good job on my car!  Just kidding, but I usually do get hurt while working on my cars.  Anyway, I was in the process of changing the water pump on an old station wagon I had.  It was a hand-me-down car from my parents so we could more easily haul our growing family around.

The day before, I backed out of my parking spot at a grocery store and noticed a little puddle of green antifreeze and thought to myself, “Whoa, I recognize that florescent green puddle!  Poor guy, either his radiator has a leak or his water pump is going bad.”  The next day I backed out of my parking spot at the library and saw another puddle of green antifreeze.  Again I thought to myself, “Poor fellow, except I think the poor fellow might be me!!”  Getting out of the car, I popped open my hood and the wiring and motor block around my water pump were wet with antifreeze!  “Yep, it be me!!” I said aloud.

Fortunately, the car hadn’t started overheating yet, so I didn’t have steam pouring out from under my hood with all that drama that comes along with an overheated engine.  I drove to the auto store and purchased a replacement water pump and then drove to my grandfather’s house and parked it in his large old two-car garage.  Grandpa didn’t mind me working on my car in his garage . . . except for the time I tried to pull a motor out of my car and tied the pulley to a heavy pole laid across his garage roof trusses and they started to crack and could have brought his roof down.  Other than that time, he was happy to have me there.

I’d changed lots of water pumps in the past and figured it would be a quick job.  After draining the antifreeze and unclamping the hoses, I got a good view of the pump.  I was able to wiggle the shaft so the bearings wearing out was probably the problem and explained the slow leak.  However, the more I studied that water pump and how it was bolted to the block, I realized it was a configuration I had never seen before.  I consulted my handy car manual–whenever I got a car, I would buy an automotive manual for that make and year of car.  The manual said that I needed to use a “special tool” to remove the water pump, or my timing chain would be affected and thus mess up the timing of my car!

I called an auto parts store to find out how much this “special tool” would cost.  They didn’t carry the tool.  I called another store, and they didn’t carry it either.  I called a more expensive auto parts store, but no luck there either.  However, the parts counter guy said, “I know the tool you need and it is definitely needed on that model of car, and if you don’t use it, it’ll throw your timing off when you change your water pump.  Your best bet is to call a dealer.”  I call the dealer; they have the “special tool” but won’t rent or loan it to me.  “I can try and special order it for you, but it will take several weeks to get.  We even had a hard time getting one ourselves,”  he added.  I couldn’t afford to take my car to the dealer and be charged five times what it would cost me do to it myself.

Walking back out to my car in the garage, I prayed, “Lord, I need my car working . . . I have the water pump . . . I can’t afford to have the dealer do it . . . and I don’t have the ‘special tool.’ What do I do?  In Jesus name, Amen.”  I looked up and saw a large old cast iron handle randomly hanging on a nail on the garage wall.  That handle had been hanging on that nail since I was a little kid.  I remember playing with the handle my dad had made for my grandfather when my dad worked in a grey iron foundry.  I picked up my car manual and looked at a picture of the “special tool” . . . I looked at the handle on the nail and said out loud, “No way, Lord!!”  I took the handle and stuck it down by the water pump.  The two holes on the left side of the handle fit the two protruding studs and the arc of the handle went up and over the timing chain, and the single stud on the other side matched a hole on the right side of the handle.  I bolted it into place, removed the old water pump, installed the new water pump, unbolted the handle, and finished bolting everything back into place.

I plopped myself down on the garage floor beside the car and pondered this amazing answer to prayer.  The handle was exactly the right length.  The holes were large enough to accommodate the stud diameter.  The two holes on the left side of the handle were centered exactly the same distance apart as the side-by-side studs.  The arc of the handle was just barely high enough to clear the timing chain.  It was a heavy duty cast iron handle, so it could easily take the bolt pressure and not sag or bend.  And on top of all that, the answer to my prayer–my “special tool” from God–had been hanging on that nail for almost twenty years!

“. . . Your Father knows what you need even before you ask him.” Matthew 6:8  (NIV)

Copyright © 2010 by William D. (Nick) Nichols


  • fb says:

    Amen, indeed!

  • Nick,

    This is a great story. I look forward to reading more on your blog!

  • Jane Suttner says:

    Hello Nicky,

    It has been a longe time since you have heard my name, but I hope you remember me. I am Mark Suttner’s mother. Mark and his son were here visiting for a few days and Mark told me about your web site. (My husband and I live in Port Charlotte, Florida)

    I decided to read some of your stories and am very impressed. I’ll be reading more as I have time.

    I am being treat for wide spred bone cancer and would like to ask you to pray for me.
    I am a beliver and pray for the Lord to take care of me, but prayers from my friends
    are greatly appreciated.

    Jane Suttner

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