Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Death of a Car

Yesterday I heard the news that my 2001 Ford Focus would live no longer. This was hard for me to fathom, because I have never had any major problems with my car…until the day it just wouldn’t start. With only about 80,000 miles on the odometer, it should’ve lived much longer. Sure, it has been well loved since I moved to the city: three bashed-out windows, a jacked trunk, and a nice bullet hole above the left rear tire. But I just counted those things as character building experiences for my “first” car. I’m not very automotive-savvy but the guy working on my car said something about a thrown rod, some splintered metal thingy, a huge gash in the block…and well it’s not fixable without completely replacing the engine.

I took the news pretty hard. Andrew said it was my “justice mentality” because it just wasn’t right that my car was dead so young. It doesn’t make sense. I admit there were a few tears shed as the news sank in. I loved my car, it had been good to me, and I had been comfortable with it.

Meanwhile, the guy who pronounced my car as dead was fixing an older stick-shift Escort with over 200,000 miles someone had donated months ago. I hate stick shifts. I mean, I hate them. So, the thought of getting the Escort as a replacement to my beloved Focus added a discontented anger to my sadness. I was mad.

Later that evening I went to a women’s Bible study where we talked about faith. As the women talked about what faith is and where it comes from, the Lord started talking to me about my attitude. The situation played over in my head and I started to be ashamed of my discontented anger. Here I was angry that I was going to have to learn how to drive an old stick-shift, when God had clearly opened a door of provision in the very moment that our need became known. Our study discussed how our faith should only ever be placed in the promises of God, instead of having blind and ignorant faith in something that God could do but that is probably more in line with our desires than His. It was then that God said, Hellooo, Adria, what you need is a car, what you want is to be comfortable and to avoid change. But He didn’t stop there.

I then realized that not only was I getting mad about my wants and not my needs being unmet, but I was also placing some of my identity in having a car that I bought, that was my own possession, and that I thought looked fairly nice. Sometimes being a missionary is a humbling experience, as much of what we use is donated to World Impact and often isn’t pristine, isn’t what I would choose, and wasn’t acquired through any independence on my part. I can’t say that I always enjoy this. However, although Andrew and I don’t always get what we want, God has always made sure that we have what we need…in amazingly obvious and attentive ways. Too often I get spoiled by this care and feel entitled to more.

The death of my car and the Holy Spirit brought this to my attention, and I was very humbled at the sight of my pride and ungratefulness. The truth is, I still went home from the Bible study and cried a little at my loss. And I can’t say that my heart is completely on board with these realizations, but I want it to be. It’s a process and I’m hoping that as I attempt to drive that stupid stick-shift around an empty parking lot somewhere, my heart will attempt to work at a little more Christ-likeness. Perhaps the death of a car will be the birth of greater faith and humility. Not a bad trade off for my 2001 Ford Focus.

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