Sunday, November 19, 2017

New Cars and the Marianas Trench

November 19, 2010 by  
Filed under Monthly Articles

Pastor Weaver has a new car. I didn’t know his old van was on life support until he tore into the church parking lot behind the wheel of that candy-apple red foreign jobbie, dealer plates and “temporary” sticker still plastered to the rear window. Talk about a beaut.

I immediately resented its purring presence. I’m thinking: You could stock a food bank forever on that puppy’s retail value. A more spiritual spin: Think of all the worthy ministries and charities you could’ve supported with the money you spent on this heap of power windows and fuel-injected intake!

You’ll be relieved to hear that I didn’t say this out loud. But I thought it. So, why am I thinking like this?
For starters, it’s been “one of those days.” Fatigue has breached my defenses and most of my better judgment. More to the point, it’s because we need a new car, too. Nothing fancy. I’d settle for a “pre-owned” domestic jobbie that rolled off the assembly line when they were still cranking them out in one color. No particular make or model, just something fresher than the 1984 Japanese tin can we’ve been tooling around in for decades.

So, variation on a theme: He doesn’t need a new car. His wife’s car is newer and nicer than our old clunker was the day it was born. They don’t even have any kids at home anymore. Where do they get the money to buy a fancy new car?

Long ago when I was young and foolish – like last week – I’d reproach myself big-time for such silly, petty thoughts. Why should I begrudge God’s blessing of another saint? That’s His business, not mine. Sit down and shut up, sister. Today, however, I’m ashamed of my self-centered reaction to another’s material blessing.
Why am I telling you this? Well, protestations of envy, discontent, unfair comparison and frustration aside, is my reaction to that candy-apple red intruder unusual?

What about the colleague who gets the promotion you applied for – especially when you have more experience and a stronger resume? What about the parental braggadocio who’s spouting off over her four-point-oh honor graduate, the boy genius who never cracked a book in his life, while your kid studied his brains out to scrape up some Cs? How about the neighbor who’s heading out for a Caribbean cruise while you’re camping at the beach?

Warning: I’m going to take a sharp turn here, so buckle up! I’m giving you a sneak peek inside a writer’s mind and telling you where temptation often lies. So forget about that seat belt. Better get an industrial strength winch.
You see, at this point a writer is tempted to toss in a few Bible verses, fold over a pithy quote or two and wrap up this story with a bow of trite clichés and call it done.

I could do that. You might even smile and nod and agree. No loose ends. Nothing unpredictable or surprising. Nothing that requires any thought deeper than a Chicago-style deep-dish pizza. Comfortable. Nice. Neat. And excruciatingly disingenuous.

Maybe that’s why this nagging niggling won’t let me do that. So indulge me for a moment while I sail into a different sea. Wonder with me if God may be up to something in this car envy episode. Could He be delving into depths, dredging into the Marianas Trench of my soul and bringing up… self-centered sludge? There it is again: the oozy, inky mire of me-ism. Rooting around in my Marianas Trench, could God be bringing these character flaws and defects to the surface because He’s after something deeper?

Proverbs 4:23 says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.”

My heart isn’t exactly a sparkling cup of Aquafina right now. Measuring myself against someone else, I’ve come up short. The result? A “wellspring” clogged with self-pity, myopic me-ism and wounded pride. But God keeps digging. Why? Because He’s after my heart. Yes, He’s already redeemed it. His Son paid the ultimate price to ransom me out of the kingdom of darkness and into the kingdom of light. So why am I grubbing around here in the mud?

Because I’m a slow learner.

But God is a patient teacher. He gently points to this dark, mucky part of my heart and says, “Will you give me that?” It’s a request, not a command. How gracious He is. I hang back, hesitant. Then I think, “What in the world am I waiting for?”

For the next four hours I say yes to God. He dives again and again, hauling one bucket of yuck after another to the surface. He points and asks. I nod. Repentance. Forgiveness. Cleansing.
I slowly realize that the gunk surrounding my reaction to Pastor Weaver’s new car has little to do with the fancy import. It’s about a hole in my heart, a craving I’m trying to fill. How kind of God to gently remind me that a new car, house, job, promotion, or even “best-selling author” status will never fill the hole in my heart that He’s surfaced via a 2009 Toyota Camry. He made me with a “heart hole” that only the love of God in Christ can fill. And He does, especially from the driver’s seat.

Excerpted from “how I got to be 50 and other atrocities: a baby boomer reflects on the boom and other splashes of everyday life” by Kristine Lowder.

A multi-published author, Kristine Lowder has published 12 books, hundreds of articles, short stories, essays and devotionals.  She enjoys reading, camping and hiking in the Cascades with her husband, their four sons, and their incurably affable yellow Lab, Eve. She manages or administrates six blogs.  Visit her at: KristineLowder.com

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