Monday, February 25, 2013

Paved Paradise

The parking lot. That thing they paved paradise for. The place your car rests and sleeps.

The place I believed my car had died.

A few months ago, I wrote about the gratefulness I felt just before selling our car in Korea, and the joy I felt at having been blessed with another free car. I said that I'd told God that I'd be content with whatever car He wanted me to have, even if it wasn't exactly what I wanted.

I lied.

To God, to you, to myself -

I lied.

I was not content. I was covetous of something more, ungrateful for what I had, jealous of my wife, because she was driving a new car. God had given me a free car, twice, and I looked upon that gift with veiled disdain. I wasn't truly thankful - not really. I mean, I was thankful - to a point, but it was two-faced. I looked derisively at the car, disappointed that it wasn't something more - something more 2013 Hyundai Veloster-like ...just as an off-hand example.

That is, I was ungrateful...until my car died.
About a month ago, I was driving around, when it suddenly became very difficult for me to shift the car into any gear. It started with reverse, then the lower gears, then all the gears. I was practically standing on the stick on the last let home, just trying to get the car back into the parking space, which I believed would ultimately be it's grave. By the time I did, the clutch was sinking into the floor with no resistance, and the gears were resolute and defiant.

I was barely able to roll the car into it's spot. I believed (and others agreed with my belief) that the clutch was broken and needed to be replaced. The only trouble with this was that we couldn't afford the repair. We didn't want to add to our already mounting credit card debts. We are trying to stay out of debt wherever possible, and by God's grace we are making slow headway on paying off what little debt we've incurred in the past couple months. As you can, then, imagine the thought of auto repairs wasn't a thrilling one. So, I held off as long as I could. Ferial urged me to get it fixed. However, I didn't see it as a need. I didn't have a job to get to and I was able to get around by hitching rides, or borrowing vehicles when a need did arise. I was recently convinced, though, that I needed to bite the bullet and get the car fixed. I began to see it as necessary.

I did a bit of investigation and a friend told me that his father would be willing to do the work for a discounted price, because of our close friendship. I debated this for another week, as it was still more than I wanted to spend...and I just knew that once he got in there, he'd find plenty more that needed to be fixed than just the clutch. In the end, though, I called and scheduled an appointment.

Which brings me to today.

I called roadside assistance. Made an appointment at the garage. And followed the tow truck over in our other vehicle, Geordi LaForte.

Upon arriving at the garage, I told of my woes to Dennis the mechanic. He was really busy, but as I explained the problem, he looked a bit sideways at me, and I could see the lightbulb turn on in his mind. He asked if I'd checked the fluid in some car part that I didn't know existed, and quickly concluded by my blank stare that I hadn't.

"If this is just a fluid problem, I'm going to be very embarrassed." I said.
Dennis the mechanic looked at me and answered very matter-of-fact, "Well, a little embarrassment might be worth saving yourself $500."
Too true.

He looked under the hood, unscrewed the lid to a reservoir that I might have thought belonged to the windshield wiper fluid, placed his finger inside and said, "Yup. Bone dry. That's a good sign."
(Only in this situation would that be a good sign)

He filled the little tank with some clear fluid, started the car and immediately slid the car into gear with ease.

I tucked my tail between my legs...

He told me to take the car for a spin around the block, just to make sure.

And for that trip around the block... I was truly thankful.

My car was "fixed"... and it cost me nothing.
(except perhaps some pride)

In the book of Hebrews, the author encourages his readers to "endure hardship as discipline." For such discipline is a sign that God is treating us as children, and what loving father doesn't discipline his children? In his context, the writer of that letter was encouraging early Christians who were being persecuted for their faith. Comparatively, my little #FirstWorldProblem isn't really such a big deal. All the same, though, it was a kind of a hardship to go without my car for the past month. It was humbling to have to beg rides off of people. I felt like a burden when I needed to borrow a car. I wasn't able to go to places I wanted, nor to places I needed to. I felt isolated, stuck, lame.

"the Lord disciplines the one that He loves, and chastens everyone He accepts as His son"

I was certainly in need of some discipline.

Over this month, I re-learned to be thankful & content. I'm thankful for my car. However, I'm also thankful for discipline, for gracious reminders & that I'm accepted as a son, by a Father who loves me.

And for a person who loves to drive, pavement itself can be a sort of paradise.

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