God often teaches me some valuable lessons in seemingly strange ways. I don’t see my ‘little flaws’ through God’s eyes and most often, I am not even aware of the fact that I need a lesson in a certain area of my life. There was a time when the lesson was humility and I can’t say that I learned it quickly.
I have always liked nice cars. My first car was definitely not new and had several serious faults. Occasionally, while driving, the entire electrical system would suddenly shut down. This was a bit hazardous, especially at night.
After the first time it happened, I carried a hammer with me to give the voltage regulator a whack. Being sixteen years old at the time, it didn’t seem like too big of an inconvenience, but I longed for the day when I would have a new car.
It wouldn’t have to be a Mercedes or a BMW; just a new car that I could drive
with pride and it wouldn’t be necessary to carry a hammer with me.
In the ensuing years, I owned many new vehicles, taking pride in each one. Some of them were fast, four-on-the-floor cars; some were station wagons, pick-up
trucks and vans, depending on my stage of life and my family’s needs.
Due to a few bumps in the road of life, I found myself without wheels of any
kind. This situation was impossible and I started looking for a really inexpensive car.
The words‘really inexpensive’ and ‘well-running’ cannot be used in conjunction with each other. I became more desperate with each passing day. Out of sheer desperation, I bought a fifteen-year-old van with a small oil leak, pointed out by the owner. I probably should have been suspicious when he graciously offered to leave me the five-gallon bucket of oil in the back of the van.
Things went downhill from there. The passenger door only opened from the inside and there was no lock in the back hatch door. There was, however, a hole into which I could insert a screwdriver. If I turned it just right, the latch would pop and voile’, the hatch door would open. Needless to say, I kept a screwdriver in the glove box at all times. When I thought it had probably leaked enough oil that I should be checking it, I pulled on the hood lever. Imagine my surprise when I discovered it wasn’t attached to anything! I had to use pliers to grasp the wire that used to be attached to the lever, and pull – hard. It worked. My necessary tool arsenal was growing.
It was October and getting colder which somehow compromised the sliding side door. It would not open, no matter how hard I pulled. Great! Anyone wanting to set in
a seat other than the two in front would have to crawl in through the back and that was becoming more difficult, because the hatch door didn’t want to stay up on its own, so I either had to hold it up or prop it up with a long stick! Another tool I couldn’t be without.
At that time, I transported my four grandchildren to school each day; the youngest
still in a car seat. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to put a car seat into a van that has a limited number of doors that open? The loading and unloading of children and book bags can be entertaining if you are the one watching and not participating. I felt as though I was ‘releasing the prisoners’ when I opened the back hatch door, (using my trusty screwdriver) then held it up while they all came crawling out.
Then I noticed a new phenomenon. While driving alone, (thank God) I had to slam on the brakes. I heard a strange noise in the back. Looking in my rear-view mirror, I saw that one of the individual seats’hooks had obviously disengaged from the floor and the entire seat had fallen forward. When I stepped on the gas, it flew back to its original position. This continued every time I stopped and started!
Humility was being learned on a daily basis. I often repeated this bible verse from Proverbs 22:verse 4 : ‘By humility and the fear of the Lord are riches and honor and life.’ I gained a whole new empathy for people who were driving less than ‘nice cars.’ I was very selective about where I parked because I didn’t want to leave the inevitable oil stain on a friend’s driveway. The theory that a car is an extension of its owner made me alternately sad and angry. I didn’t want to be ‘worn out’ with half of my parts not working and I didn’t even want to think about the ‘leaking’ part.
On most days, I approached this phase of my vehicle ownership life with a
sense of thankfulness that the vehicle started every time I turned the key and
it got me from Point A to Point B (as long as I continued to check the oil). There are valuable lessons to be learned from every situation and I prayed that my grandchildren were learning some of them, too. 1) Don’t be too prideful about any of your possessions because you can certainly lose them. 2) You are not defined by your possessions or lack thereof. 3) Strive to maintain a sense of humor at all times. 4) Be thankful for what you do have and most importantly, remember that THINGS are just THINGS and not of eternal importance.
I thought I was on my way to acceptance and humility, until my sister called. She
was arriving at the airport and asked me to pick her up. My first thought, as I had visions of asking her to crawl to her seat through the back, was: ‘ I’ll just borrow my friend’s car for the day and my sister will never know what I drive.’ Obviously, I still hadn’t let go of my pride.