We bought a new car on Wednesday. Technically it’s used, but it’s the newest car we’ve ever owned. We bought it from a dealership — also a first for us. We’ve never spent very much on cars, but thought to ourselves, “let’s buy a nice car so we don’t have to worry about it for a while.” (Can you see where this is going?)
Four days later, we drove it to church. We’ve been looking for a new church, and it was our first time going to this particular church. I was very excited. But we couldn’t find the baby’s pacifier before we left, and we were running late. The parking lot was snowy, icy, and very crowded. We were stressed we were late.
We finally found a parking spot, and had to back up the hill into it. The car’s a stick shift, and we killed it. And there were cars waiting for us to move. (Also, I’m not going to name names as to who was driving, but it wasn’t me. Sorry Reed 🙂 ) We trusted our fancy new back up cam and continued backing up the steep, icy, hill until the loud crunch told us something was wrong.
Neither of us have never, ever, hit another car before. Four days. That’s all it took for this car. Two people backed into my very first car, but we’ve never been the perpetrators. And we’ve always owned cars where, if the bumper starts to falls off, we zip tie it back on and don’t think twice about it (that happened in South Dakota in ~-55 degree wind chills).
We thought about leaving, but decided to go to church anyway. Here are the things I learned from the whole experience:
1. We can’t rely on things on earth to last
We didn’t think we were REALLY relying on the car, but seeing it damaged right after we bought it made us think about how much we’re really valuing it. It’s fine to be bummed, but it shouldn’t affect our joy. “And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever” 1 John 2:17. Expecting it to last is expecting it to be like God. God is the only thing that last and will be reliable forever.
2. Don’t hold earthly things above God
A sign that we’re holding something above God is when we get TOO mad when something happens to it. It’s okay to be angry with the things God is angry about, but God isn’t angry when his car gets damaged. Yes, he cares for what we care about, but he’s not MAD about it. Getting too angry about things like this reveals that we’re putting our hope and trust in earthly things instead of God. “Those who trust in their riches will fall, but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf” (Proverbs 11:28).
3. Walking into church with guilt and shame is how we come before God
We went into the church and everyone was so welcoming, and we were so distracted. We could only think “We just backed into one of your cars.” But it felt like a perfect living example of how God loves us. We come to him distracted, guilty, and shameful, and through Jesus he treats us as welcomed and loved in return.
4. We come away from God, through Jesus, with Grace freely given,
We met the pastor at the end of the service and asked him if he knew anyone with a big white van. He did. We introduced ourselves to him, and found out we’d met before. Then we said “yeah, we backed into your van.” The van had a cracked tail light, but it looked like it was too high for our car to have done it. We thought we might not have done any damage to his vehicle, but we wanted to make sure. He was really nice and walked out to his car with us. He said his tail light was already cracked, and there was a tiny scrape on his plastic bumper. He said, “don’t worry about it all.” Grace, freely given. Just like what God does for us when we come to him guilty and ask for forgiveness.
No, our car didn’t have that much damage. But dang body work is so expensive that it will still cost us to fix. We bought it to rely on, and damaged it within four days. And the second key fob is already broken, too. It is all a very clear reminder that we can’t rely on earthly things – only on God. He’s the only one who will never fail us. It’s a reminder to not hold earthly things above God, because he’s the one we should put our true hope and trust in. This story is the clearest example I’ve lived of God’s love for us I can think of that I’ve personally experienced. Coming to him guilty, with shame, and leaving with grace, freely forgiven.