Don’t Forget God’s Past Blessings: A Lesson I’m Still learning

I wrote this back in December of 2009. Seven years later I’m still driving that car although I confess she’s limping a lot lately!  In sharing this it serves as a reminder to me as to what the condition of my heart is.  Allan

These last several weeks we have had what I would call an interesting drama taking place centered around my car.  We own two cars and the car I drive is a 1995 Toyota Camry.  It has over 227,000 miles on it to date.  We bought it very inexpensively and had it towed here.  Our neighbor was able to fix the car when it seemed it would need a new engine and I’ve driven it since.

Maybe five weeks ago my car failed a smog test.  I was told it was the ignition timing and that it would be a simple fix.  No problem.  My neighbor could fix it.  Then things became interesting.  Before we could arrange having it fixed I received a curious letter in the mail that peaked my interest.  The letter indicated the state was looking for a limited number of cars to do some smog emission testing and repairs on.  It seemed a bit shady but I filled out the form and mailed it back.  I then spoke with a person from the organization about the chance of them using my car.  It turned out that they couldn’t use it as they already had a 1995 Camry.  The young man thanked me for my interest and said maybe in a year or two I might hear from them.

No biggie.  The weekend passed and lo and behold I get a call from the same person.  He stated to me that they now needed another 1995 Toyota and they’d like to use mine.  I jumped all over that.

Why was I so eager to participate?  This was how the deal worked.  They would keep my car for about three weeks and then return it to me.  The car would be tested for all sorts of emission studies.  They would return it to me washed inside and out and with a full tank of gas.  They would also give me a check for $500 for participating.  During the three weeks they provided me with a 2009 Nissan Altima.  I would not have to pay for any of the gas during the time I had the car.

So for a little over three weeks I tooled around town in a new car while my beast of burden was being pampered!  Sure enough after a little over three weeks they drop my car at home and picked up the loaner.  The man handed me a check for $500.  My neighbors were asking how they could get the same chance I did.  Who wouldn’t?

The folks who tested my car test about 250 cars a year.  They randomly mail out the offer to people throughout the state.  I happened to be one of them.  When my car was initially picked up I was told by the person picking it up he had never witnessed a situation like mine before.  They had the car they needed but for some odd reason he didn’t explain they needed another which led to them calling me back.  Most folks were skeptical at first figuring I was being taken advantage of.  That changed when they saw the loaner car in our driveway!

Of course I was thanking God for what I saw as a miracle in my life.  The timing and the $500 were both too much for me to comprehend.  I was pretty excited to say the least.

Once my car was returned I had the small matter of taking it back to be re-tested for smog.  Since the emission folks  had it and repaired it I was very confident things would go smoothly as I took my car back for re-testing.  You guessed it.  It failed again!  Since this was the second time it failed the test guy said I would have to pay the $61 dollar fee again when I brought my car back.  My $500 was now shrinking.  I decided now to take it to the local mechanic as now we had to figure out what was wrong and fix it.  Now the fun began.

The mechanic found the issue but it turned out the pinging I was hearing was actually my timing belt ready to give up the ghost.  Now I needed a timing belt, a water pump, and various seals and a few other parts.  Now I’m looking at $700 in total.

I came home from seeing the mechanic (who is as honest and fair as they come) and I was very upset.  The $500 was gone and we had to come up with another $200 to boot. Now I was feeling taken advantage of.  I was really down.  I come home and my wife doesn’t have a care in the world.  She reminded me we had $500 dropped in our lap and that would pretty much pay for everything and my car would be running great and not leaking oil any more.

The thing is that I realized all of this but chose to be a baby and be ungrateful for something that God had done for us.  I chose to see myself as a victim when I wasn’t a victim at all.  Three days ago I chose to go see another smog person and guess what?  My car passed with flying colors.  Yesterday I dropped my car for repairs and they fixed everything.  And I had $40 left out of the $500 to boot.

As this year is coming to a close I have been keenly aware of some grueling trials some of you and  various family members are going through or have gone through this year. Personally, I haven’t experienced a year like this that has been so difficult for so many I love and care for.

Maybe I’ve been too comfortable lately.  I don’t really know.  I do know that when this car drama arrived I did not respond well at all.  In fact I’m ashamed of how quickly I forgot all that God has done for me.  I also realized that a huge reason this blog exists is that I want to encourage and offer hope to those who drop by.  “Do as I say and not as I do” would have described my heart perfectly.

I can’t separate all of the angst that can come with mental illness from a bit of drama concerning my car.  God doesn’t operate that way.  In fact He works quite the opposite.  These verses state things quite well.

Proverbs 3:5  Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.
Proverbs 3:6  In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

Philippians 4:6  do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
Philippians 4:7  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

At the same time I can ask God to forgive me and can go forward knowing He has done just that.

1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

I also don’t need to walk around beating myself up for mistakes I have made.  Why?  Because God says this.

Romans 8:1  There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

In closing I’d like to share that God’s promises are for all of us no matter what the situation.  He loves us perfectly.  May He bless you abundantly.