Discovering Spiritual Truths & Celebrating God's Grace in the Every Day Happenings of Life.
One week ago today, I said goodbye to a dear friend. It was inevitable. No such relationships last forever. I knew the day would come, but I tried not to think about it. We could see her fading quite a bit over the past year especially. We saw her health decline and she did not move around with quite the same perk that she once had. Her color had faded. Her list of minor ailments continued to accumulate. You could see the toll of time all over her body. Make no mistake, we did everything we could to help prolong her life. But in the end, there was nothing more we could do. We were foolishly pushing off that which we could not avoid. None of us can. The tears no longer flow, but I do still think about her from time-to-time. This friend had been with my wife and me so closely over the past 16 years. She was there for all the important moments in our lives—courtship, wedding, seminary, birth of our children, road trips, moves to Wisconsin and then to New Jersey. This friend was as steadfast and reliable as they come. Sure, there were moments of frustration along the way, but this friend was resiliently dependable. The history we had and the way she cared for my family and me is something I’m very much grateful for. That is why saying goodbye to her was so hard and bittersweet. Yes indeed, my friends, last Wednesday I finally bid farewell to my beloved 2005 Toyota Corolla. She’s gone. Sniff… Sniff
No one would argue, the time had come for me to invest in a new car. That was painfully clear when the most recent cost of needed repairs was 5 times more expensive than the value of the car. As I sat there at the dealership, I was eager for my overdue four-wheeled upgrade, but also a touch nostalgic for all the good times we had in that gray Corolla, now with rusty highlights. Fortunately, my sentimental sorrows were softened knowing that I would get some trade-in value towards my new purchase. $1500. $1000. $750. What would it be? After all, is there really an adequate price tag for beloved friend that had served me well for over 215,000 miles? Our affable sales associate came back, “Sorry, all my manager will give you is $450.” Can you believe it? How horrible! What a nasty insult! Only $450—that’s it and not a penny more! In spite of all the beautifully placed duct tape, tastefully positioned zip ties, and sophisticatedly located bungee cords… all these heartless people behind the desk were willing to give me was a measly $450. I retorted, “Can you at least give me $550?” They wouldn’t even consider it. No salesperson or manger in that place cared at all about the glory days of the Corolla. They didn’t care about the memories made or any such sentimental value. All they saw was a beat up and barely running car. It was destined for the junkyard. They were not willing to invest anything. That dear friend of mine had nearly zero value to this dealership.
I love it when God provides a teachable moment in the everyday of life’s circumstances. Especially when that moment gives a perfect platform to speak of His immense love for us. Weeks ago in Bible class, we looked at the parable of the prodigal son found in Luke 15. The pinnacle of this well-known parable is not the squandering recklessness of the indignant son, but the radical and restorative love of the merciful father. The young son returns home after hitting rock bottom; he is beat up and broken down. Figuratively held together by emotional duct tape and relational zip ties. No one else would give him anything based on his past sins and indiscretions. His actions were a great insult to his family and disgrace to the rest of the community. He was considered worthless by everyone around him. But not his father. His father was overjoyed to see him again. He ran to him. He embraced him. He rejoiced and celebrated; he threw a party to showcase his love and made a public spectacle of his son’s restoration back into the family. Beautiful. This is the type of incredible love that God the Father has—for you! No matter how many miles you’ve been on the road, no matter how many times you’ve broken down. Despite your long list of mistakes or how many times your “check engine” light has come on. Regardless of how much others think you are worth, God loudly and proudly declares that you are His greatest possession. Even if you think you are destined for the human junkyard, God steps in and says He will pay top-dollar. He spares no expense because YOU are so valuable to Him. You are so loved by the Father (John 3:16). You are precious in His eyes (Isaiah 43:4). You are his most treasured possession (Malachi 3:17). You are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). You are part of His church, His own special people (1 Peter 2:9).
Oh these wonderful, scriptural affirmations could go on and on. It becomes clear, there is no need for any of us to question our worth. The Apostle Paul reminds us that God spared no expense—so much more than a mere $450—in sacrificing His own Son for the sake of us all (cf. Romans 8:32). Our God put His own life on the line to cover the cost we could never afford. I suppose God could have traded us in for a newer, flashier, blemish-free model. Out with the old, in with the new. He could have started from scratch. But thankfully, He doesn’t do that. Instead, He looks at you and me, with all of our sins and imperfections, and showers us repeatedly with His love and mercy. Our value and worth is emphatically restored. “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” (2 Cor. 5:17)
In Christ we are given a new price tag that cannot be taken away and will never lose value over time. No matter what those mean, heartless car salesmen tell you! 😉
Pastor Steve Vera