Discovering Spiritual Truths & Celebrating God's Grace in the Every Day Happenings of Life.
The saga continues.
Garden State license plates securely on. Official NJ driver licenses delivered and in the wallets. This week it was inspection time. Our minivan passed with flying colors. Piece of cake. My wife was in and out of the inspection station (Newton this time, 😉) in 10 minutes. Our 2005 Toyota Corolla? Not so much. But on the plus side, I now have a stunning new piece of decor for my car. It is a bright red sticker on my windshield. It’s very pretty. Oh, and did I mention, it includes eight big, black letters. R-E-J-E-C-T-E-D.
Bummer. But it wasn’t a surprise. To be fair, we were pretty certain this was going to happen. After all, parts of my car are held together by gorilla tape and zip ties. Plus for the past couple of months my “Check Engine” light has been an ever-present, glowing reminder that something was wrong. Whatever that light indicated was askew, I knew it was not something I could fix myself. Add a few other known infirmities and we very much anticipated not passing the inspection. We were right. REJECTED. I guess 203K miles and a growing list of needed repairs will do that to you.
Glad I’m not a car…
Something doesn’t work right? REJECTED.
Speak a hurtful word? REJECTED.
Do a bad thing? REJECTED.
Lose your temper? REJECTED.
Barely holding it together? REJECTED.
Others “cars” look and function better? REJECTED.
If I had to stand before the heavenly mechanic in the sky, on my own accord, I would be destined for the junkyard. We all would.
In full disclosure, a major part of the reason my car failed is because I haven’t prioritize the monetary funds necessary to fix all that ails it. It’s a hefty chunk of change and I cringe at the thought of the bill. Is it worth it? How much longer will this car really last? Do I just buy a new one? Are these repairs really necessary? Can’t I just deal with the persistent problems? These are all the questions we wrestle with. Guess it’s a good thing my car doesn’t have ears to hear or feelings to hurt! “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) In spite of the fact that we are in spiritual disrepair, God acts to put us back together. He could have left us to our own sinful tailspin of destruction, but He doesn’t. He loves us way too much for that. He knows we’d fail the inspection of good deeds and piety every time; which is why He puts love into action. He sees past all the brokenness and commits His work to our complete restoration. Our loving Father knew our plight and our inability to do anything about it, and He took matters into His own merciful hands. He stepped out of heaven, entered our midst, and got to work. He died for us.
Do you remember these words of Jesus? “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:3) You are a friend of God. He laid down his life for you and me. He takes every ailment, every sin and repairs the brokenness of our hearts. He fixes me. He fixes you. He does all this because He loves us. And most importantly, He pays the bill. 100%. “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation [payment, sacrifice] for our sins.” (1 John 4:10) There is no pay-back plan or fancy credit card offer to draw out our interest-free payments. The price was fully paid on the cross of Jesus. As we eagerly await the empty tomb of Easter, we find great peace in the bill we don’t have to worry about or cringe over.
So now I have 30 days to fix the car, pay the bill, and head back to the DMV inspection station. I just hope my new mechanic will have a morsel of graciousness too. Either way, I will pay the painful price. Take my own heartwarming advice often given to my children—suck it up and deal with it. As for my eternal destiny? That trip is already secured—prepped and paid for in full by Jesus, the one who promised, “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” (John 14:3) Jesus makes the same beautiful declaration to all of you.
No red stickers.
Pastor Steve Vera