Wednesday, December 17, 2014

I Bought The Car; Life Sold Separately

When we retired in February of 2008, we saw the need for a more economical car. Being a car freak and somewhat of a fan of hi-tech cars, we bought a Prius. It served us faithfully for nearly 7 years, over 50,000 miles, and the mileage all the way was excellent.

Now, seven years on, we're more comfortable with retirement, and living within our retirement income, so a more "normal" car became a feasibility. Made even more feasible by the Prius doing some strange uncooperative things recently, when either my elder son or my wife was driving it.

I would never stand for my car being unpredictably reliable when Peg goes shopping in it.

Our younger son had bought a new VW Jetta a couple months ago, so that's the first place I went. Second trip there was to buy a car, but they just wouldn't get anywhere near my number. Then after looking at a couple other makes, I stopped by the local Ford dealer. Two hours later, having picked up Peg at home, we picked up our new Ford.

It didn't hurt that the salesman was a friend of many many years' standing at church.

I told him I wanted 4 things, specifically: Leather, backup camera, smart key, and one-touch up & down windows. He had an absolutely gorgeous silver-gold one in stock, and hence the speedy deal. But the really neat part didn't come until I already had the car.

I keep discovering nifty things about it. For one thing, the headlights are completely automatic. They turn themselves on and off, and dim themselves for oncoming traffic. And they even dim themselves when they see taillights ahead!

Then there's the Lane Keeping System. The camera in the car .. the same one that sees headlights & taillights ... sees lane markings and warns you when you get close to one side or the other. Too close and it puts a little pressure on the steering wheel to drift you back into your own lane. Once I was cruising down the road and the car was running straight so I ease off the wheel and, when the car drifted slowly to one side, the steering magically corrected itself. And a big red warning light flashed on the dashboard display tell me to "PLEASE KEEP BOTH HANDS ON THE STEERING WHEEL AT ALL TIMES!"

Yeah ... the new car even chewed me out.

There are many other things that seem like magic on it, but the real crux is that I bought the car for a few things I wanted, and after I had it, I discovered a lot of things I didn't know were there.

That's a lot like the Christian life, you know.

We get into it, ostensibly, because we are lost and don't want to spend eternity in the wrong place. But after we get into it, we discover there's a lot more to it than just relief from the ultimate Heat Wave. And I guess that's to be expected.

There's the fellowship. I tried to tell my lost brother how the fellowship of  believers transcended friendship in ways I couldn't explain. I recounted a time I gave a speech to a meeting of Real Estate Appraisers in Miami. A few of the Appraisers lined up to ask me questions afterwards, and one of them seemed to have trouble finding words. Suddenly he said "AHA.... that's IT!!" and pointed to the fish pin on my lapel. He said "You're a believer!". He said there was something different about yours truly and he just wanted to find out what it was.

I recounted that and several other instances where there'd been brief meaningful interactions with other believers. But his response was he had the same thing with teachers.

Well ... I'd met lots of other Insurance Underwriters and Insurance Brokers in my many years' insurance experience, but there was never the sort of instant fellowship I experience with fellow believers.

The truth finally dawned on me .... the fellowship of believers is a Spiritual matter. And my natural-man brother couldn't comprehend that. Any more than he could comprehend how, at my age and with my experiences, the only really thrilling things in life are all gathered around the common core of Jesus Christ, and His living in us via the Holy Spirit. And, the things He uses me to do here in this life.

Some of the steps in being a successful salesman concern being able to discern the prospect's problem, and addressing that problem with a solution that he can comprehend. Good salesmen will avoid getting entangled in explaining other things that do not concern the prospect. Taking a cue from that, there's not a lot of use in trying to convince a lost person how wonderful the Christian life is, when they're already leading what is, to them, a comfortable rewarding life.

There are some benefits to being a Christian that you won'r ever understand until you have already accepted eternal life.

AND another things I just thought of. I recall a story about a young lad of 3 or 4 who kept falling out of bed. They did sleep studies and monitoring and all, but could not figure out why he did that. When they expressed their bewilderment to the mother, the child spoke up and said "Maybe I just sleep to close to where I got in?"

Makes sense to me, and is akin to me, not reading the Owner's Manual to find out about my car and its features. I would've missed out on a lot.

As do, I fear, entirely too many members of today's church.

For the same reason.