One of the jobs I had involved crossing the Pennines to visit a construction site in Harrogate. Towards the end of the project it became a twice-weekly visit. One day I drove pass a lay-by up on the moors and there was an old Citroen BX parked up, with a flat rear tyre.
I thought nothing of it until a few days later I went pass the same spot and all the tyres on the car were flat, windscreen wipers were missing and the headlights removed. By the next visit the windows were smashed and the doors open. It was no longer secure and was open to the elements.
Over the next few trips I noticed other bits of the car gradually went missing – wing mirrors, bumpers, seats, dash board – and eventually the whole car was overturned on the grass verge. It was just an empty shell. What once had been someone’s pride and joy now lay abandoned to its fate, unable to function. It was incapable of righting itself, an ugly sight, reflecting an ugly scavenging process over a relatively short period of time.
Maybe the owner had driven it too hard and the engine just siezed up. Maybe it was lack of maintenance, constant failure or inadequate resources to keep it going. Maybe the owner just got fed up with the constant failures and disappointments and eventually abandoned the car.
I’ll be honest, I know relatively little about car maintenance, and what little I did know has been superseded by electronic components which, when faulty, either must be thrown away or need a specialist to repair them. What I do know is that if you don’t look after the heart of the car, the engine, eventually it will cease to function. It might look okay on the outside, but it’s the condition of the inside that determines how long it will keep going.
All this served as a visual reminder for me that when we’re struggling and when we’re falling apart, when we’re angry and frustrated, when we feel a failure or have been let down, we don’t have to park up in a lay-by somewhere, or give up, or accept defeat, and abandon ourselves to an unknown future. There’s another choice we can make.
A couple of weeks later I went pass the lay-by again, wondering what else might have happened to the car. Instead the car had gone completely, removed, no doubt, to that great scrapyard in the sky.
Don’t lose heart. Choose to believe that God has a plan and a purpose for us. He will never let us down. He never abandons us. He doesn’t consign us to the scrapyard, but instead offers to us a hope and a future.