I was driving up a steep hill when I felt my engine give a cough and start to splutter. My vehicle bucked and kicked its way up the incline and kept running, but after a few more hills and more internal gyrations the dreaded “Service Engine Soon” light came on right on the outskirts of town, a red beacon of doom.
My Buick Park Avenue — which I affectionately named “Miranda” upon purchase — has the soul of an old Southern belle just ready for the nursing home. While still grand and beautiful on the outside, Miranda’s internal organs are weak and failing. This isn’t the first time in our relationship that she’s needed repairs. Nor is it the second or third. I cannot begin to tell you how often that car has broken down. She’s stranded me at a shopping mall, stranded me in Kansas City, leaked coolant all over the engine, and blown hot air out of one vent while the other blew cold. I’ve replaced her steering column, replaced her coolant elbows, and now, in order for her to properly accelerate up hills, I need to replace something called a “solenoid.” My knowledge of the internal workings of cars is slowly increasing over time.
But even though Miranda’s condition has been diagnosed, and I have a friendly mechanic ready to perform surgery on her, I still have two problems. The first is money. This repair is going to be costly, a labor-intensive operation, and as a missionary who just gave up her reliable job at the coffee shop to prepare to go overseas, this expense couldn’t have come at a worse time.
Which leads to my second problem — God. Ok, scratch that. My problem isn’t really God. Sure, I’d like to think it is, but in reality, my problem is my own response to what God wants me to do.
The moment my “Service Engine Soon” light blinked on, my immediate reaction was a mixture of fear, anger, and confusion. “That’s it! I’ve had it. I am so done with this car. I’ve poured tons of money into her, I’ve fixed every issue she threw my way. It’s never enough! I don’t know why You gave her to me, God, but You obviously made a mistake. I can’t afford to keep her, so it’s time I got rid of her.”
Yet, when I prayed about it later, I felt the Lord telling me to once again repair my car.
I’ll admit that I cried. I felt frustrated and afraid. But an unexpected phone call from my missionary boyfriend brought some encouragement. “Maybe God has a story to tell through this,” he said.
So I prayed again, this time asking for understanding.
That’s when the Lord began to work on my heart. He showed me that I like things that are easy to fix. I find pleasure in quickly resolving an issue and moving on to something else.
What I don’t like, however, are things that are beyond my ability to fix. When something is unrepairable, I don’t even try. I reject it. I can’t be bothered. The fact that I’d tried so hard with Miranda only to fail again and again irritated me. If Miranda was just a piece of junk, then she wasn’t worth any more of my time and effort.
But that isn’t the way the Lord views things. He’s used to brokenness. He’s used to seeing “unrepairable” people, “unrepairable” relationships, and “unrepairable” churches. And unlike me, the Lord never gives up. He’s willing to keep working until a situation is fixed. He doesn’t get angry or call something a waste of time and money. Instead, He gave His most important, most valued object, His only Son, Jesus, for the sake of an “unredeemable” world. God didn’t give in part. He gave it all.
As a missionary in the Czech Republic, I’m going to be faced with a lot of situations that seem “unrepairable.” I’m going to meet a lot of people who’ve been dubbed “unrepairable” by their friends. I’m going to be called to greater lengths of service and sacrifice to help these people than I can now comprehend. I’m going to want to give up. But the Father’s Heart doesn’t give up.
So once again, Miranda is being repaired. I’m stepping out in faith, trusting for provision and for her speedy recovery. Early next week I travel down to a mission conference near Kansas City. If Miranda is able to be fixed in time, then she and I have a lot of hilly territory to climb.
But even if she isn’t ready, I’ve learned an important lesson. God never gives up on the “unrepairable,” and, with His help, I’m not going to either.