I have sitting, in my yard, a broken green 1995 Geo Metro. We'll get back to that in a moment.
When I got saved in 1995, I was 21 years old, and without any undue embellishment, take my word for it, I was a hard man. I had seen tragedy and heartbreak and death, and although others have doubtless seen worse, the experiences of my brief life thus far had hardened me. I understood rage, and I understood anger, but I had done my best to jettison from my soul everything else. I walked around in a human body, but the affections and sentiments that are supposed to be common to the human experience were, from my vantage point, something that happened to other people. I had no friends, and I was OK with that. I had no close affections, and I was OK with that. You could hit me, but you could not hurt me, and that was on purpose. I don't say this to make myself sound like a tough guy, but rather to lay the groundwork for what God has done.
Of course now I sit here, more than 20 years later a new creature in Christ. I look at the man I used to be with a certain amount of detachment, and with two decades of experience on him. He's gone but not gone. That hard-hearted brawler still roams the hallways of my mind, and his influence bubbles up from time to time, but God has helped me in ways I could never explain. God has patiently stripped away the dross and is preparing a vessel for His use.
When I got saved, God gave me friends, or at least people who endured me for the ministries sake. I'm still not the life of the party, and I'll never be voted Mister Congeniality (thank God) but God has, over the years, placed some people in my life, and used those people, whether they knew it or not, to help reassemble the broken man that He redeemed. Of course, that sort of thing comes with a price.
Doug is one of those friends. I wish I could say that I had been the help to him that he's been to me, but that simply wouldn't be true. Really, my association with Doug has always struck me as pretty unlikely, but somehow it's worked. A few years back I was in a bind car-wise, and I bought this 1995 Geo from Doug and his wife. The car has always been sort of moody, and it's always been prone to failures that defy explanation and that come and go on their own, but I took that little car with its unmatchable gas mileage and put around 100,000 miles on it in the last 3 or 4 years. In that time, as I've worked through one issue or another (often with Doug's guidance or muscle) , many people have wondered why I didn't just get another car. My extended family have questioned my very sanity as to why I would strive over and over again to keep this one car on the road. I have bought other cars in this time, but it always comes back to this Geo. This time around, it has sat still for several months plagued with a host of symptoms that have the best and brightest shrugging their shoulders. People ask me, "What are you going to do with that thing?" I'm sure I could muster up a handful of practical reasons to keep the car. It's paid for. I know it inside and out. It gets 50 miles to the gallon. But that's probably not the real reason.
Look, I'm a smart guy. I can understand intellectually that this car is simply a 2,600 pound pile of metal and glass and rubber and plastic. I may talk to it, but it does not hear me. I get that. I understand the concept of 'diminishing returns'. I'm far from stupid. But an unintended side-effect of my restored humanity is that I am, on occasion an irrational, pathetically sentimental sap. I look at this pile of non functioning mechanical parts and I think of how I asked for prayer one night at a Saturday night prayer meeting because I needed a vehicle, and how Doug and his wife sold me that car for less than they could have. I think about Doug's wife, and how I wasn't sure if I was going to like her, but how our family has grown to love her. She is, like me, a trophy of God's grace, living proof of God's kindness, and a broken thing under divine reassembly. I think about how the newlyweds loaded up her stuff in a trailer and hauled it down here in that Geo, and how they both cast aside their own sentimental attachment to it and sold it to me. I think about all the time and knowledge Doug has donated to get this car back up on the road; time he could have spent with his lovely bride and his growing family. I think of how nobody would have done that for the cranky scrapper I used to be. I stand there in my yard with a tool in my hand and the hood up thinking about all of this, and with all the rational arguments to stop echoing in my head, I say to myself "well, let's try this one more thing...".
Having bared this little piece of myself to you, Oh Internet Reader Person, can you blame me? After all, I'm mostly human.