Monday, August 5, 2013

Roadside Assistance

Tooling along on a forest highway in the middle of nowhere a few weeks ago, headed to a job interview, my breath catches a little. My eyes have just spotted the engine temperature gauge, pointing in a very unpleasant direction. I pull over and open the hood. The engine is hissing, the coolant reservoir bubbling and trembling like a Yellowstone geyser.

Perfect. Interview aborted. Hope I can limp the 50 miles back to my mechanic. (Welcome to Montana.)

I get back in and start waiting for the engine to cool down, double blinkers engaged. After three minutes listening to their foreboding clicking ("uh-oh, uh-oh, uh-oh"), the sweltering heat coaxes me out of the car and into the shade of a nearby tree.

Standing there, one thought inexorably seeps in: my bank account isn't going to be better off after this.

And another thought, a response to the first, follows on its heels. Harder to put words to, because it's one of those deep-soul thoughts, a response to my constant car troubles.

This is pitiful.

It's a very male reaction to a bank account that doesn't look much different (though I'm not in debt) than when I was in college. Many women don't have quite this reaction. Frustration, sure. But men's sense of esteem tends to be tied to our work and accomplishments, of which bank accounts can be a reflection. To a guy, a smaller balance feels more like judgment. Like I'm not doing good enough, don't have what it takes.

There are, of course, plenty of reasons for this balance, of which car troubles are the foremost. But feelings insist. Quit making excuses, shmuck. Get it together. And lie. Nobody else seems to have these problems. And compare. Your friends are out buying houses and taking vacations in Hawaii.

Frustration growing, I do again what I've been trying to do all year. Turn my eyes back to Jesus.
"The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." - 1 Samuel 16:7 NIV
"Believers who are poor have something to boast about, for God has honored them." - James 1:9 NLT
Okay. Scripture's in the mix now. The roadside wait has become one of those moments where feelings and truth collide in a head-on brawl, battling for my allegiance. Life is pretty much a string of these moments. What am I going to choose? Because it IS a choice.

Am I going to take the word of God seriously or not?

I choose, out loud on the roadside, to accept God's standards for me, not my own or anyone else's. Relief and peace follow during my return journey - a little slowly, but they do follow.

I'm telling you, confessing the truth out loud has an effect on the inner life. It's tough at first, takes some time, feels weird because that semi driver might see me talking to air. My experience: the stronger this habit gets, the easier peace follows. Remaining in Jesus (John 15:4) includes believing what's true, because he is the Truth.

Pretty grateful today that God measures a man by what's in his heart, not his bank account.

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