Pride and Joy

Jimmy was a well liked man, who had an good job which he did well, a wife and family whom he loved, and they loved him right back. He lived by good principles, like not being in debt and only paying for something he could afford. Jimmy’s two small sons wanted for nothing, but at the same time they didn’t have many of the ‘extras’ their pals had. They didn’t mind because they had something much more valuable. Each other.

Jimmy’s place of work was some 20 miles from home, and he took the train week in and week out because they didn’t have a car. They couldn’t afford one and he wasn’t about to go into debt for one when the train was reliable. One particularly stormy morning his wife Mary started a conversation and sowed a seed in her husband’s mind. She suggested if they saved up slowly, maybe they could afford a small runaround used car, and that way she continued, you wouldn’t get soaked walking to the train station so often. The seed was sown and Jimmy thought about it all day at work. With his wife’s backing, and the excitement of his sons, they decided to pull together, to save money where they could, and in some months or a year down the road, they could be the proud owners of a real family car. Not a new car, but one that was all theirs!

Some months later, the big day arrived, and Jimmy had his prize possession in the form of a bright red mini. Next to his family, it was the apple of his eye, and having taken so long to get one, he took great care of his car. The family lived on the 12th floor of a high rise block of flats, and did not own a garage, so he could look out of his window to see that his car was still there. Of course it always was, but he didn’t like it when it rained and the car got wet. So he would rush down to the car park to dry off his car. After all, it could get rusty he reckoned. To further protect his investment, every week Jimmy was found washing and polishing his car. It was the brightest and shiniest example of automotive engineering you would ever find.

On one of the family’s regular car journeys into the very hilly Scottish countryside, the unthinkable happened. It was a perfect storm. With a loud bang, the car shuddered to a dramatic halt at the side of the road pouring smoke and steam into the air and fortunately everyone was safe. Mary was distressed, and the boys thought it was an adventure, but Jimmy was worried about the safety of his dear wife and sons. After calling the AA, they sat tight on the embankment a safe distance away from the lopsided, still smoking car, at the side of the road. It didn’t take long for roadside assistance to arrive and figure out what was wrong. Then came the embarrassing questions. “When was the last time you put air in your tyres?”,  “When did you last check your oil level, and the fluid in the radiator?” Jimmy’s car was lovely to look at, but wasn’t healthy under the bonnet.

Jimmy’s problem, and possibly ours too, is that he never referred to the owner’s handbook. If he did, he would have avoided the perfect storm of a tyre blowout, low oil level, and little coolant in the radiator. I wonder which of life’s essential lessons we miss when we don’t consult the handbook we have to avoid those storms, or if we can’t avoid them, to be prepared for them! We have the freedom to own and read the Bible, but are we like Jimmy who made sure his car looked good, but he didn’t read the very book that would have helped keep him and his precious family eternally safe? Jimmy now reads his car manual, but it took a near disaster before he knew how important it was. How about us, and I include myself in this? Have we neglected the best and only set of instructions for this life on earth? Do we give the Bible the prominence it needs and deserves in our lives? We might not be able to avoid all those near disasters that life throws at us, but we can be better prepared for them. Our owner’s handbook shows how important it is to look after our interior in these words:

What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs—beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with ….all sorts of impurity. Matthew 23:27 NLT

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