This post is dedicated to my friends Joel and Erin, who once upon a time stood outside in the dark, talking with Steve and me after Katie’s high school senior dinner. Joel and I discussed blogging, but neither of us was much into starting one. I mused that if I WERE to start a blog, it would be something like The Compost Heap or The Compost Pile, since I seemed to be going through a lot of crappy stuff at the time. I told Erin this jalopy story to explain where it felt we were in our marriage, and she encouraged me to write it up. Many years later, here it is, just for her…
It started innocently enough. The longing for a life together. We had a way to get there. An old jalopy. Sure it was a bit rusty in parts, and the seat cushion had a rip. The tires were balding, and there was this funny rattling noise when you ran it for awhile. Oh, and there was that syrupy smell accompanied by steam escaping from under the hood. Only sometimes.
But it ran. And it didn’t look too bad. It even passed inspection, meeting the minimum standard for roadworthiness. It would get us where we needed to go for now. Where was that, again?
Sure there were those who had advice. They recommended inspection by a professional to identify any mechanical issues that might fail later, but we were trusting God. He would take care of us and any issues that arose. We wanted to get started, not be hindered by the additional stress or delay of an inspection that would identify potential problems that we would need to stop and repair.
We hopped in our beloved jalopy and took off. Some people tried to hand us a map, but we declined the offer. What did they know about where we were headed? God would lead us to where He wanted us to go. We were off. Together.
The road was wide open before us. We felt young and free and full of possibilities. We couldn’t wait for God to start adding passengers to the jalopy. Add passengers, He did.
How did we end up off road? It’s hard to tell. Maybe it was that detour we took, following that smart-looking SUV which was fully equipped for the off-road adventure. Those bumper stickers indicated that it was headed in a truly biblical direction.
More tension. More strife. More breakdowns. More people. More broken. More lost.
Maybe we should paint over the rust and add new tires. Maybe covering this rip in the seat will make the ride more comfortable. Let’s try following that Jeep over there. We can’t go that way, because we are not equipped.
What is happening? We are stuck.
Stuck off road in our broken-down jalopy with new tires and a decent paint job and hand-sewn slipcovers for the seats. Stuck in the middle of a swampy, brambly, dark forest with no seeming way out and eight pairs of eyes watching and eight mouths piping up and ten times the strife.
What do we do now?
Wait. Trust. Pray. Hope.
When it seemed hope was gone, and we were trapped in a mess of our own creating, a way was made. Individuals came along offering words of encouragement, clearing away the overgrowth, carrying the extra people to places of safety and healing, hooking up our jalopy to a stronger vehicle and pulling us up to the road.
We were found and freed. The old jalopy was sent to the mechanic for major repairs and was out of commission for quite awhile.
We’ve gotten it back and are getting back in. Together. Here we go!