Monday, September 17, 2012

Road Tested

My wife and I just bought a new car.  Well, new to us, at least.  That was some of the debate, in fact, during the whole “joyous” car buying process: Should we buy new or used?  There are advantages to both, of course, and as this isn’t a car-advice column I won’t get into that side of things too much.  So, for me, I admit that perhaps the biggest non-quantifiable factor I kept coming back to was, “How would the car do on long road trip?” 
Perhaps this is some erroneous thinking on my part, but I’m always worried about how my car will do on the ‘long trip’.  My thinking is that if a car breaks down close to home, I’ll be okay.  Sure, I’ll get frustrated, I’ll reach for my wallet, but in the end I know I will be fine.  After all, around home I have friends or family that can help me out.  Perhaps give me a ride, or loan me a car if I need it.  I have the mechanic that I know and trust to go to first, before I need to go anywhere else.  Around home, I have the resources I trust to get me through whatever my car problem might be.
            But on the road, well, that’s another issue entirely.  If my car breaks down when I’m far from home, suddenly I’m much more nervous.  I don’t have the family or friends to rely on, at least not in the same way.  I can’t ask too many people to drive hundreds of miles just for a lift.  And as for that trusted mechanic, he’s a ridiculously expensive tow-truck trip away.  I’m in trouble out on the road, which really is my big fear.  Again, right or not, this was my thinking, and it helped make my car buying decision.
            Since then, I’ve been thinking.  This feels to me more and more akin to how I feel about my faith as well.  Do you ever feel the same way?  My faith doesn’t worry me in the normal, day-to-day routines of my life.  When I go about a regular day: school, work, home, there is nothing that makes me think, “Oh, I hope my faith will hold up to all of this.”  I’m ready for everything, or at least so I think.  And if something were to put a bump into my path: I get a project at work that is a little more than I can handle.  Some stress at home affects my relationship with my kids.  In those times I know I have the resources around me to call on for help.  Family and friends, a local church perhaps, they’re all quickly at my disposal for just such a fix and overhaul.
However, it’s when I get out of my routine, when I go on the hard, long trips in my life that suddenly I begin to wonder if my faith will hold up.  When my road ahead suddenly has a long-term medical issue that is far beyond routine, I question if my faith is strong enough to hold up, and not break down along the way.  Or maybe I hit what I think is just a little financial pothole, only it turns out to be something much worse.  It’s a job loss that now means I’m on a long, scary road that I haven’t been on before and with no exit in sight.  Those routine check-ups I should have been doing, but have been skipping, suddenly worry me.  Time in prayer, growing closer in my walk with God, those things that would really give me assurance on my now tough road ahead.  Now I’m asking, “Did I do it enough to know that my faith is strong and ready?”  Is my faith read for a long hard trip, one that I might not even known I was about to take?
            These are the tough questions we should ask when it comes to our faith, but I feel that we rarely do.  Which is so ironic.  When you think about how much thought and energy I went into just to buy a car, shouldn’t I put the same energy and foresight into something far more necessary and important to my everyday life?
            How is your faith?  Ready for the long haul?  Ready to be road-tested?  And, if not, what can you do to be prepared for your next road trip?  It may be time for a tune-up.  Sure it will take time, but better now than after you’re already stranded on the road!

Don't go to church, Be the Church!

Bill Walles

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