June 2016

Pastoral Ponderings . . .
Dear God,
Tell me it’s not irritating to you when your car doesn’t run well. OK, so maybe you can’t quite relate to that, but I’m a bit irritated because my ’53 MG-TD isn’t running smoothly.
I’ve had a long love/hate relationship with cars, and my dad always told me I was “car poor”: investing my time and money into cars when it could have been better used.
Remember my first car? I bought a 1963 Volkswagen Beetle when I was 15. My dad’s friend, John, worked on Volkswagens in his spare time, largely, I believe, to supplement his stock in Budweiser. If I remember correctly I paid $50 for my pride and joy: money saved from my jobs cleaning stalls at local horse barns, which likely explains why I never took much of a cotton to horses! The World Wide Web tells me that in today’s money I would have spent nearly $3000 for that car!
The Bug was likely in pretty good shape when John got it. It ran well, the interior was nice, and he had just completed minor body work. John invited me to pick out the color so I went to the auto parts store and picked out the loudest, brightest green my eyes could handle. Think “Bright Green”, “Neon Green”, “Hurt-Your Eyes, Green”, then wear sunglasses!
It was a chick-magnet! (Well, in my head.) The only problem was that since I was only 15 I had to allow my sister, June, to drive me everywhere…which, obviously, wasn’t something the chicks were really “magnetized” to. That stung! It’s the sort of “sting” that my therapist said I should get over.
The Bug started my long love affair with cars, and at one point I was actually pretty good at working on them, even restoring a ’69 Corvette and a ’67 Mustang convertible. I had a long succession of cars over the years…a ’57 Chevy, ’64 Impala, ’68 Javelin, ’63 MG-B, ’73 Z-28, two Corvettes, a ’46 Chevy, ’48 Ford flatty, and various others. I had gotten to the point that I was willing to take on most anything that could be given to me. Over the years, however, I got out of cars and into woodwork, and I’m embarrassed to say how much I’ve forgotten.
So, back to the topic: I’m irritated that my little car doesn’t run well. The real irritation is that I know what the problem is…I just don’t know how to fix it. Actually, I sort of know how to fix it, but my confidence isn’t what it used to be.
The issue is that the carburetors are running “rich” (too much fuel in the fuel/air ratio). Too much fuel and the engine bogs down, the spark plugs get dirty, and car labors (and occasionally belches smoke). On the other hand, if the carburetors are running too “lean” (not enough fuel in the fuel/air ratio) it can hurt the engine and burn up pieces. What I need to do is learn how to balance the carburetors to allow me to hum along with the top down and the wind whipping through my hair!
But that’s the issue, isn’t it? It’s always about balance.
Sometimes I’m clueless about my lack of balance until someone points it out to me. Other times I see it but choose to ignore it until things get worse (which they always do if unattended). Sometimes I have no idea how to regain balance in my life. Other times I’m so overwhelmed by the imbalance in life that I just give up. And sometimes I have just lost my confidence. Balance, whether carburetors or in life, is always the key.
I bought a service manual for my MG. It’s pretty cursory, but it shows me some things. I have to admit, however, that I’m better when someone shows me the way rather than just reading it in a book.
When I’m out of balance in my life I turn to the Bible: another service manual. I see that Jesus found balance through submission to you, serving others, going to the hills to pray, teaching and listening, healing the world around him when he was able, speaking kindly, taking time to worship, and sacrificing for others…even when he knew it would be one-sided.
So, Lord, help me to choose action to find balance in my life, and inspire me to get off my car seat to do the work I need to do to hold on to that most significant of gifts. Along the way, if you could get someone to show me how to synch my carburetors I’d appreciate it.
As always, thanks for listening. I love you, Dan