She got me from A to B economically and reliably; was road-worthy; and had everything I needed (except air conditioning & a CD player). Simply put, she was perfectly simple - and completely fulfilled her role to transport me.
After sorting out all the 'stolen goods' paperwork, I remembered that there was a live online auction website that listed repossessed cars seized by police and insurance companies. I visited it, hoping to spend my insurance money wisely. I happened to find a couple of great looking cars I wanted to buy, but with only a couple of auctions to go before my desired vehicles came under the hammer, I realised I had no idea how the process worked.
As I was watching a random auction happen before my eyes, the auctioneer started the bidding for this pink Hyundai at $2,000. With no bidders, the price came down to $1,500; $1,200; $1,000; $800; $600 and then eventually $400. I thought "what the heck, this will allow me to figure out how the process works, because the reserve won't be set to $400." I clicked 'Bid'.
Little did I know, but someone at the auction in person offered $400 at the same time as me, so by the time my finger clicked 'Bid' the price jumped up to $600. All of a sudden my body went cold, as a horrible fear came over me. I let out a terrified scream - "NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!" But that was okay, at least the reserve hadn't been met.
Then the auctioneer came on again "I've just heard that we have met the reserve, this car will sell".
In a panic, I jumped to my feet and continued screaming at the computer "SOMEONE BUY THE CAR, SOMEONE BUY THE CAR" before the immortal words were said "SOLD, to the online bidder, well done to you".
I didn't feel like I had done well at all, Mr Patronising Auctioneer.
Simply put, this car was atrocious. There was a reason they were happy to sell it for only $600 - it was missing door handles and the entire driver's side panel; it had duct tape holding the dashboard in place and all four tyres were completely worn. Worst of all, it had a bent chassis - meaning that the car was essentially a write off. "Give me back my four-gear beauty!"
The thing is, I have always believed that big-value, everyday items like cars and computers are things that we take for granted...until they stop working (or turn up with a bent chassis). As soon as they break we realise just how little we know about their inner mechanics - or how much we have relied on them always being there.
That is fine when there are people who can fix them, or places where we can get new ones. But there are also plenty of other "vehicles" that we rely on - that metaphorically transport us from one place to another; for instance, sadness to happiness, doubt to confidence, feeling 'in need' to feeling content. Some people plug into music, others rely on the company of friends, others use 'therapies' like eating and shopping.
The reality is that we are the ones in control of these decisions and the way in which we choose to be transported. That holds true, too, for those of us who hold on to a vehicle of faith.
And that has got me thinking.
For some of us, our faith gets us to where we need to go; for others of us, it hasn't been tuned up in a while and needs an outsider's observation. And still there are others of us who continue with a faith that has a bent chassis, from an accident or serious incident. Perhaps it was an action that happened, or some words that were spoken - or possibly the absence of one or both of these things.
While we know that cars require constant maintenance, do we believe the same for our faith? If our faith's spiritual tyres were worn through, or its dashboard was held together by duct tape, wouldn't we be quick to get these mended? Would we still be staunch defenders of it?
Presuming that we are salt and light in the world, what do people see of our faith? What happens if someone wants what we have? Is the faith that we hold onto reliable and road-worthy? Safe for passengers?
It doesn't matter if it's simple. It doesn't matter if it's not as cool as what you had in the past. But please take this on board - especially if your faith is up for inspection or being passed on to others:
Please make sure it doesn't have a bent chassis.
Go and get that fixed.
No one wants to inherit a vehicle like that.
Matt Browning is a storyteller and lover of ideas. He is currently setting up a social enterprise for youth unemployment in Rotorua, New Zealand – taking youth who are dropping out of high school or coming out of youth prison, and hiring them full time so that they can get the experience needed to be hired in the future.
Matt Browning's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/matt-browning.html