Articles

Written by Don Walter
From his column A Minute with Donminute-with-don-11-15-1

When last we visited, I was telling you about my automotive adventure that led me to purchase a wonderful seat-hugging used car in my home state of Iowa. Returning to Kansas, I pulled into my driveway and got out to open the garage doors. With the doors up, I climbed back in, fired up the engine and put it in gear. At that point my “new” car gave every indication it would rather roll backwards than proceed up my driveway. Worse than this, however, was the scolding it was giving me. Dashboard lights flashed out a warning. My new friend was suddenly angry and wanted me to know that its transmission was really ill.

I’d had some experience with this make of car, so I knew there are times when they develop an attitude. Not knowing how to proceed, I turned off the engine and retreated to the house.

As I mentioned last time, I live a conflicted life when it comes to cars. I like them with whistles and bells, but I don’t want to pay a lot for them, and I’m generally not one who handles mechanical challenges with peaceful serenity. A car problem represents time and schedule disruptions—and pocketbook pain. But in this particular situation for some reason, I experienced an unusual sense of peace.

I called my wife who asked, “Are you okay?” Interestingly, I was able to assure her I wasn’t having thoughts of Armageddon, as might be the usual case. When I told her, “It’s just a car,” she sounded worried.

Next, I called the saleslady in Iowa. She too was concerned and assured me of the dealer’s commitment to stand behind their vehicle. She then phoned her general manager, explained what had happened, and got his reassurance that they would take care of the problem. My mind found comfort in her words to take it to any dealer I trusted to provide good care, and they would make it right.

This all happened on a Saturday evening, providing me plenty of time to stew and fret until Monday morning. Over the years, I’ve honed the art of stewing and fretting to a fine edge. I hate to admit it, but my DNA seems to be hard-wired into stew and fret mode. I guess spending over three decades of looking after other people’s money can do that to a fellow. But, again, for some unfamiliar reason, the fretful thoughts of “What am I going to do if…” didn’t overwhelm me. I was at peace.

On Sunday morning, I was reminded that both humans and cars work best when they spend regular, quality time with their maker. With that in mind, I headed to church.

On Monday morning, it was time for the car to visit its maker. A call to the Iowa dealership brought reassurance that they indeed would cover the costs to make the car right. Within minutes, a truck pulled in front of my house to haul my sick friend to a repair shop. The truck had an angel on its side, just above the name, “Almighty Tow.” Maybe God was trying to tell me something.

Three days later, the repair shop called. They found more than than one problem, and with additional problems come additional expense. The dialogue between me and the dealerships began. Still, I was possessed by a serenity that enabled me to converse calmly with all concerned. While I received verbal assurance of the seller’s commitment to fix the car, the manager charged with authorizing the payment was on vacation in a remote location with limited cell phone access. I’d have to wait a while more for resolution.

Fortunately, on his first day back to work, one of his primary items of business was the review and approval of repairs for the mechanical issues of my new vehicle. It wasn’t going to be cheap, but the company was going to stand behind their product and cover all repairs. He added that the value of having a satisfied customer and a good name as a car dealer was more important that saving a few dollars.

A couple of days later, I picked up the car with all repairs completed and no charges passed along to me. The repair service representative indicated it looked like I had a pretty good car after all. It’s still early in my ownership experience, but this vehicle has already provided me with some valuable reminders, not the least of which is the blessing of working with people who keep their promises. Also, a still, small voice has reminded me once again that if I can find peace in working with humans who keep promises, how much more peace should I find in trusting a God who does the same?

Don Walter is director of Pensions and Benefits USA for the Church of the Nazarene.

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