Ah, the joy of a new car! It's the pride of ownership that I recently experienced in driving a vehicle that had neither scratch nor blemish. I took great care in staying away from runaway shopping carts slamming into me at the grocery store and not parking too close to other vehicles for fear of their doors opening and damaging the pristine finish on my baby. My new car daze came to an abrupt end however when I misjudged the distance of a high cement curb in the church parking lot and heard that awful crunch that signaled damage. An ugly dent and scrapped off paint now appeared on my right back bumper, the visible witness that my car no longer had the "new" in its title. From new to used in just three weeks!
What's worse is that all I could see when I now looked at my car was the dent. It probably covered less than 1% of the total surface of the vehicle but became its most visible feature because it ruined the perfection, the newness, the pride of ownership that the car had given me.
I'm leaving the dent there for now partly because it will be expensive to fix but also because it has begun to remind me of how I sometimes view myself. I don't like dents whether they are on my car or in my life. Dents like failure, weakness, or foolish words. Dings like dishonesty or lust. I want my life to always have that new car smell, but it doesn't, and that's always disappointing and often leads me to focus only on the dents.
Thankfully the Apostle Paul reminds me how to deal with this dent fixation when he says,
I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus is calling us.
- Philippians 3:13-14
Paul was one of those Apostles who had quite a few crashes in his life. He bore the scars of past failures, terrible suffering in his ministry career, and a debilitating physical affliction but his wise counsel to those who had difficulty with failure was to stay focused on the perfection of heaven given to all who believed and remained faithful to Jesus despite the collisions and damages they suffered.
I suppose that my car as well as life will eventually lose all of their "newness" and return to rust and dust one day. I'm thankful however that no matter how banged up I get here God has promised me that there will be no "dents" in my future life with Christ in heaven.
- Describe briefly your first car and/or your first car accident.
- What does your present car "say" about you?
- What do you think others say about you based on the car you drive?
- If you could instantly eliminate one "dent" in your life/character, which one would it be?
- Why this particular one?
- When you stop to examine your line of thinking, would you say that you regularly focus on the past or on the future? Why?
- Why do you think that Paul encouraged Christians to "forget the past" and remain focused on the future?