A “Bucket of Bolts”…


We had our annual Father’s Day auto show at Sagebrush Community Church in Albuquerque last weekend. Nobody really seemed to mind the desert sun that threatened to melt the tires into the asphalt. I watched hundreds of people meander up and down the aisles of driving machines, pausing  for a moment every now and then to get a closer look, munching on hotdogs and sipping soda.

I discovered that every car has a story. The old guys like me went back in time when they recalled their very first car. Some of the guys confessed stories about things that happened in their cars that could have landed them in jail if they’d gotten caught. The stories I enjoyed the most were the “restoration stories.”  I know this is hard to believe unless you’ve seen it with your own eyes, but some guys actually have picture albums of the whole process, much like a mom might have of her babies growing up over the years.

And it seems the more “trashed” the car was at the beginning of the process, the better. Variations of stories like, “Yep, she was nothing but a bucket of bolts when I got my hands on her,” and, “She’d been sittin’ in the barn for 40 years when I first laid eyes on her,” sometimes sprang up when I stopped to admire a particular car. (I’m not really sure why guys refer to cars with the feminine gender, but I think it might have something to do with a guy’s need to rescue his beauty…or something like that.)

As you might imagine, the whole scene made me think of God’s restoration process in my own life. I took my life off track—onto the demolition track of life—and made quite a mess of things. There were times when I felt as though I was irreparable—beyond hope. I know it sounds a little dramatic, but I felt as though I was good for nothing except the junk pile of broken down guys who were twisted and misshapen beyond repair.

But the Original Builder—the One who assembled me in my mother’s womb in the first place—went to work on me. As the guys at the car show would say, God began a frame-off restoration, right down to the foundation of my being. Every nut and bolt was inspected and replaced if necessary. The sheet metal that was banged up or rusted out was made new. And the engine was rebuilt with the finest components possible. Then God set me back on track as a witness to his amazing grace.

Now he has me on a rigorous maintenance program of daily washing with the Word, and refueling by the power of his Spirit at work within me. When I get banged up a little, he immediately goes to work fixing the damage, and restoring the shine to my spirit. And some day when I meet face to face with Jesus—the One who made the restoration possible—a part of me suspects he might have a picture album of my life. The album will remind me how his love transformed a wreck of a man into a guy with some shine that reflects just a hint of the splendor of his Designer.

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