Posted by: karanoel | October 12, 2019

An extravagant gift

My Jeep was having some major engine trouble that our very trustworthy mechanic said was beyond his ability to repair. It needed to be taken to the dealership, he told us, and would likely cost thousands to fix. Not something you ever want to hear, especially about a car that you love and has met your needs so well. Last Thursday, John swapped cars with me so he could take it to the dealership to assess the issues and cost. When he got home from work that day – earlier than usual – he asked me to come out front to see the work they did. That seemed a little suspect since major work is rarely done in a single day and because John knows I’m not the kind of girl who enjoys looking at an engine, no matter how fixed it is. “Did you trade it in?,” I quickly queried. “Just come and see,” he responded.

Sitting in our circular driveway, in place of my broken Jeep, was my dream car. Not one I ever planned on owning, mind you (the Jeep was nicer than anything I ever expected to call mine); just one I’d fallen in love with many years ago when my brother had one on loan. Yet, there it sat in my driveway, its gorgeous lines gleaming white in the afternoon sun, as my husband handed me the keys and called it mine. To say I was shocked would be an understatement. I repeatedly looked from his delighted face to the beautiful SUV and back, asking if he was crazy. It seemed far too nice and fancy for the likes of me.

This was not an impulse buy. John had been researching for quite a while – even before the bad report on the Jeep – grilling my car buff brother and scouring the internet, determined to find just the right one, in the colors I love, at a price we could afford. And then, after waiting for it to be transferred locally, he spent several hours at the dealership tending to details and filling out paperwork so he could walk through the door and hand me the keys. 

I would like to say that I graciously received this amazing gift, but I struggled. Receiving love has always been hard for me. I guess it feels scary or I feel undeserving. Or both. Walls go up to keep it out or just let little trickles in. This felt like a waterfall. It was so extravagant. When I went for a cup of tea the next morning, I was gone for an hour, driving this delightfully fun and powerful car down long roads with the sunroof wide open and the windows down, weeping. I felt so humbled and so loved. And I didn’t quite know where to put that.

And then I started thinking of what it would look like to others; how this would misrepresent my “humility;” the fact that I have never been one to strive for – or even want – materialistic things. They would judge me or make assumptions about me. I know because I’ve done the same, sizing up the values, priorities and even the character of those with expensive belongings. This was quickly followed by the fear that by accepting this gift and enjoying something so nice, I would be ever closer to becoming materialistic; that by choosing to handle, taste and touch (Col 2:21-23), my flesh would run rampant with greed.

So on Sunday, which happened to be John’s birthday, I told him I was grateful for the gesture and loved the car, but I simply couldn’t keep it. No siree. It just didn’t represent me as a person and was insensitive to others who don’t have nice things and it just felt wrong. I would take advantage of the dealership’s return policy and exchange it for something nice, but less so; something that looked and felt more humble. He seemed deflated and hurt and didn’t understand, but he gave me the paperwork and freedom to get what I wanted. 

The following day, my mom and I sat in many, many cars and test drove the best. They were all nearly the same price as the one John bought me but appeared to be at least slightly more humble, so even though none could even begin to compare in quality, design or delight, I still earnestly considered them. Until I realized my foolishness. In the few days of owning the car, I had experienced – for probably the first time ever – the desire to drive. Not just for the sake of getting from one point to the other, but to enjoy the experience of it. And yet, because of fear and false humility, I was about to spurn this generous gift from a heart of love. So I decided instead to step into the true humility it takes to receive something lavish that I did nothing to earn or deserve; to receive it with joy and gratitude, letting the waterfall of love pour over me each time I take to the road.

Since I made that decision, my heart has been softened in a way I can’t quite explain. Love – not just from John, but from heaven – has penetrated the walls. It is changing me. And I’m wanting to return it like never before. I am seeing my judgment and self-righteousness and realizing that just as we can have pride about the things we own, we can also have pride about the things we don’t. I have a tangible picture of the lavish nature of grace… so unearned; so heart-softening and life-changing; so much greater than anything we would choose for ourselves. How deeply we hurt the heart of the Giver when we, in self-righteousness, choose lesser things and spurn the gift of love so painstakingly sought out for us. But what great joy it is to Him when we humble our hearts to receive it with gratitude because by receiving His gift of grace, we are really receiving Him. As we do this, we will find that we have exchanged the drudgery of getting from point A to point B in this life for the joy of unrestrained power and the wind in our hair on the long roads ahead.

Open Road

*photo courtesy of CineGeek


Responses

  1. This blog alone was worth the price of the car (:-).

    On Sat, Oct 12, 2019 at 9:13 AM where waves grow sweet wrote:

    > karanoel posted: “My Jeep was having some major engine trouble that our > very trustworthy mechanic said was beyond his ability to repair. It needed > to be taken to the dealership, he told us, and would likely cost thousands > to fix. Not something you ever want to hear, especi” >

    • I’m glad you think so! Who knew car purchases were such a deeply spiritual journey? 🙂

  2. […] insistence to swap out the new car John gave me highjacked the rest of the day so we were unable to celebrate Cole the way I would […]


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