For the beauty of the earth, For the beauty of the skies,
For the love which from our birth Over and around us lies,
Lord of all, to thee we raise This our grateful hymn of praise.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Detailing and Sin--What, you don't think about that while you're washing the car?

For those who don't know, I have a thing about my cars. I always have, just never acted on it until recently. As a young girl, cars fascinated me. I wanted to take auto-mechanics in high school but the high school counselor discouraged me...because I was a girl. My grandfather told me he could teach me what I needed to know. This apparently consisted of changing a tire and monitoring my gas mileage. The one repair he asked my help with went kind of like this. He told me the problem, I told him the solution. I don't know how I knew. I just intuitively knew (after years of watching auto racing with him and listening to guys talk about cars, ;)). He rebuffed me and told me I needed to run through a check list before I jumped to a conclusion. Tuned out I was right. End of my lessons on the cars. Even my own grandfather couldn't stand to be one-upped by a girl. This was to be the pattern for the rest of my life. Any time men were talking about a car problem, if I gave the correct "diagnosis" they were pretty incensed  Eventually I had kids and got busy talking to other moms about girly things that girly moms enjoy and tried to be content. But I hated it. It wasn't who I was.

Not long ago I embraced orneriness and said the heck with what other people think (OK, I think I probably used stronger language, ;)) and started at the easiest thing you can do with your car besides adding fluids or replacing the wipers...I started to clean and detail both the Honda and the Monster Van. We've owned the Honda for nearly 10 years, bought new, and we've owned the Monster Van about eight years, bought used after it was retired from a van pool. In that time I probably only need two hands to count how many times they've actually been thoroughly cleaned, and they've never been detailed. Needless to say they were a mess. They needed A LOT of work, especially in the detailing department. If you're ever in my cars you will see they are far from being complete and the reason is it would take probably two weeks of straight work by me to completely detail the Honda the way I'd like, and at least four weeks for the Monster Van. To show you how I came by my numbers I have inserted this incredibly awesome video from KC Detailing in Kansas. If you don't want to watch the whole video, though I can't imagine why you wouldn't, you can read the description and it will tell you what I'll be referring to.

It took at least four people, working for 25 hours, to completely detail this practically new car. As fun as that sounds, I have only one afternoon a week to work on my cars...and now that Nutcracker season is here, I have only time to clean one of the cars a week.

As you can see, the idea of completely cleaning my cars in one day is absurd. But my mind still goes there. I think, if only I could just get every inch clean. If I could spend another hour on the upholstery, or maybe the vinyl, then I could stand to look at it during the week. It's a work in progress but sometimes my perfectionist side can't stand it. Instead of seeing the parts I've done so far and realizing that just coz the other stuff isn't done doesn't mean I haven't done enough, I see what has to be done next week, or in two weeks, as the case may be.

I was thinking this today as I vacuumed the back of the Monster Van. See, what really needs to be done is all the seats need to be taken out so I can give it a good vacuuming inside...especially since Mr. Great-heat spilled a huge bag of Chewy Mini-Sweet-Tarts in there yesterday. Man, you would not believe where I found those tiny things. They really roll while you're driving. The sides in the back are also particularly nasty looking. So I began to run though the list of all the things that needed to be done just to this one vehicle. I can tell you it's pretty overwhelming. But even more overwhelming would be the need to have it all done today.

As I thought of this it seemed to correlate with my thoughts on my spiritual life of late, and of a book I've been reading, Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility by DA Carson. I'll write more about the book later, but I've mostly been struggling with something I know many, many people struggle with (I know this coz there is quite a bit written on the subject) why I still do things, struggle with things, or am blind sometimes to things that are sinful in my life.

For those of you who don't know, I have attended church my whole life but I would only consider myself being a Christian some time in the last year. Not because of struggles with sin, but for the lack of struggle. It's a long story which I will write more about later, but suffice to say, I consider myself fairly new to a true Christian walk. And sometimes it's pretty discouraging. At the beginning it seemed things were going along so quickly. It was a little scary but it was nice to finally be dealing with these things. Sins I had never even thought of as sins were apparent and seemed so easily "thrown off." Now, though, I feel that they have piled much dirt un-dealt with over too long a time. And the consequences...oh, don't get me started on the consequences of the choices I made before my conversion. They don't just disappear when you are saved, just in case you didn't know. ;)

I ask God, "Why?" Why do people have to suffer with the consequences of my choices? Why am I still making bad choices? Why is it that I finally get one thing under control and another thing I didn't even realize I was doing pops into my head and I realize it is a sin?

I propose that, like my mess in my cars, if I had to work on all my sins at once, if God revealed every nasty thing about me in one fell swoop, I would be so overwhelmed I really would crawl into bed and never come out. I could not face it. I could not go on because I have a heck of a lot to work on.

Fortunately, God is incredibly merciful and slowly peels it back, like layers of an onion, to reveal the next thing we need to work on. It still hurts, it still stings, but if he did it all at once, we wouldn't be able to handle it any more than I can handle the idea of detailing either of my cars all in one day. He knows our strengths and our weaknesses. He knows how frail we really are.

In the car department, there will be a day when my cars will look like I want them to. It won't be for at least a year (I need some more heavy duty equipment than I actually own now) but some day it will be just a matter of maintenance. That day will never come in my Christian walk. I will always have something that God needs to reveal to me, something that I'm doing against His Word. It's the sin nature and I have to come to terms with that and be thankful He didn't leave me where He found me. Besides, I know the fantasies I have about other people's cars. Their dirty cars. Once I'm done with mine, it will be hard to resist the urge to offer to clean and detail other people's cars. It's none of my business how filthy their cars are. I think that as Christians, if we came to a point where all we had to do was "maintain" we'd start fantasizing about "fixing" other Christians, and I can definitely imagine how annoying that would be. 


  1. I'm not really a "car girl" - but I do like to clean them out occasionally and "detail" a little....
    BUT I just wanted to say your whole post made a WHOLE LOTTA SENSE to me! Thanks for sharing - that was actually a super analogy!!! And yep, I totally relate.

    1. Thanks. :) Praying for your job decision, btw. And, if you guys go, I'll be praying that your house sells quickly so you don't have two "rents."