Car trouble often starts as a small problem. First, your brakes emanate a screeching sound like an injured animal. Then the engine, which once purred like a kitten, resembles a bad tap dance routine. You notice that the dent near the right front tire, from your latest fender bender, has left giant nicks on the little bit of tread left on your nearly bald tires. The fuel light is on 85% of the time, but you don’t know if you are low on gas or if the dashboard lights are malfunctioning, again. Ugh. It’s such a pain to deal with it all, and you know deep in your gut that fixing the car will be costly. Such has been the state of my heart for the last year. Broken, in dire need of repair.
Music has always been my first step when readying my heart to be receptive to God’s voice. Typically, I will search my playlist for the right song(s) that will unlock my resistance to stillness. On one particular day, nothing resonated, up till I happened upon an album new to my playlist. The first line of “Honest to God,” written by Devin Dawson, was an epiphany of sorts. Even though in early June I had started to jot notes about my “car trouble,” as Devin’s lyrics washed over my soul, my June musings were confirmed. I was a broken down wreck.
“You can only go so long, running on fumes before the warning signs and the orange lights start turning on you. ‘I don’t need any help; I can do it by myself,’ only gets you so far before it starts weighing down on your heart. So here goes nothing. Honest to God, I ain’t been honest to God. I’m falling apart. And I can’t keep putting this off.”
I was aware of the warning signs. I saw the dents, heard the screeching brakes and knew I was low on fuel. Only our upcoming sabbatical kept me going. My daily mantra was “If I can just make it another mile before the wheels fall off.”
If by chance you followed our travels on Instagram, you know we drove 1,625 miles west for the first portion of our sabbatical. With the dawning of our second morning in New Mexico, as I paced back and forth, back and forth in the living area without saying a word it hit me—my uninvited, broken down self made the cross country trip too. As ridiculous as that sounds, I believe that even as believers we think that a vacation, a new job, a new spouse, perhaps a younger looking face, more money or more time will fix our brokenness. Possibly a simple admission of guilt coupled with an apology from one who has wounded us would ease the overwhelming sense that something is terribly wrong. Intellectually we understand that none of that helps, but we still pull over to the side of the road to change our threadbare tire in exchange for the spare, which is only good for 25 miles.
Recently, Jimmy shared a profound thought with me. “We have been broken down wrecks since the fall of man—all of us. Brokenness is not like the flu where some get it, and some don’t.” Scripture is abundantly clear about our condition. Sin has ruined us. It clings to us like a stench, and we are incapable of eliminating the odor. Contrary to the clear message the world sends out, we are not perfect beings that need a little bit of maintenance.
Needing Jesus as my savior is not a new concept. I believe his crucifixion was a necessary payment for my sins. However, my strong-willed self-suggests, “I don’t need any help; I can do it by myself.” And that is a big, fat lie.