My An Arkie's Faith column from the March 16, 2016 issue of The Mena Star.
A few weeks ago I purchased a 1960 Rambler American. I have always loved these little cars. They are very simple with a small flathead six cylinder engine that produces 90 horsepower. If you are old enough you may remember the song, “Beep Beep.” “While riding in my Cadillac, what to my surprise. A little Nash Rambler was following me, about one third my size. The guy must have wanted to pass me up as he kept on tooting his horn. I'll show him that a Cadillac is not a car to scorn. Beep beep, beep beep, his horn went beep beep beep.” The song, popularized by The Playmates, featured a Rambler like mine.
When I bought the car the previous owner told me he had cleaned out the gas tank and rebuilt the carburetor. He assured me that it was drivable. The first time I drove the little Rambler it quit running. I was able to pull over to the side of the road. Just as I got out of the car to see what was wrong, a friend of mine stopped to see if I needed help. He pushed me back to my shop with his 1961 Pontiac. I can only imagine what the passers by thought seeing an old Pontiac pushing the little Rambler down the road.
Since the gas gauge didn’t work I thought that it might just be out of gas. I put several gallons in the tank and the little Rambler started right up. That night I was driving it home and once again the little Rambler quit running. With the help of some other motorists I was able to push it to the side of the road. I was able to get the engine started again and headed to the gas station. After filling the tank I started out again but the little Rambler just didn’t want to run. I had to call my Dad and have him help me pull the car back to my shop. When I told my wife about the days experience she told me, “You need to get rid of that car.”
The next morning I determined that the fuel pump wasn’t working. After replacing the pump the little Rambler fired up and ran smoothly. I was ready for another drive. This time it ran perfectly, but when I returned to my shop I noticed a stream of coolant running out from under the front end of the car. After checking out the leak I found that I needed a new water pump. I had also noticed that the steering was loose. When I had replaced the water pump and a tie rod end, the little Rambler was ready to drive.
Did I still love the little Rambler? She had given me a lot of trouble. I had yet to take a drive in her that didn’t end badly. I didn’t get upset with the little car when things went wrong. I knew it wasn’t a new car when I bought it. My first drive after the repairs was to Cossatot River State Park, which is eighty miles round trip. The little Rambler rambled right along without any trouble. There were rattles, creaks and groans, but the engine ran fine. It was a beautiful afternoon and I loved driving the little Rambler.
The Bible tells us in Romans 5:8(NLT) that, “God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” God loves us in our broken down imperfect state. Sometimes we feel that we have to become good before God can love us. But we learn in Isaiah 64:6 (AMPC) that, “our best deeds of rightness and justice are like filthy rags or a polluted garment.” We can never become good enough to deserve God’s love. Just like I loved my little Rambler even when she wasn’t running, God loves us in our sinful condition. The Apostle Paul said, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. And I am the worst of those sinners.” 1 Timothy 1:15 (ICB)
Because God loves us He wants better things for us. Peter explains the process in 2 Peter 1:5-7 (NCV), “Because you have these blessings, do your best to add these things to your lives: to your faith, add goodness; and to your goodness, add knowledge; and to your knowledge, add self-control; and to your self-control, add patience; and to your patience, add service for God; and to your service for God, add kindness for your brothers and sisters in Christ; and to this kindness, add love.”
Even though I didn’t get rid of the little Rambler when it seemed that I would never be able to drive it without a break down, I did want to improve it. Gentle Reader, God is the same way with us. He tells us that “nothing can ever separate us from His love” Romans 8:38 (NLT), but Jesus came to “save His people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21 (ESV) He wants a relationship with us. He wants to improve us.