The Mechanics of Grace
How a battered and broken car is a reminder that love and grace can transform a sorry mess into something special. By Heather Skull
My friend’s daughter recently had a car accident. Thankfully, she wasn’t hurt.
Photo: Serge Bertasius Photography / freedigitalphotos.net
But her car was left seriously damaged in the incident and this young woman knew two things. Firstly, that the car would in all probability be written off by the insurance company and secondly, she couldn’t afford to buy a new one.
Her situation was looking desperate. She needed the car to get to work as public transport wasn’t really a credible alternative. Added to that was inevitably some feelings of guilt: after all, the accident had been her fault.
It was all a bit of a sorry mess. Her car was broken. She had no money. Everything must have looked particularly bleak.
So she did exactly what I would have done in the same situation: she rang her Dad. Knowing my friend, I have no doubt that he listened and sympathized and understood. I also suspect that he was more than relieved she wasn’t hurt. He may well have gently established that it had all been her fault – but I suspect he wouldn’t have admonished her.
And then he did something practical. He offered to fix the car. As he told her, it was something that he could do and help her with.
I am sure that his daughter was instantly reassured. She had handed over a broken and sorry mess to the person who knew how to fix it.
And she knew he would.
It may well be that he didn’t promise to have it done by a particular time, but his promise remained a faithful one. ‘Leave it with me,’ he might have said, and his daughter, knowing from experience that he would do what he said he would, trusted him to do it. I’m sure it didn’t stop her occasionally texting and calling – maybe slightly anxiously – to find out how the project was coming along, but underneath was the assurance that her Dad had promised to help her and – in his own good time – he would.
Today, I saw a picture of that repaired car next to one of the car as it had arrived on my friend’s drive. I was astonished that such a bashed in, sorry-looking mess could have been transformed into something so shiny and special.
And as I stared at the pictures, I felt a real lump in my throat.
The car had been repaired. But it had been MORE than repaired. There was something very beautiful about that photograph. It wasn’t just the difference between the broken car and the fixed one. It was the knowledge that my friend would have taken extra special care in the work that he had carried out because of the love he bore for his daughter.
He wanted what was best for her. He knew the need that she had and the challenges she would face if that need wasn’t met. He met her pain and upset with unconditional love and grace.
And he stepped in and he sorted it out.
There is something very encouraging about that.
I’ve been out of work now for more than two months. It’s beginning to really hurt that I can’t find the right job in the right place. I have the ongoing concern about how I’m going to make ends meet. And to be honest I feel more than a bit lost at times.
What is my faith for? Why isn’t God listening? Where is he and what is he doing?
I wish I had the answers. But I don’t. And I have no intention of trotting out trite answers to either myself - or anyone else come to that. I’d rather be honest and admit I don’t know why we find ourselves stuck in dark places where the battery on our torches to show the way out seems to be fading fast with no sign of somewhere to get a replacement.
All I believe I can do is keep taking the whole sorry mess to the one place where I remain convinced that – in the right time - it will be dealt with. Where a gentle smile and the kind, loving words, ‘Leave it with me,’ will send me away reassured that through love and grace something very shiny and special will come out of what seems like a wreck and a disaster.
Heather Skull is a former BBC Radio Wiltshire journalist and a member of Trowbridge Baptist Church. She blogs at tractorgirl66.wordpress.com, where this article first appeared