"For with God nothing shall be impossible." (Luke 1:37)
That verse comes from the Biblical account of the angel Gabriel's announcement to Mary that she would become the virgin mother of the Messiah. It fits right in with this season, and it fits right in with this piece. It was exactly one year ago today, on December 21, 2014, that my 1995 Subaru Impreza died! The car had 270,911 miles on its odometer. I can't help but think that the "911" was significant!
December 21, 2014 was a Sunday. On that Sunday, my wife Mary Ann was directing the children's Christmas drama at Bread of Life Church, just like she did yesterday. She stayed up in northern Worcester County the night before. Early on Sunday morning, I got into the Subaru but there was no way it was going to start. It's a long story, but I not only drained the battery that morning, but in the process of doing that, I "fried" the engine. I was so disappointed! My heart had been set on attending that Christmas drama; then my "grown kids" Jon and Rachel were going to join Mary Ann and me at a restaurant for a nice Sunday meal. Instead, there was no trip to Westminster, and although December 21 was the shortest day of the year, as it is every year, it was a long and sad day for me that began a long and in some respects; a difficult year.
There is no way I can explain all the "whys or wherefores" of this, but I moved into Jon and Rachel's apartment due to its convenient location to my answering service job. I expected to be there for perhaps a week or two. It ended up being four weeks. I expected to be without a car for up to two weeks; instead, I went without my own car for five and a half months! I have actually seriously considered writing a book about that experience entitled, "Five and a Half Months". The one big problem with writing the book is time! I would need quite a bit of time to devote to it, and I just have not found the time to do it. I have come up with twelve titles of chapters for such a book, however, including, "A Month to Remember", "Lots of Snow and Lots of Tears", "Hyundai One and Hyundai Two", and "June 6, 2015".
My son Jon believed with all of his heart and soul that I was going to be supernaturally given a great used car which would cost me nothing. A couple of days after the Subaru's death, a guy I know who is a used car dealer bought a 1995 Saturn sedan at auction for a very low price and offered it to me at his very low price. I agreed to this (despite what Jon had told me). I spent almost a month waiting to get that car! There was a problem with the car's Title. Without a Title, there's no way the car could be registered. I waited and waited. There was all kinds of scrambling to some up with the Title, but ultimately my car dealer contact brought the car back to the auction and got his money back. There were several cars that came my way for reasonable prices during that five and a half months, including "Hyundai One and Hyundai Two". I came very close to buying some of them, but some of them "fell through" and in one case, after much prayer and thought, I decided to not borrow $1500. from a family member to buy a 1996 Saturn (not to be confused with the 1995 Saturn mentioned above). One person I know was very skeptical when I said somehow was God was going to provide a car for me. That person figuratively dumped a large bucket of ice water on my head in telling me me, "I'm a realist!". I was haunted by those words for weeks, and I had to fight against them and struggle to keep believing God to take care of me.
It's a long story, but I was given a car in early June: A 2001 silver Toyota Corolla. It's truly a miracle car and I don't think I ever get into that car without feeling "choked up" and deeply thankful. The most meaningful trip I took in the Toyota was with my son for his appearance on, "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" (the taping was in July). Ironically, that taping was in Stamford, Connecticut and the Toyota was a Connecticut car for its entire life history prior to my taking ownership of it.
This year, I not only attended the children's Christmas drama at Bread of Life Church, but I played a major part in the play! Yesterday, I had a great time acting in that program, and my "grown kids" joined my wife and me at a restaurant for Sunday dinner. We'd come full circle; a year had passed. I had lots of fun in the play, but I kept contrasting it with last year's death of the Subaru. I also felt "choked up" thinking of how good God has been to me.
My late mother literally spent half of her adult life deeply depressed. I've also been afflicted with this malady. She tended to think most people's lives were happy and carefree but that she was one of the few who suffered with pain, loss, heartache, and disappointment. My many years in the pastorate taught me that for every person who leads an essentially happy and carefree adult life, there are scores and scores of folks who endure great suffering, hardship, and tragedy. Few of us escape this stuff. We easily forgot the years the Apostle Paul spent in dark, dank prison cells, and the severe beatings he endured for the cause of Christ. And, many times we don't stop to think about the great suffering the Lord Jesus Christ endured for us. My own life has included a large amount of loss and disappointment over the past six years, and I've known dark days. But, I've got to tell you, that December 21 is a good day for me this year! It's a milestone. It's a reminder that, as my dear friend Dave Milley (who is now in Heaven) used to often proclaim, "Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning!"
I entitled this piece, "Shortest Day and Longest Year". Of course, that title refers to the shortest day of the year in 2014 and the long year of many challenges and ups and downs which followed it. It might, however, be more appropriate to call it, "Longest Day and Shortest Year". Sunday, December 21, 2014 was a long and disappointing day for me; in some ways, I feel like it was only yesterday, and now I have the perspective that God has been faithful and brighter days are ahead!