log in or join free
Parable in a Car Wash
My eighteen-month-old grandson Walter, his father, and I were out for a drive when his father decided it was time to have the car washed. Those automatic car washes can be a bit scary on the first run-through, even for an adult.
I watched Walter's face as the car was drawn into the dark tunnel. The water suddenly began to roar down over all four sides of the car, and his big blue eyes got bigger--but went immediately from the windows to the face of his father.
He was too small to understand what it was all about, and he'd had no explanation beforehand. What he did know was that Daddy would take care of him. Then the giant brushes began to close in around us, whirling and sloshing and making a tremendous racket. It grew even darker inside the car.
The boy had no way of knowing whether we'd get out of this alive. His eyes darted again from the brushes to the face of his father. I could see he was afraid, but he didn't cry.
Then the rubber wheel came banging down on the windshield, and hot air began to blast us. It must have seemed to the child that this tunnel had no end. What further terrors awaited us? He clung to only one thing; he knew his father. His father had never given him any reason not to trust him, but still....
When the car finally broke out into sunshine, the little boy's face broke into a big smile. Everything was okay; Daddy knew what he was doing after all.
Like Walter, I have been through some dark tunnels. Although they were frightening, in the end I've found my Heavenly Father always knows the way out.
Thirty years ago I was standing beside a shortwave radio in a house on the Atun Yacu, one of the principal headwaters of the Amazon, when I learned that my husband, Jim Elliot, was one of the five missionaries missing. They had gone into the territory of the Auca Indians, a people who had never heard even the name of Jesus Christ. What did I do? I suppose I said out loud, "O Lord!"
And he answered me. Not with an audible voice (I've never heard him speak that way in my life). But God brought to mind an ancient promise from the Book of Isaiah: "I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you, and through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned....For I am the Lord your God" (Isaiah 43:1, 2).
l am the Lord your God. Think of it! The One who engineered this incredible universe with such exquisite precision that astronomers can predict exactly where and when Halley's comet will appear--this God is my Lord.
Evelyn Underhill said, "If God were small enough to be understood, He would not be big enough to be worshiped."
Can we imagine that God, who is concerned with so many stupendous things, can possibly be concerned about us? We do imagine it. We hope he is. That is why we turn to him in desperation and cry out, as I did, "O Lord!" Where else can we possibly turn when we have come to the end of our resources?
Does God love us? Karl Barth, the great theologian, was once asked if he could condense all the theology he had ever written into one simple sentence.
"Yes," he said. "I can. 'Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.'"
Think about the account of the Crucifixion in Mark 15. Jesus was fastened to a cross. It was a man-made cross, and man-made nails were hammered through his hands--the hands that had formed the galaxies. Wicked men put him up there. Then they flung at him a bold and insolent challenge: "If you're the Son of God, come down! Then we'll believe."
Did he come down? No. He stayed there. He could have summoned an army of angels to rescue him, but he stayed there. Why? Because he loved us with a love that gives everything.
Because of the love of the father for us, he gave his son. Because of the love of the son for his father, he was willing to die, "so that by God's gracious will, in tasting death, he should stand for us all" (Hebrews 2:9).
When I heard Jim was missing, my first response was "O Lord!" God answered by giving me a promise: "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you."
Was that enough for me? Was that all I wanted? No, I wanted Jim back alive. I didn't want to go through that deep river, that dark tunnel. Five days later I got another radio message: Jim was dead. All five of the men were dead.
God hadn't worked any magic. He is not a talisman, a magic charm to carry in our pocket and stroke to get whatever we want. He could have sent a rescue squad of angels to save Jim and the others, but he didn't. Why not? Didn't he love us?
Fourteen years later God brought another man into my life. I thought it was a miracle I'd gotten married the first time! Now, once again, I was a wife.
However, Addison Leitch and I had not yet reached our fourth anniversary when we learned he had cancer. O Lord, I thought, another dark tunnel. The medical verdict was grim, but we prayed for healing. We did not know positively what the outcome would be, but like little Walter, we knew our Father. We had to keep turning our eyes from the frightening things to him, knowing him to be utterly faithful.
Whatever dark tunnel we may be called upon to travel through, God has been there. Whatever deep waters seem about to drown us, he has traversed. Faith is not merely "feeling good about God" but a conscious choice, even in the utter absence of feelings or external encouragements, to obey his Word when he says, "Trust Me." This choice has nothing to do with mood but is a deliberate act of laying hold on the character of God whom circumstances never change.
Does he love us? No, no, no is what our circumstances seem to say. We cannot deduce the fact of his unchanging love from the evidence we see around us. Things are a mess. Yet to turn our eyes back to the Cross of Calvary is to see the irrefutable proof that has stood all the tests of the ages: "It is by this that we know what love is: that Christ laid down his life for us" (John 3:16 NEB).
We are all little Walters to God. He knows the necessity of the "car wash," the dark passages of every human life, but he is in the car! The outcome will be most glorious.
"Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take; the clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break in blessings on your head."
~ William Cowper, "God Moves in a Mysterious Way"