Back in the day my dad was a car salesman. He sold new and used cars - don't judge him! I remember him periodically bringing some new car home as a "demonstrator" - back when the salesmen were rewarded for their efforts by being able to drive a new car as part of their "perks". The neat thing about it was that we'd get a new car every six months or so - just because they had to keep the mileage down on the demo models and they frequently changed them out. One thing people knew for sure when they got one of those demonstrator models was that it had been "road-tested". It had been put through some twists and turns on our Sunday drives and it passed the test! Today, I don't think this is the trend with car salesmen because I see all manner of beat up automobiles lining the streets just outside the dealership along the row where "staff" have to park! I don't think the car we drove really mattered to dad, though. We all liked the shiny ones he received as perks, even though they were "on loan" to him for a season. What mattered was the safety of the ride, its reliability, and the fact we all fit in with minimal effort! I think some of us serve God for the "perks", while others of us are less concerned with them. God doesn't want us more focused on the perks than we are on him. What makes the difference to him is that we bring the pieces of our lives to him and then allow him to put them together - sometimes with "perks" and other times just plain, but secure!
What a God! His road stretches straight and smooth. Every God-direction is road-tested. Everyone who runs toward him makes it. (Psalm 18:30 MSG)
Earlier in this psalm, we find the words of David as he outlines: God made my life complete when I placed all the pieces before him. When I got my act together, he gave me a fresh start. Now I’m alert to God’s ways; I don’t take God for granted. Every day I review the ways he works; I try not to miss a trick. I feel put back together, and I’m watching my step. God rewrote the text of my life when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes. (vs. 20-24) All the pieces of our lives - and for most of us there are many - placed in his hands affords us the opportunity to finally see the broken ones mended, the displaced ones brought back into the picture, and the difficult to fit ones made to fit perfectly. Sometimes, we are like David - we think it is us getting out "act together" which results in God being able to go about this work in our lives, but let me assure you - nothing is farther than the truth. We don't even possess the ability to get our "act together" apart from the grace extended by our heavenly Father, so even that action on our part is because he innervates us to respond!
Pieces are all we have to bring to God. This amazes me a little, because we are all cut from the same fabric, so to speak. All of us have somehow made a shamble of some part of our lives - maybe not totally in every respect, but at least in some area. For some of us, we have made a royal mess of things. The good news is that our "road-tested" lives are really something God embraces with his love and tender care. They might look a little battered and "used" on the outside, but under his care, they become shiny and new again. What I have observed above about the salespeople's cars outside the dealership is really where we start today. You see, God isn't ashamed of the "shell" of our lives - he doesn't make us park on the street, far away from the shiny, new models on the lot. In fact, he encourages us to take the parking spot right at the front of the display windows. Nothing pleases God more than to see a broken down life come right up to him and ask to be made new again!
When God undertakes the care and tending of our lives, he does so with the end in mind - that we would all resemble the one who gave our lives so we could live again - Christ. In all matters related to "putting our lives together", God is at work not only getting the pieces to fit, but getting them to fit so they bring glory to him. The neat thing about how God works is that he allows us to "feel" this connection with him - knowing and experiencing his tender care in putting our lives back together. God often has to do a "rewrite" of the pages of our lives because we bring him a "text" with missing pages, tattered edges, and unfinished chapters. David's reminder to us is that when we bring our tattered lives to God, he is faithful to restore.
I love our passage today because it provides such hope. Every road we travel may not be straight and smooth - in fact, some have destroyed parts of our lives as a result of choosing to travel them. God lays out before us a straight and smooth - road-tested path. We have to choose to merge our lives into that path, though. For some, it is a simple merge - smoothly just getting off the road we were on and then coming into alignment with the path he wants for our lives. For others of us, there needs to be a U-Turn and a clear redirecting of our lives in the totally opposite direction of where we have been headed. In either case, we bring some pretty "road-weary" lives to God. He has a "form" to work with, but all the battered parts of our lives need his "body shop" of sorts! We don't realize the missing bumpers, the small dents and dings, but may only focus on the oxidized paint job that makes us "look" used and dingy. He sees the frame of our being and upon that frame, he begins the work of reconstructing our lives - for the frame was created in his image and it is that which he uses to set us right again.
I wondered why they gave the salesmen "demonstrator" cars back in the day. It was often because all they had to drive was the one family vehicle they had purchased some time ago and it didn't "fit the image" of what they wanted to portray about their dealerships. The world is like that - wanting us to portray a certain image - not willing to let us be ourselves. God, on the other hand, is more than delighted to have us bring our beaten down wrecks of a life to him - no need to doctor it up or make it appear to be something it is not. In genuine and humble fashion, we present our lives to him - complete with the rust, dings, and missing parts. In powerful and compassionate fashion, he embraces what we offer to him. God isn't concerned with our appearance - he is concerned with our heart. He wants us to pass the road-test more than he wants us to be "prettied-up"! Just sayin!