Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth. After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it.” 1 Timothy 6:6-7
It was a dumb decision. When it comes to cars…I just seem to be inherently dumb. Naw…that’s probably too strong. I think I am just unwise. My first new car was a 1973 Volkswagen Super Beetle. I was so proud of that car. It was bright orange with a black racing stripe and I had even jazzed it up some. I added exhaust headers, dual point ignition, a two-barrel carburetor, and an under-dash AM-FM radio, cassette player. Shoot that thing…it was so cool. And then…I got bored. Here’s a warning. When you get bored with your car, do not under any circumstances go to a car lot. Well, I did and even when the credit union said no, the nice man at the dealership said yes. My payments went from $83.00 per month to $135.00 per month which doesn’t sound bad till you realize I was in the Air Force and only making about $400 a month.
I think that whole deal turned out pretty good. When I met my wife Judy, I think she was impressed with my 5-speed Toyota Corona SE and later when we got orders for Germany, we were able to sell it and just about break even. I wish I could tell you I learned my lesson but sometimes, and especially when it comes to cars, I am just a slow learner. And when the car bug bites—Katie bar the door. The year was 2001. We were just beginning our ministry at a new church and getting settled into a new house and a new town. On September 11th of that year the terrorists knocked down the twin towers in New York and our country was stunned. To boost the economy President Bush encouraged the carmakers to get America back on the road again. He also encouraged people to go out and buy a new car. So, I did. Twice.
I asked Judy what she thought about buying a car and not surprisingly she was totally against it. However, we had money in the bank from selling our previous home, and so I went to the dealership and came home with a new car. It was brand-new Pontiac Grand Am and I got it with 2% financing. “Yay” I said…for a while. After owning the car for about six months or so, I noticed there was whine when the air conditioning was on. They checked it out and said it was normal. Well, I knew it wasn’t normal, so I went back…several times. Finally, the guy who sold me the car in the first place told me to come and he would “work something out.” This isn’t going to end well, is it?
I went in and I just assumed he was going to give me full credit for the car since in my eyes it was “defective.” Well, he didn’t and by this time I was up to my eyeballs with “I.Want.It-itis.” Yup, I traded my new car in, took a big loss, and bought another new car…one that was a little bigger and, of course, a little more expensive. It was a bad deal from start to finish. I felt so bad about it, and the fact I was in debt, that I depleted a chunk of our savings to go ahead and pay it off. I thought it would make me feel better. It didn’t. I told you I was a slow learner.
The really, sad, sad part of this story is that about a year later I wrecked the car and because of depreciation I could only replace it with an older used car. But…there is light at the end of this tunnel. You see, that was almost twenty years ago and while I have bought and sold cars several times…I never again made the mistake of buying a new car. I discovered that you can buy a four or five year old car for about half the price of a new one. How about that? I also relearned the important principle of BBQ grills. A long time ago, I heard a guy teaching and he said, “Don’t look for a new BBQ grill unless you are ready to buy a new grill.” That’s good advice, and it applies to many areas of life.
There’s a lot to be said for contentment. The Bible says, “True godliness with contentment is itself great wealth. After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it.” I was speaking at my church recently and reached this conclusion. I said, “We need to learn two things. First, Jesus is enough. Second, the world is never enough.” That alone is worth your time in reading this story. The truth is the things that really bring satisfaction can’t be bought in a store…they are free. And at the top of that list is a relationship with Creator God. That will cost you nothing because Jesus paid that price a long time ago. If you seek satisfaction anywhere else, it will cost you and it just won’t satisfy. Someone said there is a God shaped vacuum in the life of every man, woman, and child. We can try and stuff other things in that vacuum, but it will always fall short.
So, I hope my car misadventures will help you learn and avoid the hard way. And I hope you will give God a try. Remember, don’t confuse church and religion with a relationship with God. One of the things that makes my life worth living is that He is my Dearest Father, and He loves me 100%—100% of the time. He will never leave me…even when I make those less than wise decisions. And when I fail and fall…He is always there with the assurance that “He’s got this.” Bro. Dewayne