Tuesday, September 2, 2008


Years ago, before we had any kids, Deanna and I had a 1969 Chevy Nova…and no money. We were visiting our family on the high desert on the other side of the Cajon Pass in Apple Valley. For reasons unknown at the time my newer car stopped shifting into 2nd gear. I knew better than to trust the Local mechanics. I knew them and their employees. To go to any of them I knew would be an automatic transmission rebuild I could not afford. In those days I was driving about 45K a year so my new car had some miles on it. I had an old mechanic friend, Les Ayres, 90 miles away on the other side of the pass who would fix it for the cost of parts. His ministry was fixing missionary and pastor’s cars. He could diagnose a problem faster and more accurately with his ear than any other mechanic with all the techno gear available. The problem was, Les was 90 miles away on the other side of the pass. Finances demanded that I drive the car to him in first gear, top speed 20 mph. Almost half of that would have to be on the freeway. We left early on a Sunday morning when traffic was light. It actually was back then. We raced on the freeway to the top of the Cajon Pass at speeds approaching 18 maybe 19 mph. On our rear window I had written SORRY! In huge letters with Dees brightest red lipstick. It worked, the sorry and the light traffic. When we crested the Pass I shifted it into neutral but left the engine running. I knew this part of the trip would work well. I had done that before to save gas. It had climbed to .37 cents a gallon so we needed to be careful. Really. I would search for the cheapest gas price to save .25 cents on a tank because .25 cents made a difference. No way could I buy an new tranny. The pass was only about 15 miles down to the flats, but we made really, good time. I will not commit to writing how good, just really, really good. At the bottom of the hill we got off the freeway and wandered back streets to Les’ shop a couple miles out of down town LA. The normal 90 minute trip took a little over 5 hours. On Monday AM I went to see Les, explained the problem and left for home about 2 miles away. As soon as I got home, Les called telling me my car was fixed! I knew he was good, just not that good. Curiosity and necessity got me right back to the shop in minutes. Total bill. $1.98. I gave him $2 and told him to keep the change. I’m not cheap, Les would not have accepted anything from me anyway. He only wanted eternal rewards. Pennies in heaven by a whole lot more. The problem was a nylon gear that was under a cap on the bottom of the transmission, easy to reach. A few years later it happened again in AV but this time I fixed it myself. I went into my friend, Butch’s ARCO station, borrowed a wrench, removed the plug and asked Butch (a mechanic) to get me a new one. To his surprise it worked! I believe that may be the only time I ever fixed a car.
That trip down memory lane came to mind as I read my devotions this morning. I was pondering with Father how I could be a better servant than I am. I am trying to learn to live life in relationship and am a little sensitive to just doing service for service sake, even though it feels better sometimes. Doing nothing is like driving in neutral, the only destination you can get to very fast has to be down hill. Living Neutral in the Christian life is the same thing. It only leads down. I did make progress in first gear and it was enjoyable. I saw things I’d passed a hundred times. I am not anxious to do it again that way, but that trip was worth it. I really wish I could tell you I got fixed like my car shifting into higher gears, but that would not be the truth. I feel like I have been stuck in first gear my whole life, some days 1 mph, sometimes a heart engine racing 22mph (My Personal Highs) and some days I am in neutral. I do not know how to get into second gear but I did find out how to get out of neutral. I just need to shift back to first things first and get up to ¼ MPH or even ½ MPH (My Prayer Hour). If I can do that, I can climb any hill or cross any flats that come my way. It will not be record setting time, but contrary to popular belief, life is not a race anyway. The finish line is all that ultimately matters and Jesus guarantees we get there.

Phi. 1:6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.


Doni Brinkman said...

Dad have I told you lately how much I LOVE to read your blog every day. That is MPH hee hee. I don't prioritize Oswald but I do make a point to not miss a Dad post. "Service for service sake" has really been on my mind. Makes me feel stuck somewhat to because I am such a doer but I love what you said about it. By the way, remember the time you took apart the boat engine and labeled every single piece and took pictures of it. Hee hee.

Laurie said...

I love to read your blog every day too! I am still amazed how God knows what to have you blog about that will reach into my heart every single day! I love to see how His plan works all the time!

Don Z said...

Yes Doni, I remember that engine well. Total rebuild...and it didn't run one trip! Had to have a pro do it all over again. I should have quit with my one success!