Yesterday I bought a car, a brand new one right off the lot. You would have had to have known me for the past 22 years of my driving career to get the full, supernatural weight of this act. When I turned 16 my dear grandfather generously gave me his ocean blue Dodge Omni. (Just Google Dodge Omni to get a feel for my junior and senior years of high school.) I drove it into the ground, or rather as long as I could before I came home to find that my mom had sold it because she could get $300 for the tape player – this is a true story. She added that money to a savings account I’d been building while working for two years during college so I could buy my first ever used Jeep Cherokee…. for a grand total of $4,200. I drove it for 8 years until it caught on fire to its death. It literally caught on fire. I bought a lemon of a used Trooper for $8,000, drove it two years while it leaked oil onto every free road in Nashville, sold it for $3,500 and then bought another used Cherokee for $8,500 that I’ve driven for the past 8 years.
This brings me to Saturday: A day off, a day of happiness, a day of pure bliss wherein I had a junk car with no payment and money in the bank. Until, that is, my friends coaxed me out the door for the “blowout” sales that, of course, were ending in the next five minutes; there would never be another sale of its kind, not in the history of humankind, nor ever to come. The 2013’s on the lot HAD TO GO or else people might die at their desks. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity I would be a fool not to seize. And so, I waited because this is what I do. I took the weekend to consider my options, pull the consumer reports, get advice from friends, and apologize to my Jeep for my pending disloyalty. On Monday morning, lo and behold, the deals were still there – the sales had been extended, oh my word. And so yesterday, after much thought and prayer (yes, I pray over my cars) I drove a brand new car off the lot. As night fell and the streetlights gleamed in the wintery steam of January’s air, and as I drove out into the world in my charming new vehicle, I lost approximately $5,000 in value. At least this is how my mind works.
It’s that thing about cars not being investments that just kills me. Every time someone says that the first thing a car does is lose value, a little piece of me shrivels. I think this is why I’ve never spent much on them because I so prefer the idea of sustainability, increase, one seed that grows into a plant that in turn gives you many seeds. (As opposed to paying a bunch of money for something that will eventually end up in a heap of metal parts.) So when I woke up this morning and looked out the window at my super smart, blizzard pearl exterior, brand new car, it was with mixed emotions, partly because I can be a downer, but also because all this is just true. I was happy for the car, but I couldn’t help but think of how many things in life I dump my time or money into, stuff that decreases in worth as fast as cotton candy disintegrates in your mouth – stuff I try to actually protect. Right, did I mention I also paid for a warranty on this car? Because when buying a new car the first thing you want to do is start thinking about all the things that are about to break. I could just die right now.
On the other hand, when I hear the term ‘compounding interest’ my heart flutters. I’m getting a little, tiny bit older, and more than even I find myself pondering the beauty of eternal investments. I am genuinely grateful for the work I get to be a part of here and in the Amazon, the relationships I get to pour into and who pour into me, dear readers I have the privilege of writing for, the teaching of the Word that never returns void. I am thankful for the opportunity to sow into churches and ministries who change the course of people’s lives. Today, as we live and breathe, we have the opportunity to do what counts for eternity! We have the opportunity to grab joy right out of the air when we give our money, our time, our resources – a lasting joy that doesn’t disintegrate when you drive off the lot. When a dear friend of mine recently left her job to take over a Christian non-profit for half her salary, another friend said to her, “This is your new inheritance. Go get it!” I’m so grateful that God has ordained a sacred economy where our heavenly treasures can’t be bothered by moths or rust or thieves, where our investment is secure and our joy safe. God is good to give us this reality, but it’s a reality we have to choose. Jesus told us to store up heavenly treasures, suggesting there are other types of treasures we can live for. Let’s get after our God-given inheritance this year. It’s more sustainable and profitable than we could ever imagine. I’m excited. And, please, keep me in your prayers as I head to the Amazon in mid-February for the Third Annual Jungle Pastors’ Conference put on by Justice and Mercy Amazon.
Looking forward to 2014 with you.