My car started making interesting noises this morning.
When I say interesting, what I actually mean is that my car started making very-loud-rattling-clunky-bang-bang-noises, the type of which normally cost me a lot of money to put a stop to.
Now you have to remember that I am clueless when it comes to cars. That’s driving them, fixing them, maintaining them and parking them.
Especially parking them.
And that’s Clueless.
With a capital ‘C’.
You are talking to the girl who (if this list was in Japanese we’d be using the や particle over と, because it’s in no way exhaustive) took 7 attempts to pass her driving test, only learnt how to open her car bonnet last month, doesn’t know where the oil goes (or its purpose actually?), frequently reverses into stationary objects in car-parks, and has to semi-regularly get random men to parallel park her car for her in busy, urban areas.
And there was that one time that I forgot to put the handbrake on, and had to watch my little Rav4 roll down my driveway and straight into my garden wall.
Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not being hard on myself. There are many things in this life that I am good at, that God has gifted me in, and that I am thankful for. But car-related-activities are not included.
I embody every negative stereotype that there is about ‘women drivers’.
I summed it up with ironic hilarity when I said without thinking to a group of friends last week, ‘I am a good driver… As long as I’m going forwards in a straight line…’
So this morning, I got into my little-slightly-beaten-up-car, heard it’s rather-unhappy sounding noises and was immediately reminded of the passages I’d been studying in Deuteronomy 31 – 34 an hour previously (I know, my brain works in mysterious ways…)
These are the last chapters of Moses’ life. The summing up of his legacy.
And He leaves the Israelite people with encouragement, guidance, vision and hope.
But he also leaves them with a warning, and the reality of their rebellion.
He instructs them to be faithful to their Lord and to His heart.
To live like His people.
To go past the rhetoric, and the ritual, and into the relationship of transformation.
Because just like my car should run properly if it is maintained and cared for and driven well, so God instructs us with the way in which we should live out our identity as His body, His bride and His children. And just like my car makes disgruntled sounds on days like today, so our communities, and friendships, and churches, make the painful rumblings of something-just-not-being-right when we fail to cultivate them with the honour that God outlines for us in His word.
Because our Father gives us the promise of victory (31 v 5), the mantle of His strength and boldness and courage (31 v 6), the assurance that He will never, ever, not-for-one-moment, leave our side (31 v 6). But He asks us to listen. And learn. And honour Him and His commands for us (31 v 12).
He asks us to love Him with all our heart, and all our soul, and all our mind, and all our strength.
And to run to Him when we fall.
And to love our neighbour, as we would love ourselves.
And in these last chapters of Deuteronomy, there is the stark reality that the Lord knew His people, His treasured possession, would rebel. That they would break His heart. That He would have to hide His face from them (31 v 15-18). That they would need a Saviour.
That we would need the Saviour.
That we would be broken.
That we would be Clueless (with a capital ‘C’) about a way to fix the problem, because there would be no way that we could ever fix the problem of our own sin.
That we would need a vindicator when our strength and our hope was gone (32 v 36).
He who doesn’t just hear the problems that rattle through our communities and our churches and our cultures and our lives, but He who makes a way for them to be restored and reconciled and unified to His heart.
The Master designer. The Master mechanic. He who never makes a mistake, or overlooks an area of need, or turns a blind eye to our need for oil. He who never reverses without looking, or takes His hands off the wheel, or lets things fall into disrepair without hope or without a way back.
There is none like God, Jeshurun, riding to your rescue through the skies, his dignity haloed by clouds. The ancient God is home on a foundation of everlasting arms. He drove out the enemy before you and commanded, ‘Destroy!’ Israel lived securely, the fountain of Jacob undisturbed in grain and wine country and, oh yes, his heavens drip dew. Israel! Who has it as good as you? A people saved by God! The Shield who defends you, the Sword who brings triumph (Deuteronomy 33: 26-29).