For some inexplicable reason, I had left the keys in the ignition the night before. Not content with that level of carelessness, my psyche had also decided to leave the keys turned so the battery was engaged—all night long. Our car’s precious energy slowly drained out while Shannon and I slept blissfully unaware.
To make matters worse, I had driven forward into the garage the night before, making it impossible for another car to reach our engine with standard length jumper cables. (In my defense, it takes me 20 minutes to safely back the car into the garage without busting through a wall, so I was just saving time and repair costs.)
Throughout the day, I was painfully aware of the inconvenience of not having a car. It was, I think, a good illustration of the old adage, “You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.”
In fact, I think that’s one of the biggest reasons why I’m not as thankful as I should be. There is so much amazing grace in my life that I count a lot of it as “normal.” So many of my blessings exist day after day after day. Their constancy makes me take them for granted. In planning my schedule, I consider it a given to have, say, a working car.
I don’t think I’m alone here. We might label many of God’s gracious blessings as undeserved gifts, but we’re tempted to balk when those gifts don’t work properly, or when they’re taken away altogether. It’s as if we think God owes us the grace we have received. But earned grace is an oxymoron, and only an ox or a moron would claim God owed him grace.
To help us avoid being oxen or morons, I wanted to meditate briefly on the amazing goodness of God in one particular area. There are a lot of blessings to choose from, not the least of which is my new daughter, but I wanted to look at something we tend to overlook: those astounding technological advancements we know as our cars.
Isn’t “astounding” an exaggeration? Not in my opinion. Think about it: If we need to travel out of state and back, it’s possible nowadays to do so in a matter of hours. We can drive hundreds of miles within a day’s time—comfortably. On horseback, the same trip could easily have taken weeks, if not months. With the time it would take for me to visit one of my company’s jobsites on a horse, I could hit up a dozen grocery stores, four restaurants, and have a lengthy stay reading a book and sipping a Frappuccino at Starbucks. And unlike in Oregon Trail times, I’m not in constant danger of getting dysentery. Cramped legs maybe, but not life-threatening infections.
Not only do we have the ability to travel great distances in short time periods, but we also do so in style. Even basic cars come with climate control features. Consider the amazing luxury we take for granted. On cold winter days, it’s possible to ride with warm air blowing into your face—or feet, or both (you get to decide!)—while you’re protected inside a cabin that shields you from the frozen air. On hot summer days, you simply turn a dial (or push a button) and out of those same vents flow refreshing cool air.
GPS features make navigation astronomically easier. All you need is an address, and you can choose a route based on its length, travel time, road conditions, and other factors. If you happen to miss a turn or an exit, no problem! Your car can compensate by recalculating the route. It’s like a souped up, genetically enhanced Lewis and Clark with you at all times. The world is your navigational oyster.
Those are just three aspects to modern-day automobile travel. We haven’t even mentioned cruise control, rearview cameras, adaptive headlights, seat warmers, night vision, tire pressure monitoring, blind spot detection, and radar-based automatic braking. At the rate technology is advancing, Superman himself will eventually travel by car just to save on time and effort.
Yes, God’s blessings are everywhere. They surround us every day. That may make them easy to overlook, just as a fish might not be aware of water. But that leaves us with no excuse for unthankful hearts—much less for any sense of entitlement. God’s goodness endures through the ages, not so we can take them for granted, but so we can have an endless reason to give thanks.