The Ford Cougar

Have you ever owned an old car that you tried to fix up? I once had a used Ford Cougar that had long since seen its best days. Rust spots, interspersed with minor scratches and dents, covered the car. The car’s muffler was held on by a coat hanger and its bumper was a bit off center. Inside, the seats were cracked and dirty and masking tape held the vents in the correct position. The rear view mirror was missing, as were the radio knobs. Every morning the Cougar coughed, sputtered and chugged to life with a cloud of dark smoke.

When I met my wife to be, I was pretty much ashamed of that old car. It seemed so seedy, so… substandard. I decided to fix it up. I replaced the rearview mirror and added some new floor mats. The upholstery was cleaned and I bought a couple of seat covers. I ground down the rust spots and applied a little paint that was slightly off-color. I made sure the lights all worked and vacuumed out the inside. By the time I was finished, I was quite proud of that old car and went for a spin around town. But, as time went by, I took a harder look at my refurbished steed. I saw how weary it looked; how haggard and worn. The paint didn’t match and the floor mats stood out against the grungy worn carpet that surrounded them. The Cougar still sputtered, choked and shimmied when I approached fifty miles an hour. I finally admitted that I could never really restore my car, that it would never shine and ride as it had so many years before.

Our lives are much the same as that old Cougar. Sin gradually, but surely, fades our glory. Slowly our innocence dies, our lives worn away by missed opportunities and thoughtless acts. We can try to repair the brokenness that fills our lives, spruce up the empty areas we have neglected for so long. We make New Year’s resolutions, wrestle with our habits, and try to be a better person. In the end, though, nothing can truly help. The hope and promise of our lives is gradually changed into resignation and regret. It seems as if there is no going back, except in our daydreams.

If we are ever to have a life of peace, joy and love; filled with all the fullness of God, we must choose to trade our old life for something new. Jesus tells us that He gives beauty for ashes. He has come to give us abundant life. We cannot patch up our old life. It must be abandoned and something new embraced. We must leave our old life behind, as surely as I abandoned that decrepit old Ford. We must enter into the life of God, where all things become new and the old things have passed away.