When I was a little boy I was given lots of toy cars. I loved toy cars. I would lie on my side with a car in my hand, get my face right down low so my eyes were really at ground level, and then spend ages pushing the car around so I could see how realistic it looked. I would line them all up in different orders (colour, size and so on). And when my dad built me a wooden multi-storey car park I was ecstatic. It had a lift that you wound up and down, three levels, ramps between the levels and lots of things you would find on one of the plastic ones you can buy nowadays. I loved it and used it until I wore it out.
I don’t remember all the toy cars I had (although I do remember having a surfeit of tractors – but that’s another story!). But I do remember one in particular. It was a Corgi Whizzwheels Tour de France Manager’s Car. It was the fastest car I had and I thought it was brilliant. I took it to school with me one day because I was proud of it and during lunch time my friends and I took turns in whizzing it across the playground. It had never had such an open space on which to be whizzed and it shot across the playground at record speed. But every so often it would hit a stone or a wall and crash. By the end of the lunch hour its lovely bright red paintwork was badly scuffed, the plastic windows were broken, there were dents in the bodywork and the wheels looked worn out. What I had once cherished was badly damaged and although I was sad about it at the time I don’t remember being too upset. But the car got consigned to the bottom of my car tin and never saw the light of day again – up to the day when it was thrown out because it was so badly damaged.
Somehow I never forgot that car and a year or so ago I remembered it and wondered if I might find one on a popular online auction site. So I went online and searched for it. I was delighted when a few hits came up and when I clicked on them I was presented with pristine versions of my beloved car. I then looked at the prices. The minimum price was £100, and if you wanted one ‘mint in box’ you were looking at £200+. I couldn’t believe it. My first thought was regret: “Why didn’t I keep it in its box?” and then sadness: “I can never afford one of those.”
So I didn’t bid on any of them. But one of the things that popular auction website does is remember when you have searched for something and it keeps offering you similar items. A couple of months ago it offered me a scratched, damaged Corgi Whizzwheels Tour de France Manager’s Car. It was not being bid on so I put in a low bid and waited. I watched and waited. I grew anxious and excited as I watched and waited and the time for the auction drew near. I was still the winning bid with a couple of minutes to go.
The tension was quite palpable.
The timer counted down. And then at the last minute someone else outbid me and I lost the car. I was really disappointed. But I resolved to keep checking to see if similar cars turned up. A month ago another one did. I put in a similar bid to the previous time and tried to be relaxed and nonchalant about it. If I didn’t win I was not going to worry.
The timer ticked down but I didn’t check it.
I waited, not daring to look, and when I checked at the end of the auction I had won! I was thrilled. A few days later the car arrived and I held one in my hands again after all those years. It was a special moment. Then I looked at the damage. The paintwork was scratched. The stickers on it were in pieces. The plastic front bumper was scratched and a bit was missing. The wheels had seen better days. And the aerial on the top was missing. This is the car as it arrived.
I resolved that I would restore it. I took it under my coat to a car spares shop in town and surreptitiously held it up against the cans of car paint to find the best match for the red paintwork. I looked online and found places that sold replacement stickers and new windscreens. And I started the process of restoring it.
I dismantled the car and took it back to its component pieces. I stripped the paint off and re-sprayed the bodywork. I cleaned up the grubby bits of plastic. I bought some plastic filler and re-built the front bumper. I found some chrome paint and repainted the bumper. I even rebuilt the aerial.
I haven’t finished yet. I still have to finish the wheels, repaint the underside, paint the aerial and put the stickers on it. But it is getting there. Soon it will be finished. I will post a picture of the finished car when I do. I hope the car feels cherished.
The reflection today is probably one you’ve already considered. God is far more passionate about us than I am about my little car. He has paid a priceless price for us in Jesus. And he wants to restore us by the work of his Spirit in us – changing us slowly to become what he created us to be. I hope you feel cherished and special. And we should all realised that God hasn’t finished the restoration process for any of us yet, so let’s be patient with one another.
Be blessed, be a blessing