Thursday, March 19, 2009

Winter 08/09 Update. Plus, Car Chronicles #4

It's Still Winter?

Well, just barely.

Today is the last full day of the official winter season, and tomorrow we'll see the spring equinox, the first day of spring.

Here's a photo from January, but today the snow is gone, the robins have returned, and we are starting to have whole days when the temperature stays above freezing.

However, no leaves yet have appeared on the trees, and the wind chill still calls for a jacket if you're going to be outside.

But worse, it still feels a lot like winter to me: sort of a winter season in my ministry; in my life, so to speak.

But first, the good news.

One side effect of having a nine-year-old living with me is that I get to invite his friends in the neighborhood to church. About a dozen children have come with us to Church of the Savior (COTS), a church here in the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh.

Many of these children had hardly darkened a church door. But they enjoyed the small children's ministry classes, and some of them asked if they could come with us again--which of course, I gladly encouraged,

One child's reaction has stuck with me. When this young lad returned from Sunday School, I was instructing him in what would happen at Holy Communion. COTS accepts all baptised persons to the communion (pita bread & non-alcoholic wine), and gives a blessing to those who do not partake. I asked the boy if he had been baptised, and he asked me,

"What does 'baptize' mean?"

He had never heard the word. This made me realize just how secular our society has become, and how many children are growing up without access to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. This boy took away the impression that baptism was something special, and something to be desired. May the Lord nuture that seed and pique his interest in Jesus.

And now for the darker news.

Last Spring (see below), I was bubbling over about my new '92 Honda Accord, in "the prime of its life." I thought that the buffeting of the ice floes of life (like these on the Ohio River) was melting away, and I could float smoothly down to wherever the river of my ministry should take me.

I wish. The Honda needed brakes, then a radiator replacement. More recently, I spun out the car after hitting an ice floe of sorts on Pennsylvania Hwy. 65. The repairs stemming from that event involved replacing the radiator again.

Then came the torrential oil leak. The mechanic pulled the front plate off the engine, and found major problems with the oil pump and seal, with prohibitive costs for parts, not to mention labor. End result? A one-way trip to the junk yard for a bitterly meager price.

If the Lord truly still wanted me to have a car as part of my ministry, it would seem I would need something that promised more reliability than a 15-year-old car.

I tried (actually, I was forced) to cope with caring for my young charge (just turned 10 years old) using my resources as a pedestrian and a bicylist. That had not been going well. The old injuries to my left leg (broken knee and broken hip) did not respond kindly to the increased stress that the cold and the rain and the forced exercise placed on me.

Not all was bad news, however. The local Chevy dealer was advertising 2008 Chevy Cobalts at an attractive price, and as I was passing by on my bike I went in to enquire. To my profound suprise, they approved me for a car loan, an approval that included an attractive payment and interest rate. The down side was the jump in insurance costs to include comp & collision, which would push me to the limits of my pension-based income.

What to do? I wept before the Lord. Then I chose faith over despair.

In sum, I have a shiny black subcompact car parked outside, still covered by most of the miles of the manufacturer's warranty. And I look forward to seeing how my Lord is going to help me pay for it.

Pray for me, brothers and sisters.
Pray for my flagging spirit, and pray for my health.
And thank you, for taking the interest and concern to read this web log.
May the Lord bless you and keep you.


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