Confession: I am not a math whiz…adding and subtracting, simple multiplication and division; those operations pretty much exhaust my math skills. I figure (get it? “figure”?) that, if God had wanted me to be a math whiz, He would not have overseen the creation of the MyScript Calculator app for my phone. And, calculus? Math with no numbers? Why oh why oh why?
But, I am also not an idiot. Stop: put those hands down; I know you want to object to my self-descriptor, but you cannot. Unless, of course, you post a comment; then I suppose you can…object…that is.
So I was mildly (only mildly; I’ll unpack that momentarily) surprised when we were at the auto dealership last night. My car’s lease had come up and it was time to make the dreaded decisions: purchase or lease; new or used; same make and model or different. Some people love car shopping. I rank car shopping down there with root canals (with or without Novocain) and expressing the slime from a MRSA infection. [Yes, I know that was a gross mental image, but it’s truly how I feel about car shopping.]
Meanwhile…back at the car dealership. A nice chap (The Cheerful Car Chap or CCC) was very happy to see us when we arrived. He held the door for us as we entered the showroom (partially to escape the ridiculous cold). [On another note: Polar Vortex, go back to the Pole or Poland, or wherever you came from; I’m done with the subzero wind chill.] He asked us why we were there and that’s when I produced the ad his dealership friends had so kindly emailed: the ad for a $29 lease! I figured I could afford a $29 lease. The CCC inquired as to our car preference.
I shared with him that we were looking for something a little bigger than we’d had. The compact I had driven for three years had been great: terrific gas mileage coupled with car doors that locked and unlocked electronically (that last bit is an entirely other story); that car had gotten me around town and up and down the East Coast.
But it was a small car and I have, ahem, “girthed up” somewhat over the last few years. [Comments about my increased girth are not welcome and will be ignored.] So I was looking for something with more ease of ingress and egress. The CCC took us on a test run in a larger car and it seemed to be just the thing. The CCC showed us the various available colors and we picked one: blue (the lighter blue because the dark blue looks kind of purple in the dark under street lights; I know this because my friend has one and I had teased him about it. Purple is fine for many people; just not me).
We then sat down with The CCC to “do the deal.” That’s when came the “math surprise.” It wasn’t a complete surprise (as I mentioned earlier). Unfortunately I have come to expect “car dealership surprises” packed into the fine print or hidden behind some obscure link on some not so crystal clear web site.
The “fine print” (in this case) meant that $29 was just the beginning of the math problem. To the $29, it seems, one must add: the first month’s lease payment, dealer prep charges, documentation fees, taxes, tips, licenses, bonuses, flea dusting charges (threw that last one in there to see if you were paying attention), etc. Final tally: $1340 NOT $29.
Since I had been half expecting additional fees and the final amount was in the price range we had anticipated, we went ahead and closed the deal. My girthness now girths itself in a roomier ride.
But the auto dealership is not the only place where very little can mean much, much more.
When we come to the place where we recognize our need for Jesus Christ, we realize that we have very, very little to offer: broken and sin-scarred souls and a spiritual pauper’s faith (not even $29 worth, really…and…it turns out that the $29 we thought we gave Him, had itself been a gift). He takes our $29 then does some Not So New Math: grace “operations” that have been performed since eternity by a loving, Heavenly Father: He turns our measly $29 into ever much more.
“Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know” (Jeremiah 33:3).
“For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every familyin heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:14-19).
Not bad…our meagerness being turned by God into a life that is much, much more than we dreamed possible: wider, longer, higher, deeper. Not bad at all for $29.
I think I’ll hoist my girth into the new car and go for a ride.
© All rights reserved. Scripture from the NIV, Zondervan.