The day the wheels fell off…. and the gear box died and…

“The day the wheels fell off….
and the gear box died and….
the swivel pins seized….and…..”

Sounds like the words of a real ‘tear jerkin’, Tamworth Country Music Festival, prize-winning song about the woes of the ol’ Outback Sundowner…
But it isn’t…..
But it is quite a story, and worth relating here, so let me put you into the picture…..well, not exactly a picture but at least some prose…..

It all began when a young fellow in the youth group of the Church I was the minister of at that time decided that he would like to be able to ‘go bush’ too and see some of the things that he had seen of the Flower Family trips on the slide shows that we had presented at various Church functions. So, just to be like the minister he bought a well known brand of 4WD and proudly showed up at Church one Sunday announcing to all and sundry that he was going to do all the major trips beginning with the trek to Cape York like we had done the previous year. Now in those days, (the mid 70’s) it was indeed a long, hard and lonely trip – one that should only have been attempted by the experienced driver.

“When do you plan to do this trip?” I asked.
“Well we hope to leave in 4 weeks when my annual holidays start”, was the benign reply.
For once this preacher was speechless! Well almost anyway! He had no experience, done no research, an untried vehicle, no mechanical knowledge, no recovery gear, and to cap it all off it would have been the middle of the ‘wet’ season and all the unsealed roads impassible!

This was a job for ‘Superpreacher’ – to try to talk him out of making such a trip until he was ready and prepared for it.

At first my protests fell upon deaf ears. ‘He knew what he was doing’ he said, was ‘ready for the adventure’. So I tried another tack…
“What about your vehicle, is it ready? I mean, you’ve only just bought it, and you haven’t even given it a decent run yet to find out if there’s anything that may need to be repaired”. This at least caused him to do a bit of thinking, but then, “But the bloke at the car yard where I bought said she’ll do any trip”.

“Maybe” was my counter, “but how do you know if he was telling you the truth? Your vehicle’s brand is a good one but it still needs to be maintained and checked and treated the way the maker advises”.
“No worries, me and a few of the mates are going away next weekend to do a bit of camping up near Barrington Tops, so we’ll give it a good work out then”.
“But get it checked first by a competent mechanic”, I tried to explain, “and let me show you some of the basics of necessary maintenance for that type of vehicle”. But it was useless…. ‘He knew enough’ he said ‘about cars; he knew about gear boxes, and lubrication etc, etc’.

And maybe he did. But it turned out to be the other type of car that he knew about – the 2WD variety – that didn’t have a transfer case, and didn’t have a second differential or front swivel pin housings to be checked and lubricated.

That next weekend was a very rainy one it was! And they just about got to their destination they almost did too! Got to a very lonely, seldom visited spot, on a track that was almost completely washed out where there was this creek that was running quite high too! They made it through the creek alright, but just as they were going up the very steep incline on the other side there was a loud thump, and forward progress ceased. As a matter of fact reverse progress began and the vehicle began sliding backwards down towards, and then into, the creek and no amount of weight on the brake would stop it.

It was a very long, and wet walk out to the nearest phone. It was a very irate father who was called in the middle of the night. It was an extremely expensive tow job since a tractor (with willing farmer) had to be found and then the vehicle freighted on a semi back to Sydney for repair. It was a very broke young apprentice who finally realised that ‘Cars ain’t Cars’ and that although he knew a thing or two about ‘ordinary’ cars, this one was different and the maker had given some very clear and pertinent instructions as to how this type was to be run and maintained.

It turned out that the transfer case had died because it’s filler plug had long ago worked loose and fallen off – and, as a consequence all the oil had been flung out. Our young friend had checked the Gear Box but not the transfer case – (Didn’t know there was such a thing’, was his retort later). Likewise
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the front differential was also found to be wrecked through lack of oil, along with the swivel pins and front wheel drive mechanisms. Probably the former owner had not known/bothered/cared about checking or adding oil to them either. So much for the glib words of the car salesman.

Now here is the point of all this. Our young friend was typical of the attitude of so many people today when it comes to thinking about the Christian life and the Bible. They don’t stop to think that there is a world of a difference between ‘ordinary’ living and living life God’s way.

Four Wheel Drive vehicles (at least the ‘real’! ones anyway) are purpose and specially built, and are quite different to the ‘ordinary’ road vehicle. Likewise, a Christian, while still a person has been remade and is purpose built to serve his or her Creator and Maker.

They don’t run the same way, they work under a different set of maintenance regulations which must not be overlooked. There is a special service manual issued by the Maker which needs to be followed if the ‘vehicle’ is to last.

Poor “X”. (I can’t give his real name in case someone might identify him.) He wouldn’t listen. He thought he knew. But he was wrong. There is a great verse to illustrate this in the book of Proverbs in the Bible – “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death” (Prov. 14:12). Experience can be a hard and sometimes fatal teacher. Fortunately this young man learned in time, and although it cost him a lot of cash it was certainly cheaper for his car to break down in N.S.W. and not very far from Sydney, than for it to have died on the lonely tracks leading to Cape York.

That’s why I suppose that becoming a Christian is like buying a 4WD vehicle in order to enjoy the ‘real’ bush. Not only is the vehicle different from ordinary ones, but we have to learn to drive it in a whole new way. The old patterns of driving (living), have to be abandoned and new patterns learned. The is a great instruction book direct from the maker that is there to be followed.

And incidentally, there are some pretty good ‘instructors’ as to how the new vehicle (your Christian life) is to be handled. Why not ask one of them today? There are quite a few of them in TRAX Fellowship who are competent in this area. They also will offer you a free instruction book as well. Now, that’s a better deal than young “X” got from his salesman!

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