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Spiritual packing tape


The Life Less Traveled


April 25, 2012
About three years ago, I noticed the driver's side window on my Honda was slowing down. Instead of taking five seconds to roll up, it now took 10. By late summer, it took 30. By early fall, it just flat-out quit.

Unfortunately, the window was already down when it gave out, which meant, unless I took it straight to the dealer, the next good rain would turn my front seat into a kiddie pool. Don't get me wrong. I have nothing against kiddie pools. I just wouldn't want to drive around in one.

The dealer told me it would cost several hundred dollars to fix it. Since I didn't happen to have a spare suitcase full of money sitting around at the time, I told them just to roll it up and I'd be back when I won the lottery or came into an inheritance.

A few minutes later, they brought my car around with the window held up by packing tape. I couldn't believe it. They just taped it up. Seriously, even I could have done that. I thought about opening my own Honda dealership where I repaired everything with packing tape and other adhesives. Maybe then I could pay for my window.

Now, at this point, a normal person would have called around to some other mechanics to see who they could get to fix the window for a cheaper price. I, however, have a tendency to get busy and procrastinate on things like this. In the meantime, I learned to cope.

It really was no big deal at first. After all, the packing tape kept out most of the rain, and I had other things to do. But, eventually, the packing tape worked its way loose and began to flap around like the tail of a kite when I was driving down the highway. The next thing I knew, the window started to slip, twice adding a whistling sound to my flapping kite. It was turning into a total circus.

No problem, I thought. Time to buy new tape. I promised myself I'd get it fixed before winter set in, but I didn't. I made the same promise before summer. Two and a half years later, I finally got it done.

Two and a half years. That's a little pathetic. What's even worse is that over that time, more stuff started to break. My other three windows slowed to a crawl, and the handle inside the passenger door quit working. That meant every time I'd give a friend of mine a ride, I'd have to walk around my car to let him out like we'd just gone to the prom.

Awkward to say the least.

But now it's all fixed. It took the mechanic barely more than 24 hours. Now, even though the paint is peeling off my old Accord, I feel like I'm driving a brand-new Lexus. No more retaping windows. No more staring at life through hazy strips of packing tape. No more sweating in the summer sun or having to open my entire door in the drive-thru. No more of what could have been fixed in a day.

I know what you're thinking. Why didn't I take care of that years ago?

I guess it's just human nature to put off fixing the broken things in our lives. I'm sure that most of you are more prompt with your auto repair than I am, but what about the other broken areas of our lives? Of course, I'm not talking about our cars now, but about the neglect of our souls.

For you, it might be a bad habit or an addiction or maybe persistent bitterness. Is there someone you're refusing to forgive? Maybe you're the one who needs forgiving but you're just too embarrassed to ask for it. It could be a million things — a rotten attitude, a destructive relationship, shame from your past, a terrible self-image, crippling fear or even a legalistic, judgmental approach to your faith that turns people off from God.

We're all broken people living in a broken world. Sadly, too many times, we just choose to live with it. We learn to cope. We tape up our cracked hearts and pretend like it's normal. It's not normal. God made us for better things. He made us to be whole.

Complete wholeness won't happen this side of heaven, but there are things in all of our lives that God would love to fix if only we'd give Him the chance. So, if you hear the sound of your spiritual packing tape flapping in the breeze this week, maybe it's time to invite the Master Mechanic under the hood of your heart.

Jason Byerly, a 1990 graduate of Crawford County Junior-Senior High School, is the children's pastor at Southland Christian Church near Lexington, Ky. He and his wife have two daughters. For more, visit www.jasonbyerly.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/jasondbyerly.

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    The Life Less Traveled
    May 08, 2012 | 12:15 PM

    I have appreciated reading your columns for a couple of years. Will look forward to seeing them again when you return. Take care.
    From an English native living in New Hampshire.

    Tim Eade
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