Something happened today that I want to document. I was at HEB after a quick grocery trip and when I got in my car, it wouldn't start. Or rather, it would start, and then it would die quickly. I tried a few times. Most of the warning lights came on: oil pressure, check engine, the red battery.
This situation frustrated me, and for 30 seconds I thought about whether to invite God into it. I should, but I don't want to. It was especially frustrating because I had my starter and battery replaced the week before. I don't remember if I invited God into it, but if I did, it was half-hearted.
There was an auto supply store in the same shopping center, so I walked over there and one of the men there used the check engine device and got the error code C1241. He tried to start the car as well.
My friend Logan has picked me up before when my car has had trouble, so I reached out to him. While I was waiting to hear back from him I called Emily, and one of the things we talked about was knowing Christ.
I told Emily about a book I'm listening to ("Knowing Christ Today") that has been challenging in a good but difficult way. The author (Dallas Willard) talks about a few ways of relating to Christ: profession, commitment, belief, and knowledge. I told her that I have professed belief in Christ, I'm committed to Christ, I believe in Christ in the best way I know how, but I am realizing that I lack knowledge of Christ.
One of the main points of the book is that religious knowledge is considered by many today to be impossible. You can profess something religious, you can be committed in it to greater or lesser degrees, and you can truly believe it with all your heart, but you cannot know it to be true. Willard points out how this is a comparatively recent change, and he explains why he thinks that change has happened.
He also insists that religious knowledge is possible for anyone who is open to receive it and willing to take the necessary steps to learn about it. I agree. I had even had a brief thought earlier that perhaps Christ was trying to get my attention through this flurry of car trouble.
When Emily and I ended our conversation, I knew where I was spiritually. I had little knowledge of Christ, but I believed it was possible, and I was hopeful to experience it, because of the testimony of the Bible of how God does not tell people to seek him in vain, and he is so good and generous and faithful. Surely such a God does not play tricks on those who truly want to know Him.
Logan called me and said he could come pick me up. While he was on his way, I returned to my car. As soon as I sat down, I sensed a question from Christ: "Do you think I can make your car run?" My honest answer was "Maybe," but still the question was there.
A story came to mind, a story of some of Christ's disciples when they were fishing. They had fished for a long time and caught nothing. Christ tells them to throw the nets on the other side of the boat. They do it, and they catch so many fish that the nets start breaking and the boat starts to sink.
This conversation had a similar specific nature to it. There is a car that is not starting. You tried, the man from the auto store tried. And here I am with this question that seems to me to be coming from Christ: "Do you think I can make your car run?". I decided yes, I did think he could, but I would not describe my confidence as complete. Even after I answered yes, I waited for a woman to park her Porsche in front of me and walk into the grocery store.
When I turned the key, the car started normally. None of the warning lights were on. I sat there in flabbergasted silence. I tried to think of a mechanical reason, but I don't understand cars. What is Logan going to think? Is it safe to drive? Am I crazy if I believe that Christ just fixed my car because I told him I thought he could? Or am I crazy if I ignore Christ answering my prayer for knowledge of him so quickly?