I share life with a car enthusiast.
From the day I met him cruising the loop in his ‘78 jet black Pontiac Grand Prix, I could tell his vehicle was important to him. One might call him fussy. He is knowledgeable and skilled at changing oil, flushing fluids, swapping out motors and transmissions, replacing brakes and exhausts, and a thousand other things I know nothing about.
But as particular as he is about the mechanics of the vehicle, he is even more meticulous about its appearance. We do not set things on top of the car, we only need to touch the door handle when entering the car, we don’t put our fingerprints on the window, we kick the dirt off our shoes before we get into the vehicle, and we don’t ever leave trash in the vehicle; or so I’ve been told.
Many hours have been occupied detailing cars together. After all, “a clean car is a happy car”. We even spent the first two hours of our wedding night at the car wash removing hot fudge, whipped cream, and rice from the interior and exterior of our vehicle, left behind by some ruthless hooligans. Of course, my new husband was not very happy.
All that to say, the dear husband likes a clean car. So, when the weather turned bitterly cold the last few weeks and I made the decision to let the barn cats shack up in the garage, trouble started brewing.
All was fine at first. I prepared a container of litter and a cat chow buffet and set the kitties up in a cardboard box with a folded towel for insulation and fuzzy blanket for some extra warmth. The feline princesses seemed thoroughly grateful. They purred and snuggled in and observed life from the box. But as the cold days continued, restlessness set in and they were no longer content with the cardboard condo. They began exploring the garage floor and even caught a mouse. Good kitties!
Then the unthinkable happened. Or at least I hadn’t thought about it. The kittens were again nestled in their box as we shut the lights off and went to bed, but the next morning we were greeted with two calico fur balls perched on the top of my white car and an abundance of dirty little footprints. It appeared as though they had a dance party on the hood, trunk, and roof, and even did the Electric Slide down the windshield a few times. The car was not happy and neither was the husband.
Well, the car got washed and the cats will be returning to the barn as the thermostat rises, but dirty footprints got me thinking about appearances. We spend so much time cleaning and maintaining, primping and preening, just to make sure we look good on the outside, but do we give due diligence to what’s on the inside. Does our heart and attitude get the same amount of attention as the face in the mirror? Are we as attentive to soul maintenance as we are to car maintenance?
A story is told in 1 Samuel 16 about choosing a new king for the people of Israel. God sends Samuel on a mission and he sees several young men who he considers to be a good option. But God says no. More specifically, God says, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
If God is more interested in your heart than your appearance, that’s probably a good place for us to look too. During this season of Lent, let’s be more concerned with our heart condition than just looking our Sunday best. “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10