My father passed away 2.5 years ago, leaving behind a beautiful legacy that included a herd of Texas Longhorn cattle and a beat-up old truck used to take care of them. My dad always saw his truck as a tool to be used to accomplish what he needed to get done. If that meant the truck suffered a little damage in the process so be it. Whether it was messing up the bumper chasing a cow through the field or a side mirror breaking due to a cow horn hitting it, that was fine so long as he could finish his work. His truck has character and I love it.
The other day as I was walking out to the truck that my mom was waiting in, I started laughing looking at the messed up bumper, the duct-taped side mirror, the thing that hangs down at the back, the sweet little Texas Longhorn stickers my dad put on the back that are crooked and wondered what other people must think when they see it. Are they surprised when my mom or I get out of it? Is it who they are expecting? Do they look down on us for driving it? What do they think? But then I thought, what does it matter? No one knows the journey that it’s been on, the memories it holds, or more importantly whose it was. God very kindly in that moment revealed to me that the same is true for His people. We, as a culture, tend to look at outward appearances and judge people based on what we see. We think we can tell a lot about them by the way they dress, what they drive, how they behave, what they look like, what we see of their life when we actually have NO clue. We do not know the journey they have been on, what they have been through, the memories (good or bad) that they carry with them, and most importantly Whose they are. Everyone we encounter has a story, and the same Creator, whether they choose to recognize Him or not. The reason He tells us not to judge (James 4:11-12; Romans 2:1-3) is because we do not know what the back story is and what they have been through. We do not know their heart.
“People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”
– 1 Samuel 16:7
God is kind enough to reveal to us things in ways we can comprehend. He has been using my dad’s truck because it is something I can relate to. What has He been using in your life?
I had a dream this week that my mom traded in my dad’s beat-up Ford truck for a shiny new red Lincoln truck. She had done so without my knowledge, thinking she would do something nice and buy a new truck to replace the old to surprise me. In the dream, the new truck was parked in my driveway and she explained it was our new truck and that she had traded in the old one. I turned around to where the old truck is normally parked and it was gone. She was so excited about this nice gift she had for me. I was devastated, thinking, “You got rid of Dad’s truck and didn’t tell me? What about the memories? The good times? The history? I didn’t even get to drive it one last time! It’s just gone…” I was trying to hide my disappointment, but was brokenhearted, trying to tell myself it’s just a truck while at the same time, trying to calculate how much it would cost to get it back. Then I woke up.
I text my mom and sister telling them about the dream and for my mom not to get any ideas. In that moment, God brought revelation for the dream. How many times has He gone to bring new, beautiful, great things into my life and I questioned His good gifts because I am clinging to the past, former, old things?
“Do not call to mind the former things, or ponder things of the past. Behold, I will do something new, now it will spring forth; Will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, rivers in the desert.” -Isaiah 43:18-19
I like what is comfortable. Even if it is not the best thing for me, it’s what I know so I am reluctant to let it go. Why? I know God is a good, good Father and wants to surprise us with the best things for us. God didn’t send His son to die for us to come spiff up the old things that have gotten beat up along the way. He came to bring new things. God’s desire is to bring life and life in abundance (John 10:10). Not just make old things look better, but bring about new creations, new life, do something brand new. In my dream, it wasn’t some fixed up version of the former truck. It was a brand new, higher end, luxury truck. But I wasn’t happy about it because it wasn’t the one I knew. It wasn’t the truck I was familiar with, the thing I was comfortable with. We tend to look back and question God about what He’s taken from us instead of looking forward to the new things He’s doing in and around us. We hold onto the old ways, the old thoughts, the old beliefs, the old habits, the old sin patterns, the old people, instead of releasing them into the hands of our Father and allowing Him to do and bring exceedingly abundantly beyond anything we can think or imagine (Ephesians 3:20). We MUST be willing to let go of the old and get out of our comfort zone. Let go of the familiar and step into the new with Him.
God knows exactly what we need and exactly when we need it. When it’s time for a new ________, it will be at the right time, in the right way, that is absolutely the best thing for us. He knows us better than we know ourselves. When He gives new things, they truly are for our good and His glory. He has brought us this far and will not leave or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6). He is the ONLY ONE who knows our story, our journey, our ups and downs. He knows our heart inside and out and loves us with all He has so we must hold things loosely trusting Him to give and take as He sees fit.
I am not sure what God has planned for the old truck of my dad’s. Perhaps there are still lessons to learn through it. I may be driving this truck the next 10 years or the next 10 minutes, but when it’s time to let it go. I will. I will carry the memories with me, but not look back at the former things. The old is gone and the new has come. I am determined through prayer to become one who forgets the past and looks forward to what lies ahead so that I will be ready.
“No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead.” – Philippians 3:13