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Thursday, Oct. 23, 2014

Quick fixes don't always get to the root of a problem

Friday, December 30, 2011

When our children were younger, they typically failed to recognize the benefits of the "life lessons" their frugal father was determined to teach them. Take for instance, the car Dave bought for Adam, our middle son, who was then in high school. The ultimate goal was for Adam to hand it down to his brother Andy who would drive it for several years.

Dave went on a Crocodile Dundee quest, diligently searching for a "man's man" vehicle. Settling on a 1983 Suburban, my husband claimed its diesel engine and four-wheel drive would keep it on the road until the boys' grandkids could be blessed by it, and since it was only $2,000, even if it did have a few issues that required a few repairs, it was still a bargain.

I don't have enough space in this column to write of its "issues." Not only was it dented in more places than it was smooth, but after replacing two transmissions (the first was held in place with bailing wire, we later found out), three motors, a set of tires, anchors to hold the front seat in place, etc., etc., Dave and I were $14,000 in the hole. With each breakdown I tried to convince my husband to push the monster off a cliff, but he was relentless, convinced that "this time" it surely would be fixed.

It never was. If some vehicles are lemons, this would have won the blue ribbon at the county fair. By the time Andy drove to college in Texas, there was little that did work in the ugly, rusted beast.

For some reason I can't remember, I flew to Texas to drive it home. Probably for more repairs. It was August, well over 100 degrees, and no amount of button-pushing would turn the heater off. It blasted away like a leaf blower, hitting directly on my right foot -- you know, the one used to push on the gas pedal. I was no more than 10 miles from Andy's apartment when I called him and asked what I should do about my bright pink, blistering foot.

"Just hang it out the window," he answered, with a certain "duh" quality that he would never have been gutsy enough to use with me face-to-face.

"Andy, it's my right foot. I need it to drive."

"I know that, Mom," he continued. "Just cross it over your left leg and hang it out the window. Drive with your left foot for a while. That's what I do." Swell.

Which, come to think of it, is what my foot proceeded to do. By the time I arrived in Fort Scott I needed an ice bag for my foot and my back. (Did I mention there were no shocks in this vehicle?)

The problem with that car was that nothing ever got fixed correctly . . . or completely. We would pay the mechanic or dealership, only to find that they were treating the symptoms, not the problem, and that we were still stuck with a clunker.

Isn't that just like us? So many times, we want a quick fix. "Tell me what the Bible says about my situation, Pastor, and I'll do it."

"I need a Christian counselor who can give me a 12-Step program for healing."

"Maybe if I get on my knees five minutes a day God will bail me out of this mess."

All temporary answers with no long-term results. Oswald Chambers cautions us with these words: "A man has to learn the plague of his own heart before his own problems can be solved."

Chances are, without getting to the Adamic nature of the problem (sin), our solution will be a Band-Aid and not a cure. God desires that we know Him, not just know about Him, and that we spend quality time developing that relationship.

If we commit ourselves to that goal, chances are we will have little problem learning the "life lessons" our Father wants to teach us. In the end, those savings will not be monetary, but they will be eternal.

Patty LaRoche
Patty LaRoche: Face to Face