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Hope for the Hopeless

a story about me

My first car was a pristine 1969 Ford Mustang; a gift from my dad. At the time, he was a hard-working janitor braving California's Bay Area commute to make ends meet. I loved that Mustang. It was fast, wild and free, just like I wanted to be.

My dad took care of my car, checking the oil and making sure it was in top condition before I raced out of the driveway. When I moved to Hawaii, I asked him to send me the Mustang. Like the great and generous father he was, he sent it to the islands.

Regrettably, he had a reckless rebel for a daughter and it wasn't long before that bright and beautiful vehicle was sent to a junkyard in Hawaii.

I didn't check the oil, ran it out of gas, and then I flooded the engine during a torrential tropical storm. After that, the car was never the same. When it backfired, flames would shoot out of the exhaust pipe, sending cars swerving about on the freeway. I ended up asking a friend to swap out the engine. That didn't help. The only thing left to do was to trade it in for a vehicle that could get me to work.

I never told my dad what happened to the Mustang. He might have not known the details, but it's likely he knew the essence of what happened.

I ruined a treasure.

It was hopeless, like me.

Sounds a bit like the story of the Prodigal Son, right?

Just like the Prodigal Son's father, my dad never condemned me for neglecting his gift. When I later purchased a new Mustang, and lost it too, he still didn't say a word.

Eventually, I needed to jumpstart my life. He picked me up from the airport and we drove home in his rusty old van that was anything but fast, wild and free.

Dad was a fisherman, of fish and people too. Like scooping up a fish in a net, he rescued my heart, and my dignity. My heart healed in that stinky van, jam packed with fishing poles and coolers loaded with fish bait.

I still dream about that Mustang. It's become a metaphor of God's love — the love of a Heavenly Father.

For a long time, I hid my shortcomings and sins from my earthly father and my Heavenly Father. But my fears were misplaced, and so was my shame.

The best way to live fast, wild and free is by driving with God, not away from him. In the presence of the Father, I'm still the rebel, but with purpose: to be free, live free and set free.

My dad loved me. God loves me. And I share my testimony so that you may know that He loves you too.

Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.
— James 1:17 (NASB)