If you are interested in learning about hope, take a walk sometime through an old auto recycling yard especially during the long, dark and cold days of winter. These places are fast disappearing now. Once an icon of a time when young men and dads used to fix their own cars by removing parts from others “less fortunate,” these days you have to do some real searching to find a yard that still has an inventory of pre-1970 automobiles.
I have always seen old junk yards as more than just a place of rust and salvage. When I walk a junk yard as I did recently, I am always struck by the fact that old cars and trucks have a story to tell. Take that old Plymouth station wagon reposing at the end of a row of pre-1960 classics. Rusted, old shards of rubber still clinging to rims that haven’t turned in over thirty years, it’s more than just a heap of metal destined for the crusher. Despite its sagging roof and toothless grill; despite the elements of wind, rain, snow and sun that have long enjoyed repose inside of its once plush interior, that old Plymouth has a story to tell, a story about someone’s hopes and dreams.
There was a time back in 1953 when a brand-new Plymouth station wagon was proudly parked in front of a local dealership. It was one of those Mom and Pop dealerships that only sold maybe a dozen or so cars a year. There were probably only spots for three or four cars in front of the little store and room for a customer to park a car. The showroom had a desk and a chair and a large glass display area where each new car took its turn for a week or so, displaying its chrome for all to see. That little station wagon had taken its turn in the display. That’s when a young couple with a couple of kids had seen her just a few weeks back. Now they had returned to take a test drive. With overdrive transmission, dual spotlights, a high-fidelity radio, a sturdy luggage rack and a cargo department to boot, the station wagon had a lot to offer. As they stood there peering at their future, they envisioned trips out west to see the Grand Canyon and leisurely drives to see Grandma and Grandpa up at the lake. Mom and Dad in the front seat and the three kids sacked-out in the back. There was room for them and even future growth. Even though they had a mortgage to pay and on $75.00 a week life was difficult, that little Plymouth station wagon would give them something they really needed--hope that the future would be somehow bigger, brighter and better. They bought into the hope at $30.00 a month with a down payment of $350.
Now, over fifty years later, what had once been a symbol of hope is but a symbol of how time, the environment and our own changing lives are ever-working to change the things we hope in into things we had hoped for. That little Plymouth station wagon was but a testimony to a time of hope and dreams that had moved on to something better, newer, more stylish and useful. Perhaps they had made it to the Grand Canyon and perhaps not. Perhaps their little station wagon had proved much more plebian in purpose and use. Maybe it never hauled anything more romantic than a Christmas tree on its rack. From the looks of the passenger side spotlight, rusted tight to the door panel, no hand had even touched the handle to move its beam. The dreams that had been cast upon it that sunny afternoon so long ago had proved but temporary and fleeting. It wasn’t long before a dead battery, flat tire or frozen radiator had brought the owners back down to earth. That seems to be the way of hope in this life any way. With the things of this life we tend to plant our hopes, resting them securely almost abandoning them to chance. Then, as time grinds away at them, we loose our grip and eventually let them slip away altogether. An auto graveyards is more a graveyard of hopes than it is a place of rust and salvage.
A man sentenced to death obtained a reprieve by assuring the king he would teach his majesty’s horse to fly within the year--on the condition that if he didn’t succeed, he would be put to death at the end of the year. “Within a year,” the man explained later, “the king may die, or I may die, or the horse may die. Furthermore, in a year, who knows? Maybe the horse will learn to fly.” (Bernard M. Baruch) Isn’t hope in this life often like this? We tend to rest our hope in things that are doomed to fail yet we are comfortable with the time we have in reprieve. Even though that reprieve has its limits we would rather not think about it just now. God has a different plan for hope in our lives. His hope is something that grows stronger and more secure day by day. And this hope will never end up in a junk yard. It’s a hope built on a promise that He will always “remember” His promises. There are no rusty promises in heaven.
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