God’s Providence

What is that exactly?

So the other day the power steering fails, potentially an expensive disaster. It’s not like I can keep a spare car to drive to work while one is in the shop. Seemingly it’s a catastrophe, but the steering works well enough to get home. The pump’s not in stock, and must be ordered. By the time it comes in the weather’s supposed to be bad, but the pump still works well enough to back the car into the garage. I’m inside under cover, with good light so I can work on it at night. A scheduling change at work gives me some extra time.

Getting into it, I find the top mounting bolt loose, and the bottom mounting bolt sheared off. Catastrophe! I’ll have to get some special gizmo to extract the stub from the mount, maybe even have the car towed in to the shop. But no, the stub is loose and comes out easily. I replaced the power steering pump about three years ago. I figure this failure is the result of me not torquing the bolts to specification, or not using Loctite, or not inspecting the mounting bolts every 3,000 miles like a neurotic gearhead. So, off to pick up the new pump, that’s supposed to have come in now.

The pump is in, but doesn’t include the drive pulley. You take the pulley off the old one and reuse it. You need a special tool to remove and reinstall the pulley. The store rents the tools, the parts guy tells me. I expect an extortionate charge, but it turns out there’s no charge to borrow the tool, just a deposit you get back when you return it. The rest of the process goes as smoothly as anything I’ve done on a car.

So the new power steering pump is installed, and I’m out of pocket no more than fifty dollars – not bad at all. But the steering still doesn’t work quite right. I assume there’s still some air in the system, and indeed it seems to get better. The next morning I get in the car to go and do something, and the battery is dead. So, an hour’s delay while I put the charger on it, then it starts right up. Going to close the hood, I see hydraulic fluid jetting out of a hole in a line up by the left front wheel. What now, a brake line? Well, good thing it failed in the driveway and not ten miles out in the country. I give up, and call the shop.

Christianity and automotive maintenance

The mechanic says bring it in and he’ll take a look when he gets a chance. If the brakes don’t work it’ll have to be towed, which I imagine will be like thirty-five hundred dollars. In fact it’s (wait for it) a power steering line. The foam in the power steering reservoir was too subtle a clue for me. It still works well enough for me to get it to the shop, and it’s a forty minute walk home – my cardio for the day.

Now the car’s in the shop, and I haven’t heard anything yet. It will be a few days before I have to go anywhere I can’t walk. So far things have worked out every step of the way, and I trust in God’s providence that things will continue to work out. But what does that mean exactly?

It doesn’t mean if you go to church bad things won’t happen to you. It doesn’t mean if you put money in the plate God will send you ten times as much money, or any money at all. It doesn’t mean if you’re a Christian you’ll be happy all the time. I don’t entirely know what it does mean, but whether things look good, or things look bad, God is guiding everything for the best in the end.

Sometimes you see it, usually you don’t, but God is always at work. “Therefore, take no thought of the morrow, saying what will we eat or what will we wear” doesn’t mean you don’t have to wash your clothes anymore, or that you can just sit by the side of the road waiting for someone to bring you food. Power steering pumps will still fail when they wear out. Your car may break down by the side of the road; you may not be able to get to work; you may lose you job, then come home to find your garage in flames. There will be catastrophes. Somehow, you shouldn’t worry about it. You should pitch in and work with God, and let Him work through you. That’s what I’ve got so far.

God didn’t just create the universe and then let it go like a wind-up robot. He’s continually involved in sustaining the world and advancing His Plan. When we see evidence of this, we call it Divine Providence, but it’s there all the time. Sometimes when we need it we get a glimpse of the Plan. When we can’t see it, we have to remember there is a plan, and keep doing what we can to advance it.

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2 Replies to “God’s Providence”

    1. It is hard to do, and relatively minor car repairs aren’t anywhere near really tough. Conversely, when things look like they’re going well, I seek out things to worry about, as a kind of sacrifice to the fates. Recognizing that as superstitious nonsense, I’ve lately gotten better about that. I’m not sure how to avoid worry, but tentatively it may have something to do with thinking about others, and understanding that they’re thinking about you.

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