My Dad made sure I knew how to take care of the car before I could get my driver’s license. He even watched as I changed a tire just to be sure that if I was ever by the side of the road with a flat, I would know what to do. He helped me buy a new car before I moved to the big city. I’ve never changed another tire, but I pumped my own gas and made sure to get regular tune ups.
Until I married a mechanic. My new husband would drive my car regularly just to make sure everything felt and sounded right. And he always made sure I had plenty of gas. What had for me always been a necessary chore was for him an expression of love. Every time I sat in the driver’s seat and saw the needle was on “F” instead of closer to “E” I was smiled because of his love for me.
A few years ago, we unexpectedly found ourselves among the unemployed. After a year in which both of us worked various part-time/temporary jobs, he found a more permanent position. It had its perks (like good health insurance), but he no longer had flexibility in his schedule. He could not drive the kids to school each morning, and he often works overtime and mandatory Saturdays.
The first time I gassed the car after he started the new job, I considered how very different our lives were going to be. I thought about many things I missed from our days working together in ministry. But I never doubted my husband’s love for me. Perhaps because in our new situation we were finding new ways to affirm our love; or maybe because he had so completely demonstrated his love in the past that I could not be easily convinced of any change.
As I stood pumping gas for the first time in years, I understood Habakkuk 3:17-19. Habakkuk was distressed by the sins of his people, but also because it seemed all the tokens of God’s love and protection had been removed; he was troubled to see the nation being destroyed by a far more sinful nation. Yet even in that time of crisis the prophet knew that God’s love endures, and so he affirms:
Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.