But God said, “You are wrong”

Zechariah 3:1-2 The Accuser, Satan, was there making accusations against Jeshua. But the Lord said to Satan, “I, the Lord, reject your accusations, Satan.” [CEV: But the Lord said, “Satan, you are wrong.”]

Dave was in Paraguay the first week of March when I took our 2005 Toyota Corolla to our mechanic for its annual inspection. I made the appointment as early in the month as possible because I was concerned about a warning light on our dashboard.

Indeed, our trusted mechanic called me with a list of problems. That little dashboard light signaled the most expensive of them: the catalytic converter. “Your car will never pass emissions testing,” he told me. “All told, even using recycled parts, you’re looking at several thousand dollars to pass inspection. Save your money to replace this car.”

I reported this to Dave by email, and he said he would start looking for a “new” reliable and affordable car when he got home. We would have three weeks to replace our car before we would become liable for fines for not renewing our inspection and emissions testing.

A couple of days later, the little light on the dashboard disappeared. It still had not come back on when I drove to the airport March 8 to pick up Dave. “Here’s what I think we should do,” I told him on our way home. “I think we should seek a second opinion.”

Dave agreed it couldn’t hurt (other than losing time on our car search). I made an appointment for Thursday, March 12 with a mechanic recommended by a friend. At that point, if the second opinion matched the first, we would have a little over two weeks to replace our car.

The little light stayed off, but the other mechanic had identified so many problems, I wasn’t optimistic.

“Your car is ready. Pick it up any time before 4:00.”

“Really? I mean—I beg your pardon?”

He probably thought I was half deaf. The mechanic repeated what he had said and hung up. When I got there, he handed me the bill and the keys. Our car sported bright shiny stickers with March 2021 on them. We were legal for another year.

“You didn’t find any problems?”

“Nope. Just a small oil leak. Looks like it’s been there for a while. Not worth fixing.”

“It passed the emissions test.”

“Yep. I did rotate your tires. Charged you $1 for that.”

“If it were you, would you keep this car?”

“Absolutely. She still has a lot of life in her.”

Bemused, I paid the inspection and emissions testing fees and drove home. Dave shrugged and we looked at each other with eyebrows raised. We still don’t know how to explain any of this. Or what will happen next. At the least, we gained a reprieve.

All that happened before social distancing and shelter-at-home became our new lifestyle. (Can that really be true? It seems like we’ve been doing this for a long time already!) We didn’t know that soon all non-essential businesses would be closed. We don’t know whether we would have been able to find a replacement car under these conditions.

The power of a second opinion

I thought of this experience when I re-read this intriguing passage from Zechariah, led there by the old and new clothing imagery in our Lenten reading in Ephesians. Keep reading in Zechariah to understand what I mean. It is so cool that God rejected Satan’s accusations while Jeshua still wore filthy clothes: See, I have taken away your sins, and now I am giving you these fine new clothes (Zech 3:4, compare with Ephesians 5:21-24 and Colossians 3:9-10).

I think Lent includes recognizing we can’t do anything for ourselves, other than accept God’s second opinion. What we can do is gratefully trust and lean into his new lease on life, for the joy of using the resources he gives us to serve others.

The dashboard light still hasn’t come back on. Which reminds me: I’m off to the grocery store in my Corolla to shop for a neighbor who can’t get out . . .

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