And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming. If you know that he is righteous, you know that everyone who does what is right has been born of him. –1 John 2:28-29
Emily has a love-hate relationship with her van. On the love side, it is remarkably better than the vehicle she drove previously, but then pretty much any vehicle not belching flames would be better than what Emily had before. On the hate side, however, the van is old enough to drive itself, a 1991 Chevy van. Yes, the mileage is low, but it has had a number of issues, not the least of which is that it fails to start at the most inconvenient of times. (The most inconvenient of times for a vehicle not to start, by the way, would be whenever you want to go somewhere.)
Last week, Emily found herself stranded at a pizza joint with nothing happening under the hood when the key turned. Seeing that we had just put a new battery into the beast about two weeks ago, this proved especially irritating. It seems that the alarm my parents installed on the van many years ago has some sort of mysterious elusive short that drains the battery in short order. Or perhaps the alternator is going out. Or perhaps there are car gremlins in the works. I don’t know. What I do know is that Emily has not grown more confident of that van starting when she piles the kids into it. That’s a terrific way to live life.
My Toyota Corolla, nearly four years old now, is a beautifully dependable car. Well maintained and parked in a garage every night, it ought to be a beautifully dependable car. The time will come, of course, when my little green Corolla becomes a maintenance headache with wheels falling off or the windshield imploding in my face. Until then, however, I’ll simply pretend that it will forever function as designed. That’s so much better than Emily’s experience, after all.
That sort of assurance and reliability is what John celebrates as this chapter ends. It’s the sort of confidence that he has been emphasizing upon his readers for the last several verses. I could put my faith in obedience but instead, John wants me to put my faith in God. I could trust in the requirements imposed upon me by false religious teachers, but instead I can continue trusting in God, a path that leads to confidence.
If only I could trust in God as well as I trust in my Corolla. In my heart of hearts I know that God is far more worthy of my faith than my car. I know that my car will one day fail, while God will not. Still, that sort of confidence does not come easily. I attempt to bolster it various insurances, which don’t bolster it at all. Instead they undermine it.
Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.