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As I woke up this morning and settled in to write a letter, I began in my Gratitude journal – a gift from my son and daughter-in-law this past Christmas. I was writing about my gratitude for being able to get feedback and instructions from the One Who created us when I got a flash-back to a childhood memory.

My dad was probably the most intelligent man I knew when I was a kid. He knew lots of things about almost everything. One way he saved money was fixing his own vehicles. He didn’t buy new. He didn’t have to. One of his best friends was a mechanic who not only repaired cars, he was a second- or third-generation owner of an enormous junk yard down the road from us. He also ran cars in races at a local speedway not far from our house. This guy knew cars. Over the years of their friendship, some of his expertise was transferred. When my dad spent time with his friend, he’d pick up tips, golden nuggets of information on automotive diagnostics, repair and maintenance, equal to none. They enjoyed spending time together. Their go-to resource for all things vehicular was called a Chilton’s manual. I don’t know who Chilton was, but evidently he was into cars.

If there was any doubt about what was going amiss with any vehicle, Frank and my dad would get the corresponding Chilton’s manual – Frank had a manual in his garage for all the most popular makes and models. These manuals were heavy 3 – 5” thick volumes which featured exploded views of engines, transmissions, brake systems, and so on and showed diagrams and instructions for trouble shooting, repairing and reassembly of every part of that particular vehicle. With the right tools, the time spent together talking possibilities through and the nearly limitless supply of replacement parts the junk yard afforded, it wasn’t long before those knocking, ticking, misfiring, and otherwise errant vehicles were purring again, just as intended.

When we moved from that house, my dad bought his own manual each time we got a new-to-us (used) vehicle and spent time on the phone with Frank and at the table, pouring over his Chilton’s so he could get under the car and get it running right.

Writing in my journal this morning, I am struck by how Chilton was not the first to come up with the idea of sharing manufacturer’s instructions in this way. As always, God was there first.

The Bible is, in many respects, like a Chilton’s manual for human beings. It gives operational tolerances, diagnostic and trouble-shooting tips, exploded views of lives gone wrong and repair and maintenance instructions that promote optimal operation and restoration. You may feel too dented, too damaged to believe you will ever be more than just another one of the cars in the junk yard. But our Manufacturer is a Master Mechanic. Spending time pouring over this manual, the Bible (sometimes "anagrammed" as "Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth"), and talking over the different options for restoration with the One Who made you and knows every specification, transfers this knowledge and deepens the friendship between you over the years. With such an amazing resource available to getting the vehicle of us running smoothly, why would we look anywhere else?

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