Because of recent car troubles, I experienced a great deal of what it means to show God’s steadfast love from this congregation. I also learned a little something about Iowa’s Department of Motor Vehicles.
Some of you reading this know that I recently had a little bit of car trouble. I had a tiny accident while moving here. Due to the age of my car and the panel on the car where it connected with another person’s car, the insurance company decided to total it out. Now, under normal circumstances, this would be a major inconvenience for someone during their every-day comings and goings. I can tell you that for someone who is just about six-hundred and fifty miles from “home,” it was more than a little extra disconcerting. Ohio’s laws about vehicles that are retained by the owner after being totaled out by their insurance make it clear that I would need to have the vehicle inspected by a member of Ohio State Highway Patrol, and that means I would have to drive the car all the way back to Ohio. That wasn’t going to happen. So, my only option was to let the insurance company take the vehicle and receive a very good amount of money for it. In the end it does appear to have worked out in my favor. As things go, I wish I hadn’t wasted so much of my energy worrying about it.
I learned a fair amount about the inner workings of Iowa’s government bureaucracy. More importantly, I experienced a wonderful lesson about the people of this community and this congregation. I was used to Ohio’s Department of Motor Vehicles, Ohio laws, and all the quirks that go with them. I was actually fairly worried about the hoops I imagined I would have to jump through to acquire a car, pay the tags and title fees, and keep it here, while being a student resident from another state, three states away. To the credit of the people working in the Polk County offices and to the credit of the elected officials who set up the laws over the years, I have to say that things are actually fairly streamlined! People responded very quickly, very politely, and informed me of what all I needed to do, which wasn’t much. From this experience, things might work a little better here than they do in Ohio! So, after the pandemic eventually clears up, the next time you are stuck in a line at the DMV around Des Moines, consider that it might be worse if you were stuck in line at the DMV around Toledo!
The people of this congregation, all of you, as one body of Christ, the experience I had from you is where the real lesson is. What I was able to observe from you was a great example of our preaching topic for the next couple of months, God’s Steadfast Love. In this difficult time of a fearful pandemic and social distancing, I was able to experience selfless acts of God’s steadfast love. I only told a small group of people my car troubles, and when my car was permanently gone from the driveway for a couple of weeks (yet I was clearly still here) it was noticeable to a few more. The number of people who reached out via email to offer a ride to help me pick up groceries was heartwarming and reassuring. To be responsible with social distancing, I had to turn down all the offers, and I’m sure that many more people would have let me know that they were available to help if we were not all trying to socially distance at least somewhat at the present time. Thank you, you wonderful congregation, for doing exactly what the people of God do.
I do wish I hadn’t spent my energy in the two months that I have been here worrying about everything; from “How am I going to get my groceries home?” to “which crazy government forms am I going to need to fill out 15 times?" This is a live-and-learn situation. What I should have done, perhaps what we all need to do a little more, is trust in God’s steadfast love.
For a final thought, I did stumble upon Psalm 13:5 while contemplating all this, “But I trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.”
Vicar Matt Milbrodt