Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Gauges Gone Wild

A few days after blogging about where we put our trust, I got a real-life example. To me, it is fairly reasonable to expect your car to start each morning, especially in the summer. But sometimes things don't go quite as planned.

Thursday morning I got quite a surprise. The car doors unlocked okay. But from then on, it was strange. The gauges went wild when I turned the key or opened the door or did anything that might trigger a communication with the battery. The engine did not turn over even one rotation. The speedometer went from zero to 140 and back within a second. The tachometer and other gauges behaved wildly as well. It was very strange.

The car had been working just fine the day before. So this was quite a surprise. After a bit of Internet research, I read that one person claimed this was "normal" behavior for a dead battery for this car. It would have been nice to have some advanced warning with a slow cranking start or something like that. But no, not this time.

I cleaned the battery posts that were still pretty clean. Some neighbors were kind enough to give the battery a "jump". So then at least I could drive to an auto parts store. I let it charge for several minutes. At the auto parts store I turned it off and tried to restart the engine. The same wild behavior returned. Unfortunately, my battery was kind of pricey as auto makers try to make everything special. Fortunately, I was able to replace the battery myself (unlike simple tasks like replacing headlights that now require a dealer to get to the headlight bulb).

I have now waited a few days to see if the charging system is functional. So far the car still starts. So the battery replacement seems to have been the ticket. But that was an extra $100 I didn't plan to spend this month.

What can I learn? Worldly assumptions are not always trustworthy. Certainly we need to place some trust in everyday life. But a fallen world sometimes fails.

God was gracious enough to not let the battery fail until payday when I had a chance to buy a battery.

I am reminded of the Biblical passages e.g. Matthew 7:15-23 where Jesus talked about various miracles and powerful signs. In some cases, the actions were basically useless without the power of God and relationship with God. If we are disconnected from the power source, we can turn the key or remote or flip any other switch. And the results will have little fruit. Once we are connected to the Power Source, then our actions can truly make a difference. And we have a more accurate gauge of our impact.

Stay connected to the power source. Stay connected to the vine that brings life. A car can fulfill its purpose and destiny once it is rightly connected to a power source. And so can we.

Sonic Boom

If you watch certain TV shows and channels, you have most likely seen the advertising for Sonic Drive-In restaurants. Until recently there was no opportunity to visit one in this area of Minnesota. I did visit one in Iowa a few years ago though.

Recently, a Sonic Drive-In opened in Saint Paul. At least three weeks later, we went there around five on a Saturday afternoon, shortly after a storm blew through. At least three weeks after the grand opening, there was still a long wait. Traffic control personnel were hired to manage the demand. If you wanted a drive-in spot, you had to go to a staging area down the block in another parking lot and wait in line for at least 20 minutes.

Sonic had found a demand. It may be mostly driven by curiosity at this point. The long-term success has not been determined yet. But, by most accounts, their entrance into the Twin Cities was a huge success.

They are just fast food. But Sonic offers something new. They offer a wide spectrum of drinks and desserts. Their meals have a few unique offerings as well.

So what can we learn from this? If you are hungry and near Saint Paul, you may wish to check them out. Their TV advertising built a pent-up demand. It wasn't until they opened a store that they understood the payoff. Our efforts, as well, can be very productive with fruit we have yet to see.

But mostly, from my perspective, Sonic offered some new options and possibilities. Churches and businesses take heed. If you offer something new and at least partially innovative, people may be willing to at least check it out. Obviously, people were not totally content with their food options in the Twin Cities. And, since about 75% do not attend church on a given Sunday, they aren't too excited about their Christian worship options either.

Fresh approaches and fresh attitudes have a chance of meeting people where they are at. There are signs there is pent-up demand for churches or Christian fellowships that have fresh and innovative ways of touching lives. Dare to be different. Dare to take some risks. You never know. You may touch off a Sonic boom that impacts dozens or hundreds of lives.