That’s the name Janice gave to a 1975 Plymouth Duster we had for parts of three decades. I had bought it brand-new for $3,300 before we met in January of 1976. Actually, it was my father who purchased the car and set up a payment plan for me. I was a freshman in college, but I had a 40-hour a week job, so it wasn’t a big reach. Anyway, the car came with a heater and that was it. Nothing power (windows, brakes, steering), no A/C, automatic transmission, or even a radio. I was able to talk him into adding the radio.
Like all cars, it had its own little eccentricities. To open the passenger side door, you grabbed the handle and depressed a button. It was supposed to pop back out, but it didn’t. Since the car door wouldn’t remain shut without that button popping back out, you had to strategically whack the door a couple of inches under the button to get it to pop back out. It really wasn’t that big of a deal once you knew that, but I suppose it looked a little odd to see someone open the door, whack it, and then shut it as they got into the car.
Then there was the transmission. It was a 3-speed, straight shift. The problem was that sometimes the shifting mechanism came out of the linkage and your transmission locked up. To remedy this, you had to hop out of the car at the red light or the four way stop, pop the hood, and push the shifter back into the linkage. Now this was definitely a pain, but you learned to deal with it. I showed Janice how to do it and we she became quite adept at it.
I remember loaning the car to a friend for a few days one time. I carefully explained our car’s special features to him, and he nodded understandingly. Nevertheless, when he returned the car, he was visibly upset and wanted to know what kind of friend I was to loan him a car like that.
We brought all three of our children home from the hospital in that car, survived four frigid winters in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and traveled all over the country in it, but we finally had to part with it. We just reached that point where it wasn’t cost-effective to keep it and rather than pouring money into it through constant repairs, we realized we would be better off making a down-payment on another car.
This is the kind of thing Jesus is talking about in Mark 2:18-22 when He speaks of not putting new patches on old garments or new wine in old wineskins. There comes a time when every person should realize their old lifestyle (the one that’s independent of Christ), doesn’t work. We can try to patch it with the approval of friends, good deeds or pleasant thoughts, but the truth is we are in need of something new and radically different. That something is the life that Jesus calls us to in His kingdom.
Papa Duster had a lot of good qualities and memories we will cherish—but it didn’t have the ability to take us where we needed to go. The same thing is true for a life being lived apart from Jesus. I have no desire to be offensive but a life without Christ is built on no transcendent truth, doesn’t acknowledge its Creator and Redeemer in the way they deserve, and knows nothing of the peace, joy, and hope that Jesus brings.
God calls you through the good news of Jesus (2 Thessalonians 2:14). If you are ready to respond, Acts 2:36-41 will tell you what you need to do to enter into the kingdom.