Restoration — And the Art of Motorcar Repair

I believe that within us all is a drive to restore. Restoration is our calling and purpose upon this earth. Christianity is unique in its narrative that this world is not the way it was meant to be. It is damaged. It is inferior to the ideal. Even the best possible human life is left wanting in the end.

The reason we are in this great position of unease is not clear. Many great preachers, philosophers, and thinkers have tried to find the handle on this metaphysical dilemma., but have come up short. Only God knows.

defender restore

It is one of things we mortals cannot know in this life but only speculate about. Why did the Christian God not create a world that was and remained perfect to the end? The cliches down work here any more. But such a world wouldn’t have an end would it? Why isn’t there Heaven here on earth? If you think you know the secret . . . well, just keep it to yourself. You are only building sand castles out of the wind.

Of course, the Gospel is the story of restoration. But it is not only our personal story of finding peace with God, the world, and ourselves. It is our commission of purpose to bring this restoration to the world. This carrier of hope and repair is woven into the fabric of our souls. We can’t escape it. It comes out of our pores and seeps from our hidden places. It is who we are. We are the great restorers, although some do not live up to this calling but live as active destroyers.

It is from this place of being the restorer that many of our hobbies find their wellspring. The desire to fix, restore, paint, recover and replace. For me personally, I have spent years restoring and repairing old houses. While it has given me some satisfaction, it has also left me much poorer. This never became so clear to me as when I had spent years restoring an old victorian house in Minnesota and the next buyer only wanted it to tear down for the land.

I have had the chance to restore a few old cars. The most notable ones are an old Land Rover Series III and now, my dream car, a Land Rover Defender 90. I fell in love with the cars when there was one parked on my block in Cairo, Egypt. Then I assumed they were beyond reach because they (except for a few years in the case of the Defender) never sold in the US. This all changed for me in 1998 when I was on a cross country trip with my family. At Grand Teton National Park, I spotted a Land Rover Defender in a parking lot. Then, as I discovered web sites such as E bay, I became hooked.

Last year I found this 1990 Defender from an importer, who brought it from the Italian Alps. To the Italian owner, it was a junker, worthless. For some strange psychological reason such Defenders have great value in the US and are worth restoration.

There is something deeply satisfying, from a psychological or spiritual place, to seeing a bolt or part that doesn’t work and is a rusty mess. Then to grind the rust out, replace the mechanical parts with  new ones, rust-proof it, paint it and make it as close as new as possible. This craving or passion comes from that deep place where we want to restore this earth, the people and nature to that incorruptible perfection that it once held.

I only wish that my own soul was subject to the angle grinder, rust-proofing and replacement with a stainless steel equivalent.  I only wish I could take the lives of people who have broken, and to unbreak them. What joy it would be to restore them completely. We speak of human restoration, but most of the time we are speaking of forgiveness and a hope of true restoration in the new earth far into the future. Full restoration is not possible in this world, because this world is not pure.



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