Can I Borrow A Nail?

Because I just bought a car.

Though used, it’s clean and shiny, but I might as well drag a nail down the side because sooner or later it will get dinged, dented, or demolished.  If I don’t do it myself, I’ve got kids who drive.

Recently a friend from college informed me he’s now completely bald.  And my own once quarter-sized bald spot is now a medium-sized divot. Am I headed for a bad combover?  Spurgeon said that in 100 years we’ll all be bald.

One thing the financial crisis is revealing, as investments and jobs go up in smoke, is that this world is about as permanent as the crema on your espresso.

Moses wrote in Psalm 90, “Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations” (v1).

Moses and the Israelites zig-zagged around the desert for 40 years, longing to put down roots in the promised land.  Living in tents is ok for about 3 days when your kids are little, but after oh, 35 years or so, it gets old.  You get tired of checking your Chuck Taylors for scorpions every morning, sweeping the sand out of the tent, and brewing your coffee over a fire pit.

Moses saw a whole generation perish without seeing the promised land, because of their grumbling unbelief.  Moses locked himself out too, when he whacked a rock instead of ordering it to yield water as God had commanded him.

Moses realized that ultimately GOD was Israel’s dwelling place, not this world.

This fading world is not our true home.  We’re just camping here.  Aliens, renters.  GOD is our permanent residence, as D.A. Carson says.  Only God is everlasting and unchanging. Our eyes will dim and our hair will thin, but Jesus remains the same.  He alone is our security, our stability, our dwelling place.

Isn’t it wonderful how the gospel locates our joy in the one who said “I will never leave you nor forsake you,” and not in this fragile, fleeting planet?

photo by bump4

  • Wendy

    Thank you for the reminder! This gives such peace and assurance. I too am abou to buy a new (used) car that wil probably get messed up (whether by me or someone else). It is good to be reminded going in that it’s not a big deal, because this is not my permanent home. Last week I found out that starting this week my hours at work will be cut to 4 day weeks. God was faithful in that moment that I found out to give me peace and trust in Him. I am not living for anything that this world may give me, money to live by included. God gives us grace to deal with situations that we face, and promises to provide for our needs. What a wonderful privilige that we have been given the grace to live with our hope in a risen Savior who, by His death, has reconciled us to a Holy God. The worst thing that this world can do to me is kill me- and then I am with my Father. This gives such joy!

  • Ron Reffett

    Wow, thank you Mark!
    You don’t know how appropriate this is today, i just lost my job this morning. After twelve years of service to my company, they just don’t have the funds to keep as many people afloat.
    I’m totally amazed at God’s faithfulness and timing with this, I know that no matter what, He’s in control and He will get the glory in the end. As in Don Carson’s quote says above, Jesus is all we need He is indeed our dwelling place not this world that is fading. Thank you so much for some much needed encouragement!
    Ron Reffett

  • Mark Altrogge


    I’m sorry to hear that you’ve been cut back to 4 days a week. I will pray for you. I know that our Lord is going to provide for you. And I appreciate your strong faith – it is pleasing to the Lord to trust him in our trials and it glorifies him as well. Please let me know if there is anything else I can pray for you for.


    I feel so bad for you, and can’t imagine how hard that news was for you to find out this morning. I will pray for you. I hope that I can have as much faith as you are exhibiting should I go through anything like you are. Our Lord is faithful and he will supply your needs out of the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. Like I said to Wendy, please let me know if there’s anything else I can pray for you for.

  • Jim Brown

    Thanks, in these tough times it is important to remember what really matters.

    BTW – back in 2002 I bought my first ever new vehicle, the cheapest truck on the lot (technically it barely made it as new since it had just over a thousand miles on it) but four days later, while I still had the temporary paper tag on it, somebody slid the nose of their Camaro under the rear end as I was sitting at a red light. Just enough so I knew they hit me, didn’t do any damage to my new truck (it did scrape about a square foot of paint from their hood) but it was now baptized – no longer did I have to worry about the first ding. I’m still driving that truck and hope to get another seven or eight years out of it.

    God bless,

  • Mark Altrogge

    Hey Jim,

    Great story. Glad to hear you’re still driving your truck. Almost every vehicle I’ve ever owned has been dented or smashed in some way except for my 73 Buick Opel which eventually rotted out underneath so that the driver’s seat began sinking down and tilting to the left. Hope your truck lasts a long time.