A few years back I saw a skit entitled “This is Not Your Life.” The skit had one young guy who had just died. An “angel” was showing him the things he did not do in his life. I was taking this in until he showed him one of those undone things: stealing a baby blue Ford Pinto. That, the angel finally assured him, was one thing he did not do.
At this point I was enraged. My first car was a 1971 baby blue Pinto. This was my life! How could he insult me this way?
The truth was, however, that the whole saga of the Pinto was an example of just how stupid two teenagers could be when they put their minds to it.
Back when I looked more like this, my parents offered to give me my grandmother’s large Pontiac, completely equipped, as my first car. But my brother didn’t think it was sporty enough, so he led me on a wild goose chase to find a compact American car (these were a novelty, and my father wouldn’t buy a foreign one) that he liked better. The lots we visited must have put the junior salesman onto us when we arrived. One lot showed my brother a Mercury Capri. While sitting in the driver’s seat, the salesman noted that “This car has reclining bucket seats,” after which he released same, sending my brother instantly back, his flight only ending when his bucket seat impacted the rear seat. (We were convinced he knew what he was talking about!)
After things like this and a lot of negotiating with my father, we ended up with the car you see above. Since it had a stick shift, my brother took me once around the block to master that, changed the tyres to the ones on the car (leaving the old ones in the garage,) took off for his senior year in military school, and left me with the Pinto.
With its 1600 cc engine and no air conditioning, it was too slow to either to rate as a “performance” car or to put enough air through it to beat the South Florida heat. But it got the job done. I referred to it as the “better than nothing” car and that just about said it all.
After two years, the car was sent to California with my brother, who was in maritime academy there. It provided him with enough transportation to take him away from his studies, which meant that his grades went to the bottom and he came home. He went to work for what was then called South Florida Flood Control, at which point the lack of air conditioning was driven home with a vengeance. This saga only ended when my father bought me a Toyota (this time not giving me a choice,) and the Pinto passed out of our family.
Getting back to the skit, the man that died was right not to have stolen the Pinto. Stealing a Pinto is a crime in every sense of the word. But the skit went on to point out that he who died wasn’t in the clear just because he didn’t do things like steal baby blue Pintos. The biggest thing he didn’t do was accept Jesus Christ as his Lord and Saviour, and that failure has awful eternal consequences.
In their work Logic, or the Art of Thinking, Antoine Arnauld and Pierre Nicole note the following:
…the greatest of all unwise things is to use one’s time and life for something else than to work towards and acquire something that never ends, since all of the good things and all of the evils of this life are nothing in comparison to those of the other, and that the danger of falling into these evils is very great, as well as the difficulty of obtaining the good things.
Those that come to this conclusion, and who follow them in the conduct of their life, are prudent and wise, whether they be little correct in all of the reasonings concerning matters of science; and those who do not, whether they be correct in all of the rest…make a bad usage of Logic, of reason, and of life.
What about you? We do a lot in this life, and we think we’re “good people.” But what does it really amount to? Does it bring real happiness? Does it bring real goodness? Is there something really important that you’re aren’t doing? Will it make a difference in eternity? Or does it just add to your carbon footprint? The choice is yours.
I am indebted to Mark Swank, Youth Missions Coordinator for the Church of God, for inspiring and/or enraging me with the skit.