I was driving down the same familiar country road I always take to town, the one that winds past a cow pasture, a Civil War battlefield and the Harpeth River. There has been an old red Jaguar convertible parked by the side of the road for weeks with a “For Sale” sign in the window. My 15-year-old daughter “ooohs”, and “aaahhs” over it but I won’t stop to look in the window or take it for a test drive. I am too afraid of what lies beneath the hood.
There have been a couple of days the car was missing and my daughter feared it sold but then it would reappear. This morning though, it was sitting in silent vigil next to the cows, the geese, the ever present flock of turkeys…
But the Jaguar had an unexpected visitor as well.
There he was, an African American man somewhere close to 60-years-old. He was wearing a plaid work shirt, a pair of well-worn jeans, and a cap. He had pulled his pickup into the driveway near the Jaguar. The truck’s bed held a wheelbarrow, a shovel and other tools for manual labor. He, his truck, and the moment appeared perfectly ordinary on the surface but then I drew alongside him and I saw his expression.
The man walked slowly toward the Jaguar as if approaching a dream. He held his work calloused hands folded in front of his chest in eager anticipation. His face was radiant with delight.
“That is exactly how he looked when he was surprised with something wonderful when he was a child,” I thought.
I smiled, glanced in the rearview mirror to watch him approach his dream car and prayed God would grant him the desire of his heart.
I don’t know this man and I doubt I will ever see him again but I can tell you a few things about him from the brief moment of his life I was privileged to witness.
First of all, he is still doing manual labor at an age when it is not the easiest thing to do in the world so he probably has never known what it was like to live a life a privilege. Secondly, as an African American male of a certain age in the south he has most certainly known what it means to feel the brutal brand of racism burned into his soul time and time again.
And yet, he still hopes. He still dreams. He still delights in what might be in beautiful defiance of all that has been.
I don’t know that God will grant him his wish in the Jaguar. The Almighty knows best, even about our most cherished hopes. He may say “no” to his man’s dream car to spare him the heartache of a Jaguar engine.
But I do know Jesus was smiling with me at his child’s sweet delight and irrepressible hope.