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08 November 2013

Doris and the art of Toyota maintenance

Doris and the art of Toyota maintenance

Let me introduce you to Doris. Doris is a silver Toyota Aygo. She's not very well at the moment. Her catalytic converter is on the blink and a few of her lights have decided not to work, the instrument panel's not lighting up, nor is the license plate light or the main rear lights. The latter is the most pertinent to today's short tale.

With only a single fog light on at the back Doris and her owner were pulled over by the police. And owing to various complications and confusion around international licenses and UK residency it ended up seized and impounded.

I found myself outside a car pound in South East London last night as the supervising driver for Doris' owner, who despite 13 years experience was now only able to drive on a provisional license somewhat fortuitously arranged earlier in the year. It was like entering prison, one set of police officers scrutinising papers, and then onto another lot, and into an entrance cage awaiting admittance where papers were again considered, scanned, taken on record, money handed over and eventually car released with L plates now attached.

It is also why I lay last night with my feet dangling out of the car onto the pavement and my head under the steering column, with my friend Googling advice as we tried to work out how to change a fuse in the car.

Doris' owner was a little stressed yesterday and anxious about how things would work out. It's not nice having to walk away from your car as the police tow it away, I would have been stressed if it was me, I think most of us would be.

Stress comes in many shapes and sizes. For me it is usually provoked by the relentless incremental red numbers at the corner of icons on my phone and the buzz on the desk as it signals to me there is something else to do or to respond to. A former colleague told me this week that in her new career she gets an email every four days. The bliss.

Wednesday was National Stress Awareness Day. Stress is the cause of 5 million workers in the UK taking days off work, it affects almost half of us and a quarter consider ourselves at times close to breaking point. Many of us worry about job security, redundancy, money worries and pressure of work. It's not good for business and it's not good for our health.

I could neatly segue into an urge to cast your worries onto Him because He cares for you. It's biblical after all. But sometimes that sounds rather like 'buck your ideas up, sonny'. It's as though Christians shouldn't suffer stress because we have a saviour who suffered for us. As though if only we believe then everything will be all right.

In one vital sense it will be. The Lamb wins. We have assurance in a God who was also man, and a king who became a servant. Who hung on a tree and tore a curtain in two. Who defeated sin and put suffering on notice that it will one day be gone for good.

Yet we are still living out the notice period. We still see pain around us, we feel the wounds of sickness and we suffer stress at things that are rational and those that are not. Sometimes I try and work harder to relieve the pressure of work.

God isn't a recycling bin where we drop in our worries and walk on by. He is the one who walks with us. He carries our worries for us. When Jesus teaches us not to worry it is not a command to ignore our difficulties but to recognise in whom we trust, and what we seek first. We can talk to God and he hears us, we can lean on those around us, our friends and our family, we do not always have to pretend that it's all okay.

We know that as we experience pain, as we encounter anxiety, God is there. And our security is not in a receptor of the things we don't want, but a friend who never lets go.

Danny Webster is Parliamentary Officer for the Evangelical Alliance