The Summer of My Vagrancy

Sometimes I feel bad for the month of August, because no one really likes it. It’s the runt of the summer months that people forget to enjoy. By August, the allure and appeal of summer is gone. The heat is oppressive, kids are back to school and everyone is ready for fall. August doesn’t get the moment in the sun that it should enjoy—after all, it’s still summer, and summer equals freedom.

This is what I pondered while wandering the streets of downtown Salt Lake on my lunch breaks. The reason for my wanderings: my car was busted. It broke down a couple days before August began and wouldn’t be fixed until a couple of days after August ended. In lieu of my own private transportation, I’ve become a proud user of Salt Lake’s (limited) public transportation system, as well as a lot of my friends’ cars. Which frankly, is weird.

It seems as if there is no more absolute status symbol in American culture than one’s car. If you don’t believe me, try driving a 1985 minivan complete with smoking engine, a silver 2004 Xterra and an open-topped Jeep Wrangler all in one week, then take note of the variety looks you receive from pedestrians. A car represents success and stability, and a lack of car seems to represent failure and dependency.

My car conundrum was actually part deux of the summer of my vagrancy; for most of June and July, I was homeless. Well, that’s really for dramatic effect. I wasn’t in-a-shelter homeless; it was more like couch-surfing, no-permanent-address homeless. Like any rational person, this was not my first choice for summer living circumstances, but I made do with what God gave me.

My car became my second home, and at any given time I would have outfits for any occasion, library books, camping gear, luggage, even dry goods. Which is why it was such a kick in the pants when my car broke down. Although I had moved into a new house, where I hope to live for a very long time, my car was still a safety net for me.

I thought I learned a lot from God when I was homeless. In fact, that’s what I prayed walking to the Trax station when I realized my car would be taking a sabbatical at Dave’s Alpine Auto.

I learned enough about depending on You and You alone in the last few months, and I learned that material possessions are worthless, and mostly a burden, and I learned that my home is in Your love and in Your grace. I’m not angry about the last couple months. They actually turned out to be one of the best times of my life, because I was in such close communion with You. Why can’t things just be normal for a little while before the next crisis?

I still haven’t figured out exactly why God decided to give me two such inconvenient circumstances back to back, but that really doesn’t matter much. I could lament about how hard life was when I didn’t have a home or without a car. But the fact of matter is that it wasn’t hard, just inconvenient.

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And it was inconvenient because of my own pride. I didn’t want to ask my friends if I could stay with them for an extended period of time. I didn’t want to find a car to borrow. I wanted to be self-sufficient. Maybe that’s the problem.

If I’m genuinely dependent on God, I trust that He will take care of me and meet my needs according to all of His glorious riches in Christ Jesus—which is a nice, feel-good sort of verse that a lot of people share with you when you’re in need. Not once during that summer did any gold doubloons fall from the sky, even when I was in the most desperate of situations. But, I was never alone. There was always a friend by my side to step up and give me a ride to the train station or loan me a car, or even give me a bed to sleep in.

Throughout that summer, I did become deeply dependent on God. My life has never been the same since. For me, dependence on God also means trusting His kids—those who He calls His treasure and more precious than even gold or silver—to help me out, to sometimes even carry me through this life.

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