My father drove an old beat-up truck that he affectionately referred to as Ol’ Red Eye. I never quite understood his attachment to, what appeared to be nothing more than a rickety heap of nuts and bolts; faded red with chipped paint, cracked glass, and an old torn up seat. However, some of the best childhood memories I have are of the tender moments I spent anxiously waiting by the window for that old battered truck to announce dad’s arrival as it bounced its way down the weathered driveway.
I can recall the countless hours dad spent over the years, meticulously washing that old truck. I scarcely saw the point, considering it never looked any better when he had finished than when he began. In fact, the dirt helped cover up some of the “ugly”. Dad, however, with all of his wisdom saw something I did not...
Every year it was that old truck that escorted our family into the Rocky Mountains of Montana to find a Christmas tree and, ironically, it was Christmas when dad finally revealed the mystery behind his adoration for the old truck. He shared the story of the night Ol’ Red Eye went “Truckin’ With Santa”. As I recall, the story went something like this…
Once upon a time, many years ago…
Old Red Eye sat for sale on a used car lot. His paint, once a brilliant red, had been bleached and faded in the sun. His smooth sleek frame had been chipped and dented from years of hard work and his windshield, once crystal clear, was now enveloped by random cracks.
Day in and day out, Red Eye sat on the lot with an advertisement scribbled across his windshield that read, $1,000. The old truck watched through cracked headlights as newer, more modern cars and trucks were bought and sold from the lot. Months past, winter turned into spring and the lot owner, sick of seeing the old truck, erased a zero from the price on the glass… $100.
Summer welcomed quite a crowd of customers but none of them were interested in Red Eye. In fact, few of them even noticed the little truck. The days rolled by, summer turned into fall, and Red Eye remained. Anxious to make a sale, the lot owner erased another zero from the advertised price on the windshield. Surely, someone would buy the old truck for a mere $10… but nobody did.
The leaves fell to the ground, the days grew colder, and the arrival of winter was welcomed by snowfall. Red Eye began to feel very bad. There he sat, unnoticed and unwanted for a scrappy $10 while other, nicer looking cars and trucks found new homes for Christmas. Disgusted, the lot owner wiped the $10 price from the glass and wrote in bold letters…
IF YOU WANT THIS TRUCK…TAKE IT!!!
Embarrassed and humiliated, Red Eye remained on the lot for free while other cars and trucks sold for thousands of dollars. He reminisced about a time in his life when he, too, was valued by others. Heartbroken and disappointed, Red Eye longed for those days. Time passed and before long he was moved to a new spot near the back of the lot next to an old dumpster. Things seemed hopeless to Red Eye until one day in December…
A group of carolers strolled by on the street and the little truck grew excited. He realized it was Christmas Eve! He couldn’t help but remember all the times he had brought home Christmas trees and hauled carolers around town, spreading the Christmas spirit in celebration of the season. Red Eye gazed at the warm glow of the Christmas lights across the street and sweet memories of past holidays filled his cab as he drifted off to sleep.
Suddenly, there was a screech and a clatter! Red Eye, startled awake by the commotion, lit his headlights to the most unbelievable sight! There, heaped in the dumpster, were twelve reindeer and buried in the side was a severely damaged sleigh. Several wrapped presents, balls, dolls, and other toys were scattered about in the snow.
It couldn’t be! Red Eye attempted to focus through the frost on his headlights. It was! Santa had missed the roof of a nearby house and crashed, right into the dumpster at his side! The little truck watched in amazement as four elves and Santa Claus, himself, climbed from the wreckage. Red Eye observed Santa and his crew as they stared in awe, shocked by the demolished remains of the sleigh.
“Well, thank goodness for airbags!” said one of the elves.
“Seatbelts too!” said another.
“At least it’s already in the trash!” said a third in jest… but nobody laughed.
Santa stood nearby, stroking his beard in thought. It was apparent that the sleigh would not be operational. Realizing the severity of the situation, everyone stood somberly, searching for a solution. Suddenly, one of the elves noticed Red Eye and read aloud the words carelessly scribbled across his windshield, “IF YOU WANT THIS TRUCK… TAKE IT!!!”
All the attention shifted to Red Eye and the solution seemed obvious. “We want him! Right Santa?” queried one of the elves.
“Indeed we do!” replied Santa.
Red Eye straightened himself up the best he could and shook the snow from his cab. The elves hurried about, gathering the scattered presents, and the little truck smiled with pride as they were loaded in his bed. The elves hooked up the reindeer and, at last, they were ready for take-off. Finally, Santa and his crew piled into the cab and away they went!
The little truck, once again, experienced the joy of the holidays as he worked through the night, making deliveries to boys and girls around the world. Tears of joy drained from his headlights and turned to icicles in the cold. At last, Red Eye was happy.
So, legend has it… he saved Christmas for thousands of children and Santa saved Red Eye by giving him to dad, a man with a passion for old trucks. And together… they lived happily ever after.
As I reflect on my childhood and the story my father told about that old truck, the “moral” is evident. I thank God for blessing my life with a father who thought to utilize a unique opportunity to teach such a profound Christ-like principle. All parents teach their children how to walk, talk, and tie their shoes. Words cannot express how grateful I am that I was blessed with a father who taught me how to see... Red Eye was a Dodge classic. When dad looked at the old battered truck, he saw the possibilities.
Looking back now, I realize that there have been many times throughout my life when my father viewed me, much as he did Ol’ Red Eye. He valued me, not for what I was at the moment, but for what he knew I had the potential to become. He never focused on my “chips, cracks, or dents”. He willingly overlooked all of the faults, shortcomings, mistakes, and weaknesses that seemed so evident, and encouraged me to cultivate the passion, strength, God-given talents and unique abilities within. He taught me to embrace my divine nature.
I have often wondered how I could fail to "see" Cammie for ten years. Why - when I looked at her - did I only see the cracks in the glass, random dents, faded and chipped paint? Why did I focus on her "flaws" for so long? For ten years, what I saw was based exclusively on what I expected to see... There was something terribly wrong with her. She wasn't like the rest of my boys. She was weird, she didn't behave according to my expectations, she wasn't a "normal" boy... she wasn't a boy at all. How could I have failed to see it? How could I have possibly missed the "moonwalking bear"? How could I have failed to see something that was so obvious from the very beginning?
I am finally starting to understand the answer that I received as I humbled myself in prayer during the "awakening" of our journey. The answer was simple but profound; the impression was clear... "Love this child, even as I have loved you."
The Lord recognizes the potential in each of us. Since we all have imperfections... and each of us will require perfect redemption, he has agreed to assist in our "restoration"... he has promised to make us whole through his unconditional love, grace, and the gift of the atonement. As we come to know and accept Him as our redeemer, our complete restoration will begin to take place.
Psalm 18: 1 – 3
1. I will love thee, O Lord, my strength.
2. The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.
3. I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies.
I have come to realize, what we see is often limited by what we are looking for. This is exemplified in my personal life by failing to recognize the beauty of Ol' Red Eye, and demonstrated through an inability to notice the moonwalking bear...
Sometimes our expectations can distract us from the truth. Cammie has always been there... the same child that she is today. However, one fundamental thing HAS changed, I am finally aware that she exists. I have finally learned to appreciate her for WHO she is... and this has made all the difference. "Love this child, even as I have loved you". Quite simply...
"Look with your eyes... SEE with your HEART."