Yesterday my car started over-heating on the highway. I was with a good friend of mine and we quickly pulled over at the nearest exit and prayed for a place to stop. God led us to a Valvoline where I found out that my car had to be towed. Little did I know God was ready to teach me about community from a most unlikely source.
He was a scruffy, cigarette-smoking, 48 year-old country boy with a deep Kentucky drawal. As we got into his tow truck, we started asking him questions. It wasn't long before he told us about how he was a member of the "Vannin Club." Yep, you heard it right. The Vannin Club. We told him we had never heard of such a thing. And he was more than excited to tell us all about it. In fact, he gave me the offical Vannin' website and here's what it says:
For those of you new to vanning, or who have somehow stumbled across us, vanning is a culture unlike anything else you may have ever dealt with. Vanners are like a big family, they will travel for hours, even days to see each other on a regular basis. They watch out for each other, they celebrate together, and sometimes... they mourn together. Vanners are a diverse bunch brought together by their common love for the sport of vanning. Some people like to just camp out of their vans, while other prefer to make their van into something more them. Sometimes that is just curtains and a bed, for others its something they put their all into, chopping, gull wings, tubbing,..It's amazing what you can do with a van. Whatever level of vanning you may enjoy, you do it because you want to. Vanning is also a very social event, we do some wild and crazy things, and consume more than our fair share of alcohol.
There you have it. Vanners are "like a big family ... they watch out for each other, celebrate together, and sometimes even mourn together... a diverse group brought together by their common love for the sport of vanning." Wow. Makes you want to be a vanner! So as we thumped along in the front of his tow truck, this guy kept jabbering about his Vannin' Club and the community he experienced there. He rambled on and on about how much he loved it. We just sat and listened.
Finally it was time to get out. We shook his greasy hand, told him thanks, and said good-bye. But he wasn't done. He actually turned to us, looked at us in the eye, and asked us to come to his next "Vanning Club" get-together. We laughed out loud ... but he was totally serious. And as he rode off, I turned to my friend and said, "Weird. He just invited us to his church, didn't he?!"
You see, for this 48 year-old, buck-toothed, cigarette-smoking Kentucky hick, vannin club is where he's found community. He couldn't help but talk about it, and in the end, invite us to be a part of it.
Everyone is looking for community. Some find it in the strangest of places. But I learned something from this simple tow truck driver. He found community and was eager to talk about it and invite others into it. Am I? After all, I'm part of a community too. A community centered on something that will last forever. A community centered on a Savior who bled and died on my behalf. All other kinds of community are only faint pictures of the real thing our hearts were made for.
And to think God used a tow truck driver to teach me all of that.