This weekend our church holds its Annual Summit Connection Day. The highlight of the day is the car show where loads of local hotrod aficionados bring their hobbies and enjoy a day of swapping car stories and restoration tricks.
Last year’s car show carries with it a new legend … the story of the Yellow Corvette Pickup.
I actually knew nothing about it until about 2 weeks before the car show. The head of men’s ministries at The Summit asked me if I could divert my husband’s attention while they snuck a truck into the car show, which had a long, fascinating history, and an amazing new life about to be born.
Turns out this truck, born in 1961 was driven off the showroom floor by none other than my husband (at age 14) after his father bought it brand new. It was an ugly dusty rose color so they named her Rosebud. It was used for years with his dad’s plumbing business and then turned over to Ross and his family in 1975. It was a Holtz family staple for years until the need for a new washing machine outweighed its usefulness and he sold it to Randy Martin for $500 with the express understanding that, should Randy ever get rid of it, Ross would be given first dibs.
About a year before Ross and I married, he was hanging out with some guys after Trout Bums (our annual men’s ministries event) and Randy mentioned he was moving. As the story goes, when Ross asked him what happened to the truck, Randy shrugged his shoulders. “I gave it away.”
Ross felt the weight of discouragement in the pit of his stomach, even though he didn’t have the extra $500 to buy it back from Randy anyway. There were many memories that made up the life of that truck, and Ross just simply had to let it go.
What he didn’t know was that Randy’s statement, while true, was not the whole story. He’d actually asked Jay, the men’s ministry leader, if the men would be open to putting the truck back together, restoring it, and then presenting it to Ross.
Without seeing the truck’s condition, Jay accepted the challenge and rallied the guys to bring the truck back to life for the pastor they all honored and loved.
And then, they picked up the truck…
Rusted and worn, and in pieces.
They wondered what in the world they’d gotten themselves into, but committed their guys to spend the next year and a half working tirelessly to do a frame up restoration AND keep it a secret.
And that they did.
Every Thursday night for eighteen months a group of guys worked diligently to create a token of their appreciation for their shepherd. They had special signals to make sure if he came by on a Thursday night they’d cover up all the evidence. It was called “A Ross Alert” and they had it rehearsed to a “T.”
One night, Ross’s firstborn, Bret, came over to have a cigar with his dad, specifically to find out Ross’s favorite color of yellow. The one he always talked about when he mentioned from the pulpit his favorite yellow convertible corvette. As Bret ventured into the highly secretive territory, and absconded with the year and model of corvette that had the winning color, he couldn’t believe his dad wasn’t starting to connect the dots and figure out what the guys were up to.
He didn’t have a clue.
In fact, on the big day, after I attempted to distract Ross and keep him out of the area when they brought in the pickup on a flatbed truck, it was finally time to walk around the field and determine which vehicle would be voted “Pastor’s Choice.”
As we walked, hand in hand, down the fairway, the yellow pickup came into view. As he saw the hood up and the chrome bumper gleam in the sunshine, he exclaimed “Hey, look at that … that’s a ’61 Chevy and I had one like that….and look at the color— it’s just perfect!”
I nodded my head,
Keeping my best poker face in play.
As he got closer, he began to realize that was his old truck, and then he saw Randy.
“I can’t believe it, you restored my old truck!”
“Yep, it’s yours!”
“I know it’s my old truck, I just cannot believe you restored it! It’s beautiful!”
“Yes, Ross… it’s YOURS!”
“I know it was my truck… but look at what you did!”
Even seeing the entry form on the dashboard with ROSS HOLTZ on it, he still didn’t get it.
Randy had to spell it out.
“This is YOUR TRUCK. We restored it FOR YOU. Even put a corvette engine in! I gave it to the guys, and they did all the work.”
“And we entered it into the car show IN YOUR NAME!”
It still took a few more times through before Ross understood the significance of what the guys had done.
He climbed into the cab and sat behind the wheel thinking about all the miles his dad had put on that truck, and all the memories he’d made with his kids in that cab.
Ross was literally overcome with emotion.
The men of The Summit sacrificed long hours, money, and vacation time to finish this labor of love in time for the car show… to make a huge display of their love for their pastor.
Now mind you, this project had been in motion for a year and a half. Long before I’d come into the picture, and not too long before Ross’s late wife, Cathy, was diagnosed with cancer.
The amazing thing to me is God’s timing.
Since we’d announced our intent to marry earlier in the year, there was quite an emotional upheaval and some men whom Ross considered to be good friends had chosen to walk away to make a statement of their dissatisfaction in his decision to remarry. It was impossible for Ross not to take it personally.
How sweet for the Lord, in the midst of the exodus of those who were offended for one reason or another, to encourage him with this gift from the men of The Summit.
The shiny glove box donned these words inscribed on its face:
To Our Beloved Pastor With Whom We Are Well Pleased.
Who does that?
Who puts that many hours and that much effort into a gift with that much sentimental value?
Only God could orchestrate that, to make a point.
My husband is loved and appreciated by so many at The Summit.
And that was right when he needed to feel that encouragement.
That is one faithful God, if you ask me!