Thought For Today

I am so glad that you have found this site and I hope you will find encouragement and joy as you read through my thoughts on God, family and life.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Bolt

Autumn Splendor

Today the weather was very nice for being outside.  I assisted my father in law in moving heavy items that required two of us to move.  He on the other hand was able to help me move an exercise machine to the church basement.  I have always wondered if one received as much exercise in moving these machines around as one gets from the actual workout on these devices. 

House snuggled into the Autumn bluffs.
Last Sunday I was working on one of our cars.  I was installing an alternator in the Honda Accord that we have.  The word frustration did not come close to describe what I felt when trying to put in the new alternator.  Getting to the bolts that removed it was very trying to say the least.  Just when I thought I had all the bolts out, I discovered that I had found yet another set of bolts that needed to be removed.  Those of you that have worked on cars know that some parts are placed in very difficult locations to get at.  This was one of those places!  I stopped at one point and looked at my skinned knuckles and hands and wondered what I was doing trying to be a mechanic.  On top of skinned hands, when I thought I had the alternator removed, I noticed that I was missing a vital bolt.  After looking for it for several hours, I became more than perplexed with my situation and myself.  My in laws were just arriving at that time to eat with us for supper, and John, my father in law noticed my frustration and volunteered to help me find the missing bolt.  It was to no avail that neither of us could find it.  I used magnets, two different sized mirrors, screwdrivers, two types and sizes of flashlights, a trouble light, a flexible claw clamp and many comments to myself in how I was not as wise as I thought I was.

Bluffs North of La Cresent, Minnesota
In the evening I resigned myself to letting the job go until the next morning.  Upon waking the next day, I went outside and began exploring the engine compartment once again.  I checked under every component and electrical gadget possible.  I looked into my operating manual as well.  Next, I checked into my manual for repairing the various parts of the car, thinking there was something that I was missing in discovering an unknown area of the car where my bolt could have gone.  I had learned more about my engine than I had ever wanted to know.  Needless to say, I became desperate.  This drove me to an automotive parts store looking for a replacement for my lost bolt.  If Rome would not come to me, I would go to Rome.  As I drove to the parts store, I got a little depressed in thinking how foolish I was in not getting a replacement bolt sooner.  I had wasted over 6 hours looking for this “stupid” bolt.  Sometimes I find some semblance of feeling better about myself when I can put some human characteristics to inanimate objects.  Then it becomes less my fault and more the cars; or looking at it another way, that car is just out to get me!  After belittling the car and its child, the bolt, I found that there was little satisfaction in trying to make the bolt feel guilty for hiding itself from me. 

Bluffs seen from our deck.
When walking into the parts store I was starting to feel more in control.  I found myself feeling rather smug in finally realizing that this was going to be easy, all I had to do was to get the bolt, head home and install the alternator.  I described the bolt to the parts man and he said that he did not have the exact bolt that I needed, but he could get one that was close.  About that time I became desperate again, in resignation I told him that would be fine.  After getting two sizes of replacement bolts (one was sure to work) I drove home to my enemy the car with my weapons on my final assault.  I was again regaining my confidence that this battle was once again, mine!

After approaching the car once more, I felt more confident than I had been for the last two days.  “This was going to work, I can beat this car, and it was not going to win!”  After dropping the first bolt into the alternator with much labor and added patience, I was ready for the second (substitute) bolt.  I had to use a flexible claw clamp to seat the bolt while at the same time using a mirror to slide it into place.  “This is going to work!”  I stopped, calmed my breathing, and slowly slid the bolt into place.  I was euphoric at this point.  Then all of sudden I realized that it would not work when attempting the next step.  The belt that I ordered online from a parts store was two inches to short.  What else could go wrong????  I next took the alternator out, again and proceeded to get even better acquainted with my friendly parts store.  In retrospect, the parts man whose name is Michael was very kind and patient with me.  He got the right belt and I was off again with the attitude that this was it; I was going to conquer this job and win finally.  I proceeded to put the alternator in again and when it was in place, I noticed that the replacement bolt that I got, would not work after all.  The locking head of the original bolt was designed for movement on a slide that allowed the alternator to tighten and loosen.  My new bolt did not have this locking head!  At that point I was beside myself.  (An interesting place to be, looking at an impatient man standing there about to bury his head in the fan compartment, and refusing to come out until someone smarter than he would come to his rescue.)

Abby and Will playing on their favorite tree, the Sumac.
At that point it dawned on me that I was not alone, God was standing beside me and wanted to help, that is if I would let him.  I started to pray in desperation, “Please God help me, please?”  Then I felt his gentle voice in my thoughts, “You do not have to beg for help my son.  I will gladly assist you if you first believe that I can!”  I then sat down and thought it through.  I was begging God to help me without believing he could.  It was if I were throwing dice up in air and wanting them to roll a lucky 7 in order to get the help I needed.  I then asked God to forgive me for not believing that he could or even wanted to help me, and for not seeking his help from the start.   I then knelt down and said, “Dear Lord, I believe you can help me to find this bolt.  I have tried everything without you and I have failed, now I come before you knowing that you want to help me, thank you!”

Large estate on Cass St. in LaCrosse, WI.
I then stood up and I looked down on the engine, and before me was the hidden bolt laying between two components on the engine block.  I had been through the whole area with magnets, mirrors and clamps to no avail, and now it lay before my eyes in easy reach of my hands.  This moment almost brought me to tears of joy and feeling ashamed at the same time.  At that moment I felt God’s presence.  I then listened to him through his Holy Spirit speaking to me.  “I wanted to help you from the beginning, for you see nothing is too small for me in desiring to help you.”  What came to mind next was the scripture verse (Matt: 10:29-30) where Jesus speaks about the most insignificant bird, the sparrow.  He says that even the sparrow does not fall without his notice?  My heart felt complete with joy and peace at that moment.  God was teaching me that I was also to depend on him and not just my own skills in everyday events.  He let me struggle until I came to the end of myself, so that I could finally see him, and through this, know him better. 

I have the tendency to look at the magnificence of great things around me.
Abby and Will brought this to my attention on our hike, a beautiful flower
from the wild clover in the forest.  It was at our feet.  I would not have seen
it because I was looking at the splendor of the great trees in our midst.
God uses children to teach us about the wonder of small things.
God wants to be in our lives each day.  He wants to be in even the small things that we do and say throughout the hours of the day.  I remember a man who went by the name of Brother Andrew, he smuggled Bibles into the Soviet Union and China.  If one was caught, it would mean imprisonment since communist countries do believe in God.  As Brother Andrew was passing through the guard posts one day heading into the Soviet Union, he prayed, “God you made blind eyes see, now make seeing eyes blind.”  He was praying this so that the guards would not see his Bibles in the box in the trunk of his car.  The guard looked right at the Bibles and did not see them; he waived Brother Andrew to go on ahead into the Soviet Union without delay.  

God made my eyes blind to this simple bolt, until I had learned the lesson that he wanted to teach me, and that was to trust in him, even in the small things. `