Yesterday, I was out running errands with my family, enjoying my day off, when our vehicle started to make an unpleasant noise. I knew immediately what it was – the brake pads in the front had worn so low that they were grinding on the rotors. At first I thought, “I’ll have to find time to take care of that this weekend." But over the next few minutes, the grinding became so bad that we decided to immediately head for home.
I knew what I would be doing for the rest of the afternoon.
Those of you who know me well most likely would not peg me for a grease monkey, and you’d be right. I only know how to do two maintenance tasks on my vehicles – fill them with gas and change the brake pads. The former I taught myself; the latter I learned from my father-in-law.
It was about 3:30 when we got home and I immediately changed my clothes to get to work on the truck. There was a trip across town to borrow the tools that could be borrowed, and later multiple trips to buy brake pads and new tools to replace the borrowed tools that turned out to be wrong for the job. In the end, it only took me five hours to do a task that a normal man could have done in one.
At more than one point in the process, even as I prayed for patience and help from the Lord, I realized what a pickle I would be in if not for Greg Ryerson, the father of the woman I married. He and I have done the brakes on my vehicles numerous times. The first time, he did the work, explaining what he was doing, and I watched. The next couple of times, he had me help him, again explaining what we were doing. Later, he let me do the work while he watched, helping me only as necessary. Yesterday was the first time I had ever done it all by myself without him around. I guess I should say almost not around. When he heard about what I was doing, he came over just in time to watch me finish up.
When I was done, he commented that he needed to call his brother-in-law, the one who taught him to do a brake job decades ago, and tell him that the torch had been passed yet again. Paraphrasing 2 Tim 2:2, he said, “What you have learned from me entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” I laughed and we went inside.
Later, it occurred to me that even though he was joking about 2 Tim 2:2, he has entrusted to me far more than how to change brake pads. While I definitely have not mastered any of the virtues and truths he has modeled for me, I am a better father, husband, pastor, and friend for having known him.
The Lord has blessed me greatly by placing a few men in my life who have mentored me and showed me what it means to be a Christian man. My dad, my maternal grandfather, and my father-in-law all stand as my fathers in the faith. Any work that I do of any eternal value shows their fingerprints next to mine. I thank God for them.
Who are the people in your life who served as the Lord’s tools in making you who you are? Who mentored you in the faith? Who walked before you and showed you the way? I encourage you to take a few minutes today and thank the Lord for their influence on you and to ask for His blessing on them. They might be encouraged to hear from you as well.
In whose lives are you building? Are there people who would say of you that God used you to shape them and teach them? If you have children, they are the obvious candidates, but there may be others in your life to whom you could be a lifelong blessing. This kind of thing doesn’t just happen – you have to be intentional.
I'm thankful this morning that a troublesome brake job reminded how blessed I am and that I should be a blessing to others. May we all be just another link in the chain, passing along not only the practical tricks of life – like doing a brake job – but more importantly, the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.