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Working With My Hands

Oil Change
Gotta lubricate the new filter's gasket

After preaching at three services on a Sunday morning, one would expect to find the preacher lying on his/her couch watching some mind-numbing television, not lying in the driveway maintaining his/her car. That’s where I was though Sunday afternoon even though the alarm went off at 5:00 a.m. and I had kept my energy up to deliver sermons at the 8:30, 9:45, and 11:00 a.m. worship gatherings. After lunch, I replaced the brakes on our car and then did oil changes on both the car and my motorcycle.

It had to be done. We were leaving for vacation on Tuesday and I knew Monday was going to be busy, so I had little choice. I was surprised though to find how relaxing and enjoyable it was under the car. I’m not sure what the explanation is, maybe I’m just wired that way, but I don’t think I could have done anything better to wind down than that.

I have two possible explanations to offer so far. First, so little of what I do in the rest of my life brings such direct results. When the brake job is finished, you put the tires back on. When the oil change is complete you can see the fresh, clean oil on the dipstick. That is not so in the rest of my life. So much of what I do seems to be part of an ongoing process that will take days, weeks, months, or even a lifetime before tangible results will be seen. So I find something satisfying in seeing the results of my labor right away.

Second, there is something about getting one’s hands dirty that puts us in touch with God. I have heard gardeners wax poetically about the earth, and the spiritual experience of becoming one with the soil. I have read of potters who talk about the creative process at the wheel shaping a lump of clay. I think the same can be said of opening a drain plug, or compressing a brake piston.

Our God is an active, creative God who has never been afraid to get “his hands dirty.” God formed human beings from the dust of the earth, and Jesus took some dirt and spit to make a compound and give sight to one who was blind. I don’t understand it, but it makes sense to me.

Oh, and I decided to download Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance to my Kindle to read on vacation. I’ll let you know if any further insights arise.

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