Brakes on Sin (Hebrews 5:1)

Every high priest is selected from among the people and is appointed to represent the people in matters related to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. (Hebrews 5:1)

There’s a dent in the side of my truck. Actually, it’s more of a bashed in right side. I did this damage myself on purpose as I side-swiped the basketball goal in the driveway. My other choice would have been to run into the house. With the brakes failing, I had limited options.

Like a fool, I’d loaned my truck to Josh. He called me to say that a brake line had broken, but–not to worry–he’d fixed it. Great. Here’s a piece of advice that I’ve learned from this experience. When you’re largely clueless as a mechanic, you don’t want to engage someone who is just slightly less clueless than you are to do the repair. Josh, as it turned out, not only installed that brake line backwards but didn’t bleed the brakes.

Every mechanic, even those brothers from Boston on NPR, have limits to their ability. No one can know everything there is about cars. I’d certainly prefer to have Jack from my favorite garage look at my car than Josh, but in the end, we all exist somewhere on the spectrum of cluelessness. That’s the nature of things when you select your mechanic, your doctor, your broker, or anything else from mere humans.

What if Jesus could fix your Ford? He’d get it right, don’t you think? Certainly, he showed himself worthy as a better physician than anybody in his day (or ours). Similarly, when Jesus takes your sins to the father, he does not do so in the limited nature of a human high priest. Jesus can make atonement like no one else. This is another of those things that we, living in a Christian environment, can easily forget.


Tempted in Every Way (Hebrews 4:15)

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. (Hebrews 4:15)

This morning, I had every intention of keeping my eye on the prize, on keeping God at the center of every waking thought. I did pretty well as I got out of bed and started my day. Then, as I drove my first load of water back home, I hit a pothole. The jarring of the hole put a two-foot crack in my water tank, which proceeded to dump 400 gallons of water along the marvelous roads of Lafayette County, Missouri. God had to take a back seat to my sudden water crisis.

As I drove to Independence to buy a new tank and then drove back, trying to salvage enough time so that I could haul a load before I had to take Tom to his voice lesson. Apparently, an unannounced “Wide Load” and slow vehicle parade had been scheduled for this morning on I-70. My frustration grew and God was shoved to the trunk.

Perhaps you’re thinking that being tempted to neglect God for a few hours is hardly a big deal. I wasn’t tempted to go on a homicidal rampage, shoot up with heroin, or abandon my family. But as I think it over, if I can succumb to the temptation to thrust God out of my attention, I can probably be successfully tempted in any direction.

It’s good to know that Jesus didn’t waltz through life, living an unreal life in which the temptations weren’t genuine. He dealt with annoying people and the first century equivalent of huge trucks driving far too slow on the Interstate. He dealt with them and still did not sin. That would be depressing if I had to live up to his standard. Happily, he did it for me.

Such a Testimony (Hebrews 2:4)

God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will. (Hebrews 2:4)

Today, I got home from hauling my fourth load of water for the day. All the way on that last trip, I’d been hearing odd sounds, sounds that worried me and made me wonder if my 1996 Dodge Ram was about to give up on me. Returning to the hill, I hooked onto the hose and started the water flowing to the cistern. At that point, I glanced back to the truck and thought fondly of it. Then I noticed something rather alarming.

My front left wheel was missing three lugnuts. The remaining five looked as if they were holding on with their last turn of threading. In short, my wheel had nearly fallen off as I drove through Oak Grove with 3,500 pounds of water in the bed. Immediately I realized that somebody–me, of course–had neglected to tighten the lugs after mounting the spare last week.

I mention this today because my wheel did not fall off. I mention it because I’m convinced that my loving God protected me from my own stupidity and carelessness. Yes, I’ll have to fuss with replacing the bolts, which had their threads nearly chewed off, but that’s immensely preferable to grinding to a halt on Broadway as my wheel rolls off to its own private destiny.

Every day, God testifies to that great salvation we have through Jesus Christ by little acts of grace punctuated by occasional big acts of grace. I’m convinced that we never know exactly how many things God arranges in our lives to shield us from harm and steer us toward blessings. While we might grumble that God doesn’t shower us with hundred-dollar bills, He does many things, some of which utterly escape our attention.

My skeptical friends would simply dismiss my precarious truck wheel as good luck. Had I driven another five miles, they’ll suggest, I’d have come to a rough stop. Perhaps, but my God knew where I lived. He knew how much vibration those lugs could endure. He knew me–and more to the point loves me.