Teach a man to wrench and he will fix his own stuff
By Timothy J. Berg
My daughter’s 1994 Pontiac Sunbird, nicknamed Bertha, died.
The oil had leaked out, causing a connecting rod to exit the left side of the
engine block. I bought the car back from my daughter and helped her find
another car. I installed a good used motor in Bertha and put her up for sale.
That’s when Chris called.
At 17, Chris couldn’t get a loan from a bank, but he wanted
to make payments. Since he and my daughter were friends, I wrote up a short
contract. Chris gave $500 as a down payment, and then he drove Bertha to a
local garage to get it inspected.
He called the next day and informed me it would cost $1,200
to get the rear main seal replaced. The car was leaking oil as fast as he could
pour it in. I told him to just bring the car to my house and I’d give him back
his $500. Instead of taking my offer, Chris pleaded with me to fix the car. I
was reluctant at first, but after giving it some thought, I told him that if he
helped me fix the car I would repair it.
Chris and I met the following evening. Six hours later we
had the transmission out of the car. I taught Chris how to do most of the work.
As we worked, we talked.
I asked Chris about his job, his mom and dad, his siblings
and his life in general. It was a conversation built on everyday stuff we all
have going on but rarely tell someone else about — especially when life
isn’t going the way we’d like for it to go. Chris eventually told me he was
living with a girl and they were going to get married.
While he talked, I listened. I began to talk with him about
what God’s Word had to say about premarital sexual relationships. I never
accused him of living in sin, but I explained how God gave us the Bible as an
owner’s manual for life. If we followed the guidelines found in the Bible, I
explained, we had an excellent chance of living a life full of God’s blessings.
I drew an analogy between the Ten Commandments and the work
we were doing.
“God wanted to tell us how to live a life that was free of
avoidable heartaches,” I said. “One rule about cars says, ‘If you let all the
oil drain from an engine, it will stop running.’ When the pistons seize up,
that’s a matter of consequence, not punishment.”
Because Chris excelled at helping me, I bought him a set of
tools. The $65 investment would be worth it if he could work on his car
himself. Teach a man to wrench and he can fix his own stuff, I thought.
We laughed a lot during those two nights. As we finished
putting the car back together, I could see Chris was so proud of himself.
Over the next six weeks Chris called me three times because
something else went wrong with the car. Each time he needed a little less help
than the time before. On the last call, he told me he’d already unbolted the
bad part and just needed me to help him get a replacement. He’d learned how to
wrench for himself.
Six weeks later I was in my garage, when Chris walked up the
drive. After we exchanged a bear hug, he began sobbing uncontrollably. I
thought for sure someone had died, as he could barely choke out his words. He
had accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior.
“I just kept thinking about all the stuff you taught me, and
I had to make a change,” he said. “I told my girlfriend to move back in with
her folks and that we needed to do things right if we wanted to have a marriage
that would be blessed by God.”
While we worked on the car I had no outline or set of key
Scriptures ready for such a moment. I was just trying to love my neighbor as
myself. Evidently, that was all he really needed. Thanks, Bertha.
TIMOTHY J. BERG owns and operates CrankShaft Motor Car Club,
LLC in Nixa, Mo. and attends James River Assembly of God in Ozark, Mo.
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