Monday, July 18, 2016

Be a lug nut in a dark world

It was nearly midnight when the phone rang. It startled us both out of a peaceful sleep. Any time the phone rings at that hour, a bit of panic creeps up and forms a lump in my throat. It’s amazing how many what-if thoughts can go through your mind in the short amount of time it takes to fumble around in the dark to find the phone and hit the right button to answer it.

Thankfully, this time it wasn’t any kind of emergency. The caller probably didn’t have any idea what time it was. He just needed to talk to my husband. The caller didn’t say anything that Scott hadn’t heard before. This same conversation happens about once a week. This was just the first time we’d been woken up from a deep sleep for it.

A few nights ago we heard a knock on our front door followed by the doorbell ringing. It was about 10:30 PM. We had not gone to bed yet, but I already had on my pajamas. Scott was still dressed. We looked at each other for a minute, then he went to the door and opened it. It had happened before, so we were pretty certain about who was standing on the other side of the door. This visitor comes by every now and then, and is usually in need of something. We’ve provided sandwiches, toiletries, prayer, and sometimes just conversation.

This has been one of those weeks when those kind of interruptions came one after the other. Scott found himself facing several people in need. The needs ranged from getting someone a tank of gas for an emergency trip to planning a funeral. Scott willingly engaged in all of them.

After a couple of days, he was beginning to feel the tug from the things that were actually on his calendar that needed to be accomplished before Friday. His to-do list was still undone and now he had less time to do it. If he had passed those disruptions off to someone else, or just said no, he might have been finished with his work. He chose to keep them and say yes.

As far as I know everyone he faced this week was grateful for his help. I think he realized it too. He and I were talking about doing the small things for others when, in his witty way, he said, “Without the lug nuts, the wheels won’t stay on the bus and we’re not going anywhere.”

I think he just called himself a lug nut. He was simplifying the message that the little, seemingly insignificant things are important and that having needs met really matters most to those in need. The route the bus is scheduled to take doesn’t really matter if there are no lug nuts to hold the wheels in place.

A day or two after the lug nut conversation and a few more interruptions later, he wearily asked me why people in need seem to be drawn to him. He questioned whether he was just a sucker and a softie.

Without hesitation I responded to his question, “They are drawn to the light in you.”

I think that’s the way God designed it and why we need each other.

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16)

When a city on hill looks out beyond the hill, it doesn’t see it’s own light. It sees the darkness. In the same way, sometimes it’s difficult to see the light in ourselves. So, how do we know we’re not just suckers and softies who can’t say no? People who need us to hold them up and help keep them on the road will be drawn to us.

When they show up at your door, be the best lug nut you can be. It’s a dark world out there.

The was originally published July 13, 2016 on

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