My oil light came on!
Because my husband faithfully keeps the oil changed, the light caught me totally off guard. But he had prepared me well. “Don’t drive the car home to tell me about it if that little light comes on. Just stop the car and don’t go anywhere.”
So I turned around and drove immediately back into the school parking lot. However, I had no idea what to do next. Engine oil and I have a history. Not necessarily a bad history, but a brief moment in time which is etched into my memory by my family quite often. My brothers, in particular, love to rehearse the details, much to my chagrin! Here’s the story. Maybe it will give you a chuckle, too.
My first semester of graduate school was concluding, and I eagerly anticipated Christmas break. As I loaded my old, blue car, I realized I’d driven all semester without doing any basic maintenance on it. My father and brothers were fastidious about keeping their cars in tip-top shape, and I’d always been content to let them care for my car when I was home. I knew better than to show up with a neglected automobile. The tires looked fine, the turn signals worked, as did the headlights and taillights, and the car stopped when I pushed the brake pedal. Was there anything else to check? Yes, the oil.
I grabbed a couple of paper towels and raised the hood. The dipstick was right where I expected. How hard could it be?
It wasn’t that hard. I pulled the oil stick out, wiped it off, and reinserted it. I pulled it out the second time. (Doing pretty well so far, right?) Then I read the dipstick. I was horrified to see how low the oil was, but I was relieved I’d checked it before traveling home.
Since I had no idea how to put oil into the car, I called a mechanic friend in town. He asked how much oil the car needed. I wasn’t sure. He asked what the dipstick read. (I have to chuckle at this point, recognizing who the real dipstick was!) I told him it said I needed a lot. He questioned me again, and I assured him the indicator said, “Needs lot.”
After a brief moment of silence, he informed me that in the hundreds of cars he’d worked on, he’d never seen one that said “Needs lot.” After making me promise not to touch anything else on the car, he promised to come by that evening to check it out.
True to his word, he showed up after dinner. As I watched him check the oil, I assured him after each step. “I did that”; “I did that”; and “I did that.” Then we both peered at the stick.
I pointed “See! It says right there, ‘Needs lot.'”
At that point, Matt doubled over in laughter. I was fairly certain it was not a complimentary laugh. But being the patient friend, he pointed out the difference in what I thought it said and what it actually said.
“Linda, it doesn’t say “Needs lot.” It says “Needs 1Qt.”
I experienced both embarrassment at misinterpreting the indicator and gratitude the car wasn’t as low in oil as I’d thought.
Matt added the needed oil, and I was ready for the trip home.
Needless to say, the story beat me home. Matt was my brother’s buddy. One telephone call was all it took for my family to know of my mechanical ineptness. Thirty-five years later, they still laugh about it. I do, too.
So when my oil light came on today, I responded rather timidly. Grammar, cooking, teaching, writing, needlework — these are my strengths. Obviously, auto mechanics is not on that list. I was thankful for Matt’s help long ago because he understood engines. I needed his expertise.
We each have strengths and weaknesses. Our strengths are to be used to assist others; our weaknesses are opportunities for others to help us. Working together works best!
The same principle applies in the church. God has allotted certain abilities to each believer and instructs us to cooperate with one another in the use of those gifts. Showcasing capabilities will accomplish little; employing capabilities to help others will accomplish much. What a marvelous plan! Once again, we see God’s infinite wisdom.
I’m grateful people with the know-how came to my assistance today. My story has a happy ending because of their kindness.
Perhaps tomorrow someone will need my help with cooking. You never know!
“As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another.” I Peter 4:10