(January 9, 2017) Maureen McQuillan reminisces …
An engine had failed and was taken into a nearby shed. No one could fix it. Then they brought in an older chap supposedly with some 50 years’ experience on such engines.
Younger maintenance men sniggered as the old pensioner hobbled around. Ever so slowly he inspected the faulty engine very carefully, top to bottom. After looking things over, this old senior reached into his tool bag and pulled out a small hammer. Then he gently tapped something. Instantly, the engine surged with power into life. It was fixed! The sniggering stopped.
Seven days later the owners got the retired engineer’s bill for 10K. ‘What is this!’ they demanded when the retiree answered their complaining phone call. ‘You hardly did anything. Send us an itemised bill.’
He did so. The new itemised account read:
- Hammer tapping – $ 2
- Knowing where to tap – $ 9,998
- Total $10,000
Never underestimate seniors’ hidden gems of acquired knowledge. It was Francis Bacon, who served as Attorney General and Lord Chancellor of England, who said, ‘Knowledge is power.’
And never underestimate the power of experience. Most importantly, never underestimate that key word in trusting God and living the Christ-life – attitude!
Why is this a key word, you ask? Well, let me link attitude with experience.
We usually consider ‘experience’ as incidents that have taught us something and we learn and gain life values. Sometimes certain experiences aren’t pleasant! Yet we still learn from them.
Some three decades ago our ministry base was in Adelaide. In time, led by the Lord, we moved back to Melbourne and within two years were able to build a new home in an eastern suburb. We were just settling in when this ‘lesson-teaching experience’ happened…
Readers know that I’m a designer/decorator and I had decided to save some finance by doing inside door painting myself – all 22 doors!
So, Robert’s study first and, paint and brush in hand, up the ladder I go and begin painting. But, twenty or so minutes later …
Crash! Down I come with a bone-jarring thud onto the hard wooden floor, trying to stop paint spilling down the walls and window as I fly through the air striking the ladder as I go!
Foolishly I had walked backwards off the wrong side of the ladder!
But more than being stunned physically I was jarred spiritually. I always commit each new day to God and that morning had prayed, ‘Please, Lord, you’ve got to help me get all this work done while Robert’s out or it’s going to be too much for me.’
But what happens? I fall! I experience a really bad fall and I’m black and blue all over! Every breath hurts; my right leg and especially my ankle are badly swollen. My ribs feel like they’re broken.
Then I’m in agony and out of commission over the next few weeks!
I’m human too! And it would have been so easy to display a wrong attitude, to be angry at God, at myself, at my husband for not being around.
But as I reflected that evening, I saw the Lord’s hand of grace and protection. The falling paint pot hadn’t spilled with contents splattering over the window and walls. Nor had the spiraling paintbrush I’d dropped caused any disaster either . The new carpet hadn’t been laid yet, so we had been spared damage and expensive cleaning costs.
Most importantly I wasn’t crippled under the falling, twisting ladder. Even though it was painful, I could still move around. Things could have been much worse.
When things go wrong, it’s so easy to blame others. Worse still to blame God – especially after having asked for his help! The truth is that no matter what goes down, God remains a good God! He ‘doesn’t change’ (Psalm 55:19), he’s just like his Son, Jesus – ‘yesterday, today, tomorrow, he’s always totally himself’ (Hebrews 13:8 Mge).
We need to watch our attitudes in these situations – we need to take our eyes of the circumstances and think outside the box and see the bigger picture, and discern what God is doing.
In my case he did protect me – the fall could have been more serious and I could so easily have broken my back. Instead the incident, the ‘my own fault really’ experience, caused me to check my attitude – was I going to blame my loving, caring God for not answering my prayer as I had expected?
Or was I going to rejoice and praise him for his kindness in protecting me from something worse and also ensuring the room itself wasn’t paint splattered?
Now those who know me are aware that I can be stubbornly independent at times when it comes to ‘letting go and letting others.’ So now I was forced to ease up and allow a friend to do the painting! And discover what would happen now that I had the right attitude.
In a nutshell, this was not a welcomed experience – but it was one that led to an attitude assessment.
Attitude is mind and heart related
The dictionary explains this word as what we think, how we judge matters and the experiences we go though, one’s frame of mind, viewpoint, perspective, interpretation, reaction.
Love to read your Bible? It’s not only circumstances that challenge our attitude – Hebrews 4:12 informs us that the power in God’s word ‘judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.’ The original Greek word here is ennoia indicating thoughtfulness in understanding and intent.
Speaking of the Christian’s new life in Christ, Paul writes in Ephesians 4:23, ‘be made new in the attitude of your minds.’
A lesson to learn here is that at times when things go wrong, if our attitude remains right then God comes through with blessings – even unexpected ones – in his timing. In the above incident, my attitude swiftly became one of praise and thanksgiving.
Then, within days of my crashing to the floor (my ‘come-downance’ as it were!) and change of attitude, I received some good news – the answer to another prayer! Our daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter had decided to move from Adelaide and live close by us in Melbourne. What a joy and the long-awaited answer to an area of emptiness that had been in my life for over two years.
In our Christian experience many things in life link together. Wrong attitudes may restrict God’s blessings until we change. Like that senior engineer, he knows the right spot to tap, as it were! I was so glad that I kept my attitude right!
From that experience (and others!), I’m passing on some good advice free – not charging $10,000!
Next time something goes wrong, or seems to be going wrong, and your prayer isn’t being answered as you expected it or thought it should be, check your attitude and discover the bigger picture. What is God saying or doing in it all?
And always remember Paul’s belief that ‘we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose’ (Romans 8:28). Or as the Message puts it, ‘we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.’