When a customer would come in with a complaint of a noise, I would try to pin it down. “It does it all the time,” and I would ask “is it doing it now? Well then it doesn’t do it all the time.” And could narrow it down to make my tech’s job easier to duplicate and diagnose. A lesson learned and applied to myself one afternoon. I was managing a small shop with four of us crazies. We were hanging out from previous stressful jobs, and having fun, too much fun sometimes. Charlie had a good shop but needed to be organized, which I provided and made him money. Joe was a well know fabricator among SCORE racers and had helped build some championship trucks. Harp was just looking to coast, as he was a renowned header builder, had worked on land speed record holding cars, and done wind tunnel work. Even spent time working for Jim Feuling. All four of us good at what we did, with one flaw, we loved to laugh and joke. With one rule, “it’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye.” And we were all fair targets.
Now Joe liked to tie zip ties on the wheels of Harp’s cart, making it not roll or fall over. He was the master of using them, and I became his target one afternoon. When leaving work, as I drove off in my truck, it started making a banging sound underneath, and I knew just what it was. Charlie climbed under it, cut off the zip tie wrapped around the driveshaft that made the drumming noise every time the truck moved, we both knew it was Joe, but he had left before. Remember, no one had lost an eye, yet. So the next day I showed up early and told Charlie “just go ahead with what I do to Joe.” And when Joe arrived, I had a sling around my neck, with my arm in it. And was screaming at Charlie “I don’t think it’s funny, I know you did it. I spent three hours in the ER having my shoulder put back in place!” while Charlie tried not laugh, denying it in front of Joe. Now Joe was the perfect mark, we were close and he was tender hearted, and upset to see me in a sling. So I went on after Charlie, him standing there and listening when Harp drove up. And listened. Charlie kept denying it, I kept accusing, Joe stood there almost in tears, and Harp walked off shaking his head. That joke wasn’t so funny. A few minutes later we were all together, except Joe,when he came up and started babbling “Mikey I’m so sorry I did it, not Charlie. I’m so sorry I didn’t mean for you to get hurt.” And we could no longer hold it together, and we all broke up laughing, even Harp who by now had figured out the joke. I had gotten Joe back, no one had lost an eye, and I had gotten back at Joe. In front of everyone. I had pulled off the ultimate practical joke on maybe the ultimate practical joker, and we still talk about it. And to this day, I know just what the case of the driveshaft drumming dilemma was all about. Now about that noise you’re hearing.....does it really do it all the time?
Proverbs tells us “to not put your ear to the wall because you may not like what your neighbor is saying about you.” It just doesn’t seem right that Solomon was so smart. But I bet he was also speaking from experience as the king. Too often we jump to conclusions, and put our foot in our mouths, wishing we could retrieve the words we just spoke. Sometimes it causes damage to relationships that can go on forever, sometimes it is like Joe, we are sorry and repent. But until we know what we have done is wrong, we may be sorry we got caught, or even hurt someone, but will do it again, because we have not repented, we have not asked for forgiveness, and turned from it. Repent is an interesting word, a military term meaning to turn around and go the other way. Stop what you are doing, and don’t do it again. Not a retreat, but an admission of guilt, a relieving of guilt and the burden of it getting between you and God. And that forgiveness is only found in Jesus, when we are prompted by the holy spirit. We all like to joke, but some go overboard, to great lengths to hurt. Even a kind ridicule can damage, and you don’t have to lose an eye before it isn’t fun and games anymore.
Some are just sorry for the moment, some sorry they got caught, but true repentance comes from the heart. A sign we have sinned, and don’t wish to repeat it. I have two friends who lately asked me to pray for them, they are involved in sin and want to stop. Both times I refused, “you know what you are doing is wrong already, it is your choice to continue. That is not repentance, but your sin is between you and God.” I love these men, but I cannot be their savior, or their conscience. That is for the spirit to do, and he seems to be doing a good job, they both are seeking, but still avoiding the inevitable. Which is to repent, and I hope they both do soon. I can love and I can counsel, but I cannot change a heart or reunite it with God. Only Jesus can do that...
So that noise you may be hearing is a knocking at your heart, the spirit telling you that you have a problem. One that is standing between you and God, and that all it takes is knowing it is sin, repenting, and being forgiven. Now at first I thought of seeking revenge on Joe, the chance just could not be passed up. But he got the point, a least for a while, he loved me and didn’t want to hurt me. But would continue on in his jokes until he repented. Hopefully before he lost an eye, or a friend did.
When Paul confronted the church at Corinth about their sin, he didn’t stay stop or you lose your salvation. He said “stop, you are hurting yourself.” He just said “stop.” And enjoy the gift of salvation via God’s grace he has given you. Let nothing stand between you and Jesus, like David acknowledged, “for I have sinned against both God and man.” Remember whatever we do we are doing unto others, we are doing unto Jesus. We all can become that victim at any time. But that forgiveness is always available. Seek it first today, let the spirit guide you and show you where sin is in your life. And give it to Jesus. “But I don’t do it all the time,” but did you do it before? Will you do it again? Are you still doing it? Only when your heart changes will your actions follow. Without forgiveness both the joke and the sin are on you.
love with compassion,