Greet Your Father in the Morning
My voice You shall hear in the morning, O Lord;
In the morning I will direct it to You, And I will look up.
~ Psalm 5:3
When I was fifteen years old, I inherited a Rambler station wagon from my big brother. Look up the word jalopy in the dictionary, and you might see a picture of the car. Faded paint, standard shift on the column, worn interior. It wasn’t much to look at, but it was mine. My brother was heading off to college in his graduation present, a used Plymouth. And I was entrusted with the Rambler. I remember the passing of the keys.
“You have to keep gas in the tank,” Dad advised.
“Air in the tires.”
“Can you change the oil and keep the car washed?”
“Of course I can,” I lied. Truth be told, I didn’t know the difference between a manifold and a windshield wiper. Which was odd since my dad was a mechanic. He made a living repairing oil field engines. And he made a hobby out of rebuilding car engines. He worked with machines like Monet worked with colors - daily and delightfully. He tried to teach me the trade, and I tried to learn, but when it came to machines, my brain was Teflon. Nothing stuck.
I wasn’t about to tell that to my father though. My ineptness surfaced the following Saturday. Dad reminded me that it was time to change the oil in the Rambler. “Do you know how to do it?”
“Yes,” I answered.
“You want me to help you?”
I should have said yes. I spent an hour beneath the car looking for the oil pan and another hour wrestling with the plug. I finally removed it, drained the oil, crawled out, and poured in five new quarts. Finished at last.
Or so I thought. Dad was waiting for me in the garage. “All done?”
“Then what is that?” He pointed to a river of oil running down the driveway - clean oil. I’d forgotten to replace the plug in the oil pan.
“Max,” he said, “we need to talk.” He walked me over to his oil field pickup. He opened the side panel and showed me the trays of tools. He began to describe the purpose of each. “I use this one to remove valves, this one to tighten clamps, this one to attach hoses, this one to...”
He took me tool by tool through his truck. After what seemed like an hour of show-and-tell, he closed the cabinet, locked it, and looked me straight in the eye. “Son,” he said, “I fix things for a living. What is hard for you is simple to me. I may not be good at everything, but I am good with machines. Let me help you. I’m a mechanic. And, besides, I’m your dad.”
I never spilled another drop of oil. (Of course, now I pay the guy at the lube store to do the work.)
Here is what I think: our toughest challenges are simple oil changes to God. Here is what else I think: a lot of us make unnecessary messes. But we can change that. May I make a suggestion?
Before you face the world, face your Father. [Just say this prayer, or something like it, first thing.]
Father, You are good. Good enough to love me, care for me, and come for me. You are good! An arch of Your eyebrow, and a million angels will pivot and salute. Every throne is a footstool to yours. Every crown is papier-mâché to Yours. You have no questions, second thoughts, or backward glances. You consult no clock. You keep no calendar. You report to no one. You are good!
~ from “Before Amen” by Max Lucado