Updated: Apr 20, 2022
Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor . . . A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. Ecclesiastes 4:9, 12b NIV
For better or worse, I am hardwired to do things by myself. Asking for help is a sign of weakness. You never saw John Wayne asking for help. I grew up resonating with Henry Clay’s “the self-made man.” I connected with sayings like “pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps.” (Of course, I never really thought that through. It would be embarrassing if I really tried it. Especially at my age.) There are other sayings: “the strong, silent type,” “good, old fashioned American know how,” and “rugged American individualism.” MacGyver was my hero and could do anything with chewing gum, duct tape and a paper clip. Did he ask for help?
Consequently, I approach any project with the idea of doing it alone. If it truly is a two-man job, I figure out how to do it with a minimum of help. I admit that this is not a healthy attitude and does not foster a warm and loving bond with my life partner who wants to help. But, when Paul says, “I will boast of the things that show my weakness,” it simply does not compute.
One day, Carol told me that the washing machine wasn’t working. We had just returned home after being away for over a month. “Project mode” kicked in. Something to fix. I got this! I fix things. We both went up to the washer. She turned on the switch. I could hear things clicking inside.
“Is the water on?” Carol asked. I looked at the valves. The handles were parallel with the pipe.
“Yes. The handles are in the right position. It sounds like the solenoid valves inside the washer aren’t working.”
“Is there anything I can do to help?” asked Carol.
She knew what I would say. Besides, it was late, and I decided to work on it the next day. But before going to bed, I looked up everything I could find on troubleshooting a 30-year old Maytag washing machine. (Getting help from the internet doesn’t count.) Then, after going to bed, I went over the troubleshooting process again and again until I was dreaming about it.
The next day, I pulled the washer away from the wall, turned off the valves, and began to loosen the hoses. I expected a spurt, relieving the pressure. But it continued much longer than it should. In fact, it didn’t stop! So, I tightened the hoses, and scratched my head. Hmm. This is curious. I looked at the valve handles. I wonder if they are actually on instead of off?
I turned on the washer, and it started working. This is embarrassing. It means I was wrong.
It’s kind of like trying to fix a car that’s not running, only to discover it’s out of gas. I had forgotten that I had turned the valves off when we left for vacation. I didn’t remember the position of the handles. The good news is that it was an easy fix. The bad news is that I could have avoided all this by listening to my wife and accepting the help she offered. There must be a sermon illustration here somewhere.
God wants me to rely on Him, even in areas where I have perceived strength. At times, He humbles me (usually ever so gently) to remind me that He is my true source of strength.
But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 1 Cor. 1:27 NIV
After all, He is the master electrician, carpenter, plumber and builder who made all that surrounds us, including all the technical stuff we enjoy. And often He speaks to me through my wife.