The Slide-Hammer of the Spirit

I’m not a professional mechanic, and I don’t even play one on TV, but I’ve done my fair share of “shade tree mechanic” repairs, and I’m pretty handy with a socket set. I’ve been working this week on a fairly major brake job on my daughter’s car, a 1984 Nissan Sentra. Sara unintentionally drove the car for a while after the brakes should have been replaced, and what should have been a simple pad replacement turned into a $550 estimate from my neighborhood big-name auto repair shop. Given that I don’t have that kind of money to throw into a car that I only paid $650 for in the first place, and the fact that the parts for this job would only cost me about $100, I decided to don my mechanic’s hat and do the job myself.

Then, I found out why there was so much labor included in the estimate.

The front hubs and brakes on this old Nissan are a different design than the American cars I did this kind of work on when I was a teenager. The front wheel bearings and hub are pressed in, rather than the easier-to disassemble designs of my youth. The shop manual made the disassembly process sound easy enough, until I actually tried doing it. The process called for a $150 tool called a “slide hammer,” which I don’t own and wasn’t about to buy for one brake job. Being a charter member of the “mechanical improviser’s club,” I figured I could find some alternative way to disassemble the thing that would work just as well. I proved just how stubborn I can be by spending two days fussing and fighting with the front hub, including removing the entire assembly from the car. I surely wasn’t going to admit defeat. If I couldn’t get it apart, I’d just mutilate it badly enough that I would have to replace the whole assembly.

Finally, after two frustrating evenings of hard work, I was ready to get a price on a slide hammer. I called a reputable auto parts store, and asked for a price. A few moments later, after my entire life had flashed before my eyes, and I started breathing again, the guy on the phone told me that his competitor down the street had one available for rent. I called the competitor and found out I didn’t even have to rent it—just put down a security deposit, in case I didn’t return it. Upon return, the deposit would be refunded in full.

Last night, I approached the job with the right tool in hand. It’s amazing how productive you can be with the right tools—I only worked two hours, but accomplished more in that two hours than I had in the previous two days. Not only did I get both hubs pulled, I replaced both brake rotors, re-packed the bearings, and reassembled one side. I would have reassembled the other one too, were it not for that nut that I managed to damage while trying to improvise without the right tools. Another hour or two, and the front brakes ought to be finished.

My, what a difference it makes when you’ve got the right tools.

You don’t have to be mechanically inclined to discuss having the right tools. All of us, whatever our specialty, have tools that we use every day—and without those tools, we’d have a hard time doing whatever it is that we do.

What are the tools that ought to be in the toolkits carried by growing Christians? Paul mentions several of those tools in his “armor of God” analogy in Ephesians 6. He mentions Truth, Righteousness, Peace, Salvation, and of course the Word of God—the Bible. These are all important tools that are basic to our relationship with God, tools that no believer should be without. Some folks seem to ignore the tool that Paul mentions next, because he doesn’t provide an armor analogy with it, but without this tool—prayer—you’ll find a lot of frustration and discouragement trying to use the others. If the Word of God is, as Paul describes it, the “sword of the Spirit,” Prayer is the “slide-hammer of the Spirit.” It’s the tool that makes things move, and that when properly applied makes things happen.

Prayer is the most important and powerful tool in your toolbox, Christian—and, you don’t even have to pay a deposit to use it.

Jesus already paid it for you!

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