Monday, February 13, 2012

A Torque Wrench, an Old Man and the Son of God

We've got another guest blog this week. This one comes from our good friend Kevin Vannorsdel. Kevin's our group leader for the Theology On Tap at the Rock Bottom in Westminster. Whether you're a "gear head" or're going to love this. Enjoy.

So, something has been troubling me lately.  A torque wrench.  I bought a nice one a few years back so that I could tighten nuts and bolts "the right way". For those who don't know what I am talking about, a torque wrench is both a wrench and a measurement device. You can set it to a particular tightness level by adjusting a knob at the end of the handle.  Then you stick a socket on the other end and start ratcheting away. When the tightness of the bolt reaches the preset target, the wrench either clicks or beeps or something like that. Almost all fasteners have torque specs and to "do it right"—you've just got to have this tool. But not only do you need the tool—you need the tool to be accurate. 

What's been bugging me about this torque wrench is that the last few times I tightened my lug nuts, the wrench clicked before I had hardly applied any torque at all. It could be that I am just getting stronger in my old age, but it also could be that my precious, highly expensive wrench is malfunctioning. But how can I check it? I mean, the torque wrench is SUPPOSED to be my reference device. You buy one because it itself, is accurate. What should I do—buy another torque wrench and compare it to this one? How would I know if the new one is accurate? Can I get this thing calibrated somehow? And just WHY should I be going through this—the reason I bought this thing was to never worry again about getting bolts and nuts tightened just right!  Such reference device cannot be trusted.

I met my friend Bernie back in 1996. I had moved into his house with two other guys back in California. It was a great house. It had a hot tub, a pool, and a three-car garage. It was kind of the church party house back in those days. One time we had over 100 people there for a Halloween party. The cops showed up—it was fantastic! Bernie and I got to be good friends. We were both gear heads and decided to pool our resources and buy a sand rail dune buggy. We lived only a few hours from Pismo beach and only a few more from the sand capital of America: Glamis, CA.

Bernie is a mechanical engineer and a former mechanic. He knew a lot about torque wrenches and that sort of thing and together we did a lot of work on that car. It was a bit of a vicious cycle:  break it…fix it…repeat!  I miss those simpler days—and I often think of the things I learned from Bernie. Not only how to use a torque wrench, but also how to be a good Christian. It was under Bernie's leadership that I preached my very first "sermon" at a homeless shelter in San Jose. He is now doing full time missions overseas. We still talk about cars and tools—but more often, we talk about the Bible, theology and Jesus. Bernie is a good man. Someone who follows Jesus “reliably”. A role model I can trust. A good reference—better than my torque wrench.

How did Bernie become such a good Christian man? I suspect it has something to do with his dad. Jerry is an amazing guy. He is so old. I don't even know how old he is. He kind of walks hunched over and has a lot of wrinkles. His hands are huge and show the marks of a working man. This guy has tools—and every tool he has is top-notch. I used to envy his chop saw and still wish I had that sink in the back that would squirt out solvent—making washing parts so easy! The things that man has built over the years are amazing!  And as far as I know—he's still building things.  Just a couple years ago I was out to visit and this guy was working on replacing the engine in a motor home.  He must have been like 85 years old…still doing stuff.  I want to be like him.  But more important than Jerry's ability to make cool things is his devotion to his savior, Jesus. Now, I don't know Jerry all that well actually.  But he has become my number one human role model. I've spoken of him a few times when this topic comes up in various circles. 
Jerry talks slowly, but when he does, you listen. His words are clear and every one of them drips with some morsel of wisdom. Whether it’s about how to doctor up some salsa or how to approach some problem in life—you listen. It's hard for me to convey the picture accurately to you here, and that is not my goal actually. The point I am trying to make is that for me, having a role model like Jerry is a fantastic thing. Even though I don't necessarily consult him when I face a difficult issue—I often think, “I wonder what Jerry would do in this situation.”  It always helps.   He is a good reference for me.

Human role models (I think) are extremely important to locate. Bernie and Jerry are just that: human. They are not perfect references. I suppose they are more like my torque wrench than anything.

You know what I am going to say next…Jesus is our perfect reference.

It kind of sounds like a Sunday School answer from when we were kids, but Jesus is God in a human form (see Philippians 2). It's a beautiful thing—God actually came down here and walked around as a human so that we could observe, and see how best to live our lives as humans. Jesus is both God and Man. Strange, right? Those in theology call it: The "Hypostatic Union"—sounds like the name of the sweetest tool ever, right?  I'd love to write about that, but it will have to wait for another time. The point here is that God provided an example for us in Jesus. The perfect reference device. Someone we can all strive to be like. I appreciate that.  

The trouble is that Jesus doesn't exactly walk among us these days. It is hard to pattern yourself after someone you can't see or be around. Thankfully we have the Bible. The first four books of the New Testament chronicle the life of Jesus—each from the viewpoint of a different author. In some sense, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John all say the same thing. You can read just one of them and you'll have a pretty good picture of the life of Jesus here on earth…what He did and how He acted.

There are a lot of people saying a lot of things about Jesus these days. WWJD is all over the place. Everyone presumes to know what Jesus would do. But do they? Do they really? My interaction with people tells me that many don't really have a good picture of what Jesus was really like. I think it's because precious few have actually studied Him. If you (like me) haven't read one of the gospels in awhile—why not commit to doing so sometime in the next few weeks.  Pick Mark maybe—it is likely the first one written. Any of them will provide a new or recalibrate an existing reference for you. It'll give you an example of how to act…how to live.   It'll provide you a reference that'll never let you down.

Now…about that torque wrench…

1 comment:

  1. Wow!! amazing story.. Not only did I learned something about what a cdi torque wrench could actually do,but I also gained knowledge about Jesus. I am a Catholic and I gotta admit that I know about Jesus but not the way dan,Bernie and his dad did.. Thank you for sharing such a wonderful story.