Friday, January 5, 2007

Rainy day improvising

This last Wednesday, I was called in as backup to help a couple of friends unload a engine-less Chevy blazer so that one of them could remove the transmission and make a few extra bucks repairing another vehicle. Pretty routine--my job consisted of pushing at the right time and in the right direction. Fair enough.

But when we rolled up on the hill across from the retirement center on Madrona, and I saw the trailer, I began wondering what I had gotten myself into.

The bruised and broken trailer, borrowed from someone else's loose acquaintance, lacked ramps with which to lower the vehicle. Instead, somebody brought along a couple of rotten planks, maybe that might work. Worse, the trailer did not have a floor. That's right, the wheels of the Blazer were precariously balanced on its metal frame, the holes in which were loosely covered with also-rotten planks of plywood. Sweet. Glad I'm not the brains of the operation here. I'm just here to push.

So then the deliberation began. Along with the rain. Standing alongside, I watched a few different options tried and abandoned. I ran up from the sidelines now and again to push heartily in one direction or another. After breaking a ramp-board and watching half of the Blazer fall off the back of the trailer and onto the street, the decision was made simply to pull the trailer out from underneath the Blazer. Sure enough, after some satisfactory metal scraping and chassis-bouncing, the Blazer was free. Several of us rushed forward to push the Blazer into the driveway and secure it with blocks. Mission accomplished. Soaking wet, but done.

Shaking my head and walking away, I asked myself how different the situation would have turned out if a professional towing company would have done the job. Quick, painless, clean. Deposited right where you wanted it. Heck, I wouldn't even have been involved. But towing is expensive when insurance isn't covering it. The whole point was to make money on the deal, not waste it on resources that would defeat the purpose. These guys improvised with workable tools at hand. The truck ended up in the driveway just the same.

Of course, the whole episode got me thinking about church planting. I imagine lots of folks from established churches would look at some of the things we do at Cascade Hills and gasp. Rotten tools, rainy weather, a lot of extra work that is dirty and difficult. There are the people standing alongside to help, watching the "brains" of the operation puzzle out a workable solution which often involves scraping and banging.

But it gets done, because it must be done. Even with the startling lack of resources with which church planters work, solutions present themselves. Sometimes its difficult work, but we must work with the tools at hand. And the work gets done: people become connected to a faith community, hope returns to lives that have shriveled, lost sheep return to the fold of the Great Shepherd. Rainy days or no, what an adventure!

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