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The Lug Wrench

When you fear that the worst will happen, your own thoughts may help to bring it about. “Fear,” a writer once said, “Is the wrong use of imagination. It is anticipating the worst, not the best that can happen.”

A salesman, driving on a lonely country road one dark and rainy night had a flat. He opened the trunk—no lug wrench. The light from a farmhouse could be seen dimly up the road. He set out on foot through the driving rain. Surely the farmer would have a lug wrench he could borrow, he thought. Of course, it was late at night—the farmer would be asleep in his warm, dry bed. Maybe he wouldn’t answer the door. And even if he did, he’d be angry at being awakened in the middle of the night. The salesman, picking his way blindly in the dark, stumbled on. By now his shoes and clothing were soaked. Even if the farmer did answer his knock, he would probably shout something like, “What’s the big idea waking me up at this hour!”

This thought make the salesman angry. What right did that farmer have to refuse him the loan of a lug wrench? After all, here he was stranded in the middle of nowhere, soaked to the skin. The farmer was a selfish clod—no doubt about that! The salesman finally reached the house, and banged loudly on the door. A light went on inside, and a window opened above. “Who is it?” a voice called out. “You know darn will who it is,” yelled the salesman, his face white with anger. “It’s me! You can keep your blasted lug wrench. I wouldn’t borrow it now if you had the last one on earth!”

Bits and Pieces, May, 1991, p. 23