One of our trucks was rusting through the cab and desperately need to be repaired before the damage was irreversible. Since I consider myself to be a decent shade-tree mechanic/body guy, I took it upon myself to fix the damage and reseal the truck. I am not sure why they don't just fiberglass everything with all of the salt and corrosion. My strategy was to grind down all of the rust-contaminated areas using a grinder brush, treat the remaining surface rust, then fiberglass the bottom of the truck (all of it up 6 inches on the door, and finally cover the fiberglass with truck bed liner. I expected all of this to take about 2 weeks. In Louisiana, I would have been successful. You have about 12 minutes to use fiberglass before it cures, so you only use a little at a time and just kind of work your way around the truck. I expected to go through a few cheap brushes (they are destroyed by the hardening fiberglass). I had all of the pieces of the plan together and in place. I had prepared for contingencies. I had all of my materials ready. With this level of preparation and my experience and skill set, what could go wrong?
It started bad. As I began to work on this golf-ball sized hole, the entire sub-surface began to fall apart. The paint was truly holding it together. My golf-ball sized hole grew to the size of a parking garage. Both sides were falling apart all the way up the doors behind the wheel and door trims. No problem, I had plenty of bondo, fiberglass, and plenty of the matting. I was grateful to discover it and to be able to treat it before the winter got it. I am confident it would have been beyond any help with one more winter.
I made the decision to do a complete strip and just fiberglass everything. As I began to work with the fiberglass, I noticed it wasn't tacking up. I mixed the hardener catalyst properly ... it just wasn't hardening. I at first thought that, due to the cold weather, it just took longer, so I continued to fiberglass the rest of the truck. I was actually pleased that I was able to use one brush and not destroy so many. I had expected to be able to come back after lunch and apply the bed liner. When I came back from lunch, it was all still very wet. I figured I would come back the next day and finish it all still way ahead of schedule. A week, later, it was still as if I had just applied it ... wet and totally unworkable. I was stuck and behind schedule ... so I began to ask the experts because obviously I had just been removed from that category. Guess what I discovered.
Did you know that fiberglass doesn't cure when applying it in temperatures under 60 degrees? I didn't know that. But now I do. I can take from days to weeks to cure ... it will cure, but in needs something ... it needs HEAT!!! I hooked up a space heater and employed the use of a heat gun on low heat with high air volume and wouldn't you know!?! As I carefully focused the heat on the fiberglass resin, I could see it hardening. I watched it cure! Wow!!
So what's the point? Let it sink in. I had all of the pieces in place. I had all of the skills, materials, plans, processes, etc ... but I was missing heat. Isn't that our lives. We have all of the things we can control in place for the plan to work and it doesn't because it's missing the one substance that is not natural to us or it ... so we can do all of the things correctly, have the discipline to do all things right and with excellence, and they still don't work out.
Have you ever obeyed God to the minute detail and the thing didn't work out? That's hard to deal with isn't it? Have you ever stepped out using a solid and well laid out plan that just didn't work out? That's hard to deal with isn't it? We question God's faithfulness. We question whether or not we can actually hear His voice. We question our commitment to Him and His commitment to us! Yet in all of these things we must remember that somethings just don't work out because they are missing something we are not responsible to provide! In those cases, the assessment of success must be on the grounds of obedience and not on results! Did you obey God and do what He asked? Then you are successful. Remember, as with King Asa, just because you get the results you want does not mean that God is behind it either. In all things, we must remember this key verse:
"Unless the Lord builds the house, they that labor do so in vain." (Psalms 127:1)
Heat can be a killer ... it can be destructive. It is merely a chemical reaction ... a transfer of energy - atomic collisions. We ask God to do a thing. We make the arrangements. We go through the preparations. We may even go to a few seminars. But when conflict comes we go through tirades to avoid it. Yet it may be that very conflict that God is bringing to serve as the missing ingredient that will cause all of the other parts to work.
The Bible speaks of love the same way (John 13:34-35; 1 Corinthians 13; 1 John 4). "Let me get this straight! I can do all things necessary but, without love, none of it will matter?" Yes! That's exactly what it says. Jesus says (paraphrased) that I can perform the greatest miracles, most powerful services, etc ... but if I don't have an obvious and noticeable love for others, my discipleship is void and invisible ... therefore they can't see Him working through me ... therefore through me they can't see Him. That's something to think about!
When we move to obey the leading of the Lord we must get out of our head the thought or predictions of what that success will look like, or else we will adjust all that we do to cater to that thought. Instead, we must be content with assessing our success based on the merits of pure obedience. If He provides the ingredients we can't, the thing will work. But if in His perfect design He has decided that failure is the needed thing, we have to be ok with that ... even ready for it.
I can tell you, that when working on another man's truck who needs it back, who can't just go buy a new one, who has entrusted me with his valuable possession with the idea that I was going to make it better, and I can't either make it work or replace it ... that finding contentment is easier than it sounds ... and thank goodness for a heat gun. But I have seen plans in Christ fail ... and have seen Him right behind it all ... He always is ... and the result of the thing, whether success or failure, is always survivable and contentment is always attainable throughout the process.
Trust and obey, for there's no other way to be happy in Jesus.
That's my take anyways, thanks for reading!!!
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