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Thursday, April 23, 2009


J. Grant Swank, Jr.

Oil and filter change -- $12.95! What a deal.

“May I bring in my Acura at 1:45 this afternoon? Would like that bargain price oil change.” The secretary set me up. Fine.

I drove in at 1:30 — early. Seated in the lounge, I figured in a short time I’d be on my way, errands to run in the second half of Monday afternoon.

“I’m sorry,” the technician said as he walked from the shop to where customers were seated. With that, he looked straight at me.

“I don’t have the filter for your car. Phoned for one. It should be here in a few, then I’ll be done with the change,” he explained.

Okay with me. No problem. I’d just leaf through another magazine.

But when 2:10 came and there was still no Acura-with-oil-changed, I began to wonder what was going on. Other customers had made exit; I was holding the fort.

“I put a call through. They say they’re on their way. This can happen,” Harry recited apologetically.

And with that we two fell into conversation.

“I see you’re a Christian,” was it for openers. Harry had already nabbed my ID.

“How do you know that?”

“Because of the GOD BLESS YOU sign on your dash. Kinda gives a person away, doesn’t it?”

I chuckled, confessed he was speaking the truth, then proceeded to meet another member of “the family.”

That’s the way it always is.

I recall sitting under a pastor’s parsonage in Guyana. You see, there the houses are on stilts; so to sit under a house is what one does. There was a large group of us — my wife and I and then Amerindians who’d traveled down river for Bible studies under the parsonage.

What impressed me particularly was their easy manner — nice and comfy does it. They were open people, ready to smile gladly, chattering away freely, singing at the top of their lungs, witnessing to God’s love as naturally as sharing a meal.

We had never met these folk before flying into South America. But that never matters when coming on “the family.” It is as if all gathered had known one another for a lifetime.

So it was with Harry at the oil change depot.

“My wife and I moved here with our two sons from Arizona. I’m into gospel singing. In fact, am looking for some churches to sing in. If you know of any leads, I’d appreciate some info,” he said.

It was not long before Harry began to share with me some problems. Can you imagine what specifics might have been related when he told me he was rearing two sons — ages 15 and 17? And so forth.

We talked about the past, the present and hopes for the future. We talked about favorite gospel singers, where he and family worshiped, how he took to Maine’s Lake Region, the business he himself owned prior to moving here, and answers to prayer.

Ah, there was the oil filter delivery. So Harry was on his way. The clock showed 2:50! Hmmmm.

Inconvenience? Worth the wait? Another bump in the road?

It was a miracle come upon — meeting a brother in the Lord for the first time, sharing in prayer, reminding one another of Scripture promises, covenanting to intercede for one another in between oil changes.

That’s the way it is when a believer folds into the divine plan — daily — just letting God have His way. In that, there are times when a person comes into finding “the family” expanded.

Nothing like it. Over a lifetime, it really adds up — whether in Guyana or southern Maine.