The Pastor’s Piece – April 28, 2024

The Pastor’s Piece


April 28, 2024

I keep busy all week long being a shepherd for my church flock. I have always loved people and God has really blessed us with people from our church. In my spare time, I like to be a farmer. I have a skid loader that is about 20 years old but is still in pretty good shape. My dad gave it to me when he no longer needed it. When he had it, it burned up in a fire but he bought it back from the insurance company and fixed it all up. I’ve had a few problems with it over the years, but mostly minor. But last year, it picked up a very aggressive oil leak. So last winter a friend of mine, who can fix anything, offered to take it apart in his shop and find the leak. It took a while, but we eventually found the problem. There was a seal that went bad that let oil leak out every time the machine was in motion. After we fixed it, I went from losing (literally) gallons of oil a week, to just a few drops. 

Last week one day, when I was using it, I went to raise the bucket only to hear a terrible screeching noise of metal on metal. At that moment, I was instantly drenched in oil, as it came spraying out of one of the oil lines. I immediately shut the machine off to stop the spray, but I was covered in oil from head to toe. It soaked through my pants and shirt and drenched my face and glasses. On the upside, my skin was baby-soft the rest of that day. As I investigated the cause, I found that the cage was crushed on one side and bent down and sideways and two of the steel oil lines that are attached to the up and down arm had been damaged and broken. So, I got my wrenches (13/16 and 7/8) and removed the steel lines and called in to get replacements. They had to order them. They cost $178 each. Two days later I replaced the broken steel lines with the new ones and the machine works fine now. I straightened the cage that was all bent up and one can hardly tell that it was damaged at all. But I cannot for the life of me figure out what happened and caused all that damage. I did not hit anything that I know of. All I know is when I raised the arms up, the oil line broke. It’s a mystery. 

When I was kid, my parents had a Ford Country Squire station wagon, complete with wood paneling on the sides. I don’t remember for sure, but I’m guessing it had a 289 cubic inch V-8 under the hood. Dad could get that thing chugging down the road at a decent speed when he had to. We had a lot of memories in that old car. When my brother broke his leg from falling off a hay wagon, Dad took the two back seats out, and we loaded him in there lying flat on his back on a piece of three-quarter inch plywood. There were three of us on each side guiding him in. (Picture loading a casket into the back of a hearse). Who needs an ambulance?

Once, when dad needed to go to town to get parts, he opened the door to climb in and our family dog, uniquely named Lassie, jumped in before he could stop her. On the way to town, she had puppies in the back seat. Dad left with one dog in the car – came home with eight. Lassie had seven new little puppies on that trip. Our joy knew no bounds.   

Later, mom and dad traded the Country Squire in for a Dodge Monaco station wagon. Again, with wood paneled sides. It had all the bells and whistles, including fancy hubcaps and a chrome-plated luggage rack on top. It also had the cool feature of the back seat facing backwards. Now we could see where we had gone while not knowing where we were going. You had to put the back window down and open the tailgate to get in. Sometimes dad would drive with the back window down but it only took a couple of seconds for the entire car to fill up with exhaust fumes. Much to our disappointment, that pretty much ruled out the option of having the back window open. The only lasting memory I have of that car is that one winter, one of my older brothers bashed in three of its four fenders in his girlfriend’s driveway. Every time he came home from a date, a different fender was crushed. Of course, he had a lame excuse every time, and it took a lot of high school pay checks to pay dad back to get them fixed. In the end, the relationship with his girlfriend didn’t work out anyway, so it was all an effort in futility. 

“The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you,” (Psalms 9:9-10). 

(Kevin Cernek is Lead Pastor of Martintown Community Church in Martintown, Wisconsin).