Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Squeaky Wheel

“You can’t let the squeaky wheel get the grease!” 

This has been one of my most common mottos in life – and especially, in parenting. I’ve always been annoyed anytime I’ve witnessed a disobedient child getting all the attention. I’ve always cringed at the sight of the “slacker” finally doing something “normal” and thus getting lavished in praise for doing what they should have done all along.

“We shouldn't praise normalcy,” I would lecture, bitterly; “Normalcy is to be expected. We should only praise exceptionalism.”

And while this may be an effective attitude in business and government, it doesn't work in the home, and it certainly isn’t how Christ deals with us.

Even as I type this, I want so badly to reject it. I literally despise the notion of the lazy, selfish, and disobedient person getting showered in gifts and attention. I despise the mere thought of the hard-working, obedient, and honest person getting no more love and attention than the idiot who squandered it all. I despise the prodigal son – and I particularly resent his Father.

If I was the Father, I would have taught that wayward son a lesson. First of all, he wouldn’t have got my inheritance early, and second of all, if I was merciful enough to let him back in my house after he betrayed me like that, he would have earned his keep.  

And If I was the Shepard in Luke, I would have let that careless, and obviously inattentive, lost sheep go. After all, it’s not fair to the other ninety-nine, if I leave them alone to go after the one who couldn’t act right. And if I’m going to be giving anyone free-rides on my shoulders, it’s going to be the ones who deserve it. The other ninety-nine seemed to manage to stay on the right path, why should I give extra attention to the one who couldn’t?

And why should I go downstairs to the room of my grounded son and hug him, and tell him how much I love him, when his more obedient siblings deserve whatever hugs would have went to him? Why should all my attention go to the trouble-maker, while the obedient siblings sit upstairs alone? Why should the squeaky wheel get all the grease?

And why should—

“The only reason you don’t squeak, is because you’ve got the grace,” the Lord interrupts my complaints.

This shuts me up.

Those times I think I’ve got it all together, those times I think I’m so righteous, and those times I think I’m so capable, it turns out,  I’m nothing more than a squeaky wheel that’s been silenced by grace.

And come to think of it, I’m not even all that silent. I whine (squeak) , I complain (squeak), and sometimes I even write my grumbles on a blog (squeak, squeak).  Yet, the Mechanic is always listening, always seeking out the origin of the squeak, and is always ready with His bottle of greasy grace.

The Holy Spirit then faces me with this pride-killing question: How could you withhold grace from others when you know it is the only thing that keeps you turning smoothly? Without it, you would rust – and die.

Oh, as much as my inner-Pharisee wants to fight back, scripture proves time and time again that in the Lord’s shop, the squeaky wheel always gets the GRACE – and truth is, we are ALL squeaky wheels.