The Great Conspiracy

Do you ever feel like the world is conspired against you?

A few weeks ago, one of the headlights on my car was burned out. Now, I'm about as handy as a foot, and auto mechanics is a language I understand as well as Chinese. But I've replaced bulbs before, so it was going to be no big deal. I even had an extra bulb in my workshop from the two-pack I bought last year.

I popped open the hood, unscrewed the bulb, and was ready to put the new one in when I realized my new bulb was slightly different. And I do mean slightly. There was one little extra tab that made it impossible to fit it in. So I checked the number on the old bulb, realized I needed an exact match, and drove off to Auto Zone to get it.

I returned home, plugged in the new bulb, and then spent about 15 frustrating minutes trying to reenter the bulb plate into the back of the fixture. You have to have it just right (you can't see it) before it will screw back on. Finally, I got it inserted and screwed on. I turned on the headlight to check it. And discovered I had replaced the wrong one. I had replaced the high beam instead of the regular beam.

Okay, I'm an idiot. But I discovered the extra bulb that didn't work before was actually for the regular headlight. So I didn't have to go back to the store. I screwed in the new bulb, got the fixture back in place (only five minutes this time), and was finished.

Having accomplished such a manly task, I pushed my luck. The brake light in our van has been on. I thought I'd check the brake fluid. I popped the hood, and located every reservoir of liquid except the brake fluid. I took the manual out of the glove box, found the engine diagram and there it was, buried in the back, unmarked. I unscrewed the cap to see if it was empty. It wasn't. But as I went to screw the cap back on, it slipped out of my fingers. I heard it drop, make several mysterious pinging noises, and then....silence.

"No way!" I said, though I was thinking of some other words I've heard Karen use when she's mad at me.

I crawled under the van. Surely it was on the ground? No, it was stuck somewhere inside the engine.

Now it was getting dark, and we had plans to go out. But I had effectively rendered our van undrivable, and I had a full day at church tomorrow and we needed the van. I was officially an idiot.

I ran inside to get a flashlight. In our house, flashlights disappear more quickly than milk and cereal. I couldn't find one. So I got in my other car and drove to our local hardware store. I nearly ran over the owner as she walked to her car, having just turned over the "closed" sign. I raced to CVS, where I found the flashlight aisle, which happened to be devoid of all flashlights. Unbelievable. I couldn't stop now. I got back in the car and headed the other direction, towards Walmart. I decided to check at Sheetz instead. Sure enough, they had nice little flashlights and they weren't terribly overpriced. I bought three, and paid $79 for a lifetime warranty against losing them.

I returned home. It was now dark. I was frustrated and embarrassed. What started out as a simple task that should have taken ten minutes and the brain of a pea had turned into a two-hour production for a pea-brain.

And I was hearing voices. You know the ones I mean--the ones that assail your weaknesses. How can I make this so difficult? Why am I so inept? Why can I not fix anything without a huge hassle? Why is the world conspired against me?

I imagined the call I would have to make. "AAA? Yes, I dropped my brake fluid cap inside my engine. What? You need to take my entire car apart? $1500 plus labor? Okay. What's that? Yes, I know I'm a mechanical weanie..."

I peered inside the engine with my flashlight (No kidding -- I almost dropped it). Nothing. I got down on my hands and knees. Yes, to pray, but also to look under the van. I crawled around for a few minutes, ran my hand under every nook and cranny, pleading for mercy.

Finally, at that moment, I felt something. The cat? No, the cap. I grabbed it. I climbed out and very carefully screwed it back on. The conquering hero. The relieved idiot.

I wondered later, Is the world conspired against me? Sometimes it feels that way, doesn't it? Little things turn into big things, and our weaknesses are attacked in ways that feel supernatural. The man who fears public speaking is put on the spot at the meeting. The woman who worries about her weight has a job interview with a fitness queen. The unathletic teenage girl is placed on the gym team with the super-competitive boys. The child who fears embarrassment spills his milk on his shorts. The man who can't fix anything renders his van useless by unscrewing a cap.

The world finds ways to make us feel small, to pick on us, to drop us into the engine, just before dark, and make us want to disappear.

The world is conspired against us. But it's no match for Jesus. He knows our weaknesses, and he really doesn't mind them at all. They are just opportunities for him to show us how much he loves us. He takes us by the hand. He fixes what we've broken. He doesn't embarrass us or demean us. He just says, "Hey, I've got this one. No big deal. Trust me. All will be well, child. Light bulbs replaced, small battles conquered, and hopes laid for greater things."

"In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”