The Day My Dad was Almost a Burglar

Have you ever felt great frustration because your hard work and service weren’t producing the expected results?

My daughter was babysitting on the other end of town one night when she called to let me know she’d locked her keys in her car – BOTH sets!

I suggested she call the road service, but she thought of my father. As the local fire chief, Dad kept a variety of tools in his car trunk specifically for getting into locked vehicles in case of emergencies. She called, and he agreed to come. “I know right where you’re babysitting. I’m on my way over,” he said.

Twenty minutes later, I received a text from her. “Mom, I called Papa to ask where he was, and he said he’s working on my car – except, he’s not. What do I do?”

I experienced an intense moment of dread. I texted back. “Call him right now.”

She did call him and their conversation went like this:

“Papa, where are you?”

“Right out in the driveway working on your car. Why haven’t you turned on the light?”

“The light is on. I’m looking at my car right now. You’re not working on it, Papa.”

“Whose car AM I working on?”

At that, my well-intentioned, but geographically-mistaken father rapidly withdrew his car-unlocking tool from the stranger’s vehicle, hopped back into his well-marked fire chief car, and made a hasty exit out of the wrong driveway several streets away from where my daughter waited.

There’s great value in hard work. Also, value in the desire to serve God and others. But, we must be working in the light and have the proper direction for our efforts to pay off. The same effort, skill, and intent – misdirected and employed in the dark – can even be considered criminal.

When I was a little girl, I was notoriously impatient. More than once, an adult would come upon me yanking at a stuck zipper, slamming against a door that wouldn’t budge, or hammering at a jar. That’s when I’d hear words that serve me well to this day “Lori Ann! Stop what you’re doing. Look at the situation. Think for a minute. Then try again.”

God replies the same way when I complain that all my spiritual efforts aren’t budging a thing: Lori, stop what you’re doing. Take a minute. Look at the situation with me. Reflect.

There is value in great effort, but many of us lose track of God’s voice or His direction and wind up investing great effort in the wrong direction. God’s firm and calming message comes through His Word to us, as it has to generations before:

“Now, therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways. You have sown much, and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes. “Thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways.” Haggai 1:5-7

James says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.” James 1:5-6

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6

“Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

Is it dark where you’re working? Are you frustrated and weary wondering where are the results? Stop for a minute. Breathe. Reflect on your efforts with God. Ask Him to turn on the light. Maybe you’re in the wrong driveway.

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    The Conversation

  1. Joyce says:

    Of all your posts that I’ve read over the past 3 years I think this one is my favorite! So far.

  2. I’ve given alot of thought to this: that we can work really hard, with really good motives, but in the wrong direction or on the wrong thing. Then it’s not God-glorifying. This is a fantastic example and some wise words. Thank you for writing it!

  3. Nancy K. Sullivan says:

    I can definitely relate, Lori. Great words to live by from your dad. And from our Heavenly Father.