Saturday, July 1, 2017


July 1, 2017

Today’s exercise in frustration revolves around my motorcycle. It’s due for inspection, but the rear brakes have been marginal lately. Marginal as in pretty much non-functional. I’ve been eager to get at this job ever since I bought a handy-dandy brake gauge that measures the diameter of the drum, then transfers the info to the shoes. The factory travel setting for the shoes is .17 inches. Using a feeler gauge and this tool, adjusting the travel in the shoes is a cinch! Or so they said. One of the commercials for a certain automobile has a young man with a perpetual smile on his face, driving his newborn baby repeatedly around the block and through the neighborhood. The tag line is that “you’ll look for a reason to drive it.” Really? I’ve never seen anyone with a fussy baby in back grinning like a fool. As with elections, Reality is always somewhat different than the campaign. 

After boiling the shoes to remove any grease that might have soaked into the babbet, and adjusting the brake shoes to the recommended tolerances, I tried putting the wheel back on the bike. No dice. I re-measured and tried again. There was no way the drum was going to fit over the shoes. Finally, I tossed the gauge aside and used trial and error, backing off the adjusters a little at a time, till the wheel slipped peacefully over the drum. It only took about twelve times putting the wheel on, taking it off, adjusting the cam, putting it on, taking it off, adjusting the cam.

I haven’t yet road tested it. The sidecar brakes need to be matched to the drive wheel so when I hit the brakes, the bike doesn’t careen to the left. In traffic, that would not be a good idea. As I worked and sweat (I forgot to mention how humid it was; the sweat was pouring off my brow onto my glasses, making it so I had to wipe them down every couple minutes so I could see what I was doing), I thought of the Bible word “perseverance.” It’s not how well we start, but how we finish, that counts. St. Paul said, “I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” (1 Corinthians 9:27). He wanted to finish well, and did so, for near the end of his life, he wrote to Timothy, saying, “I have fought a good fight, have finished my course, I have kept the faith.” Too often, we quit before reaching the goal, never experiencing the satisfaction of having finished what we started, simply because the task is difficult. 

People often think of retirement as a time to take it easy. I’m taking things a bit more slowly than before, but taking it easy seems to me to be an abdication of the reason God put me here on earth. Doors are opening for ministry, and I’m ready to walk through them. It may take some trial and error, but one thing I know: I won’t quit. I’m thankful tonight for today’s practice in perseverance. I suspect it will come in handy in the days, weeks, and months to come.

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