By Joanie Butman

Did you ever stumble over a seemingly innocuous obstacle? Not an unusual occurrence on the road of life. Many of us get tripped up by these kind of subtle obstructions more often than the obvious roadblocks that force us to stop or change course. I happened on one this week while using my husband’s car. Though my driving skills are often the victim of ridicule in our home, I’ve always felt my family’s mocking was grossly exaggerated. Unfortunately, this recent snafu did nothing to dispel their lack of confidence in my driving ability. I’m dating myself here, but I could already hear my husband’s voice: “Joanie, you got some ‘splainin to do!”*


On my way to lunch with a friend, I pulled into a parking space without incident. When I went to leave, however, I couldn’t get the car to move in reverse. It felt as if I had the emergency brake on, which I did not. After a couple of attempts to back out, I got out of the car to investigate. Much to my dismay, I saw that I was dragging the cement parking block. Not only that, it had almost completely torn off the front bumper. It took a minute or two, and the help of two kind gentlemen, to dislodge the car. Assessing the damage, I knew this was going to be an expensive fix. The immediate problem at hand though was securing the bumper in a way so that it wouldn’t fly off during my trip home.

I drove to the closest hardware store for a quick fix. When I asked the clerk where I could find some string, he inquired as to what strength I needed. “Strong enough to hold a bumper on,” I replied. “Oh, you’re one of those!” was his immediate response. He went on to regale me with stories of female clients searching for quick remedies for car mishaps. One in particular was not interested in reparations but was planning to commit vehicular homicide. She was searching for a reciprocating saw to inflict damage on her ex-husband’s car! Who knew that working in a hardware store could be so entertaining?

My situation paled in comparison to some of his other clients. I retrieved the string and reattached the bumper securely enough for the trip home. So, where’s the spiritual lesson in all this, you might be wondering? All this talk about string made me think of Ecclesiastes 4:12, “A cord of three strands is not easily broken.“ I think it would behoove all of us to ask ourselves, “How strong is my string?” Do you often feel as if you are going through life held together with duct tape, pins, or string? Been there, done that. Don’t have time to hem? Duct tape works wonders. It is also a well-known means of ‘lift and support’ under certain dresses. Safety pins are miracle solutions for a multitude of issues. I’ve often gone into my day thinking: This is all smoke and mirrors. I hope I don’t get into an accident. People would discover what’s holding my fragile façade together.

Short cuts and quick fixes may work on bumpers and wardrobe issues, but they are woefully ineffective when it comes to spirituality. Here there is only one remedy – a hefty weighted string with an immeasurable MBR (minimum breaking strength.) There is only one source of this kind of might: DIVINE TWINE, and it’s readily available if we so choose - but not at your local hardware store. It can only be acquired by nurturing a strong relationship with a Divine power interlaced with the fellowship of other believers.

We all get our carefully constructed bumpers ripped off occasionally as we travel through life. It would be wise to choose to keep your cord of three strands strong to help you when you feel like you are dragging a concrete barrier behind you. With your lifeline intact, you can experience joy in its truest form, regardless of your circumstances.




*Catchphrase associated with the TV show I Love Lucy (1951-1957).  Today, saying a person or entity “has some ‘splainin’ to do” is a humorous way of suggesting that they have done (or may have done) something stupid, hypocritical, illegal or otherwise embarrassing.