Tuesday, October 15, 2019

For Want of a Nail ...

Go to the Case parts counter.
Do not run into the library.
Do not go into Smith's Market.
Do not pass "Go!"
Do not collect $200. (In reality, leave some money behind. "Would you like to put that on your Case charge account?")
Come right back to the farm shop.

In the last few weeks, I've had plenty of time to think as I've run to Hutchinson or Pratt or Partridge for parts or seed wheat or some other last-minute errand or contemplated the futility of another trip to Sylvia to coax cattle back to their pasture yet again.

And a quote by Benjamin Franklin came to mind. I couldn't remember it exactly, so I Googled it (of course):

For the want of a nail, the shoe was lost.
For the want of a shoe, the horse was lost.
For the want of a horse, the rider was lost.
For the want of a rider, the battle was lost.
For the want of a battle, the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

The same could be said of $20 bolts: For want of a $20 bolt, the multi-thousand-dollar combine was immobile ... until said bolt was duly installed.
It's true for $20 bolts. But most of all, it's true for people.

Sometimes, we may not see our significance. We aren't a big name on a corporate letterhead. There's no gold-plated nameplate on a desk. There may not even be a desk. You may do what you do without a paycheck. Our own agenda may be superseded by a more pressing need.
The welcoming committee: Bulls butting heads.
Sometimes, we "butt heads" when we're more concerned about our own importance than our role as team players.

We're just "a cog in the machine," which is, by definition, "someone who has only a small role in a company or institution, someone who is insignificant."

It's easy to take things for granted. We enjoy Oktoberfest and don't thank the people who went to committee meetings for a year so the rest of us could enjoy a small-town festival. We complain to our city leaders or our school board members instead of appreciating their sense of civic pride and the time they spend to make our communities better. The list is endless for people who serve quietly and without fanfare.
But that $20 bolt should remind me that even the smallest thing has a great deal of significance. In reality, if a cog doesn't work correctly, the entire machine may fail. (Our combine and tractors remind me of this continually.)

A few years ago during a Bible study, someone used the redwoods as an illustration for living life in community.
Muir Woods, California
Most trees have a root system that grows deep into the earth to anchor the tree and feed it. That's not how redwoods grow. Instead, they integrate their roots with other redwoods close to the top of the earth. This integration, or intertwining, of roots helps all the redwood trees stay together and live a long and healthy life. 
Sunlight through the redwoods, Muir Woods, California
I've only seen the redwoods once in my life on a trip to the Muir Woods near San Francisco, and they definitely made an impression. But I have symbols of this interdependency just down the road. Randy should get done planting our 2020 wheat crop this week. When you think about it, wheat is a pretty amazing plant, too.
You plant a kernel of wheat. And through a process called tillering, that one kernel becomes many. "Tillering" refers to the production of side shoots, enabling that original, initial, single seedling to produce multiple stems or tillers. When the right amount of moisture, nutrients and light come together, that single kernel of wheat produces a bountiful harvest.
Too often in our busy lives, we forget the importance of our small contributions. But, in reality, our small part may be the thing that keeps the whole "machine" we call life moving ahead.
We, too, need to bloom where we're planted. We, like wheat, can "tiller" and branch out to make a difference.
 Ecclesiastes 4: 9-12, NIV
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: 10 If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. 11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? 12 Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
Even though we sometimes forget it when we're feeling insignificant, being a "cog in the wheel" or that $20 bolt that helps the whole machine run is pretty valuable after all.


  1. Love this post Kim! So true and full of grace. I will never look at a redwood tree same again, I will see an example for how we should be as people and followers of Jesus.



    1. Thank you, Dee! I'm sorry I'm so slow seeing this comment. I appreciate your taking time to connect!