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“SHEAR PIN OF THE SPIRIT” – May 14

May 14, 2013

“But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak.” 1 Corinthians 8:9

I had a typical farming weekend.  I spent more time working on equipment than working with equipment.

English: Cider orchards east of Hereford 1 The...I had great plans for the weekend.  The weather has turned wonderfully warm, even hot.  The weeds of our acreage are enjoying this turn in weather just as much as I am and have shot up to meet the sun.  The result of all this vegetative growth has turned our driveway into a gravelled channel cutting through an irregular sea of flowing green.  My intention was to tame these weeds so that it appears someone actually lives at our home.  I started to back up the tractor to the brush-hog mower and  attach the drive-line to the tractor power take off (PTO).  That was when my memory was revived; humph.

At the end of last year, I had driven over something that was not inclined to be mowed.  I had not thought much about the loud bang and irregular jerk from the mower.  Just a rock, I thought, and I kept mowing until I realized that I was not really mowing.  I was just driving through a field.  I discovered that whatever I had hit had snapped the shear pin on the mower.

There is a bolt that connects the drive-line from the tractor to the mower gearbox.  The purpose of this bolt is to break.  It is to break before something more expensive breaks.   There is a lot of force contained in the spinning momentum of mower blades.  That force has to go somewhere when it collides with the immovable.  It could easily tear apart my mower if it were contained.  So, the designers of my mower gave that force a place to go in the form of a bolt.  All the forces are allowed to spin free once that bolt is broken.

The replacement of a shear pin is not a hard task if you have a shear pin.  I did not have one at the end of last year and I was mostly done mowing so I parked the mower and forgot about it.  I no longer had the luxury of neglect so I went to my garage in search of a bolt.  I searched and searched but could not find the right bolt, in diameter and length.  I finally found  a little guy of a bolt.  He sort of slopped about in the shear pin hole of the mower but I figured he would have to do.  The problem was that he was way too long.  I cut off the bolt to an approximate length, cleaned the ends on the grinder and marched out to the mower.  After banging all the pieces into alignment, I slipped my newly formed bolt into place only to discover it was a smidgen too short; ugh.

Back to the workshop I went to prepare a new, longer bolt.  More cutting, more grinding and soon I was back on top of the mower with my longer bolt and the associated washers and lock-nuts.  After a significantly longer amount of time than I had anticipated, I was ready to go.  My new bolt was all tightened in place and ready to slay some weeds.  I thought I would give my handy-work a test, so I pulled the tractor forward and engaged the drive-train.  The PTO whirled but the mower did not shutter to life.  I killed the power and went to investigate.  My handy work proved to be not very handy.  Apparently, the hole for the shear pin is not a suggestion.  It is more like a requirement.  When the power was transferred from the tractor to the mower, the shear pin sheared immediately.  It was not strong enough; Grrrr!

I was not going to be defeated.  So, I loaded the kids into the pick-up and we headed into town to get a bolt, among other things.  Two hours later with my Saturday quickly evaporating, I was back on top of my mower, tightening my new large bolt into place.  I now had a ½” diameter bolt, 3-1/2” in length, with a locking washer and a lock nut.  I was ready and my test of the mower proved it.  The mower vibrated to life as I slowly released the clutch on the tractor and power cascaded into spinning motion of metal blades.

I figured that I would clean up the edges of the driveway first.  I aligned the tractor and lowered the mower into place; turned on my ipod; selected a gear; let the clutch out and I was mowing.  The weeds had encroached rather considerably into the gravel base of our driveway so my first pass was to get our driveway back to its normal width.  I decided to lower the mower a bit since the weeds still look shaggy where I had passed.  A moment after I tapped the hydraulics, the tractor jerked and I heard a loud explosion type of noise.  I spun in the seat to see the back of the mower flopping back down to the ground and the drive-line freed like an unrestrained fire hose.  I had hit a rock; a big rock hidden in the weeds.  The mower blade hit the rock with such force that it split the six inch piece of granite into two three inch pieces of granite.  The really unfortunate part was that the force also split my new bolt in pieces.  My shear pin had once again sheared.  I was done because I had only bought one bolt.  Arrrghhhh!

I considered my options as I cooled myself in the shade of our front porch with a glass of ice water in my hand.  I could get a higher-strength bolt.  I could get a more rigid connection.  I could weld it.  All of those were bad ideas because the bolt had actually done what it was designed to do.  My intention is not to mow rocks.  I don’t want to contain forces that are beyond the shear strength of a ½ inch bolt.

I just needed to get more bolts.

This frustrating experience caused me to think about the work of the Holy Spirit in my life.  It seems like much of the Spirit’s work serves as shear pins of sorts. The Spirit guides us in order that we stay on purpose but out of troublesome boughs.  I wonder how many times when I feel like something has snapped and the power evaporated that it has been the Spirit keeping me from something that could do real damage to my soul.

A good understanding of scripture and a meaningful prayer life are the shear pins of the Spirit’s work in our lives.  I have seen a misapplication of scripture get people in all sorts of trouble.  On the one side, there are some who have interpreted scripture in a manner that they have to isolate themselves from the world.  They have applied a very weak shear pin.  Their approach to life snaps when there is no real danger to their soul.  They have a very difficult time accomplishing anything because just engaging God’s power in their life will snap the defaults that they have created.

There are others who have gone to the other extreme.  They have inserted a shear pin that has numbed the restraining work of the Spirit in their lives.  They can do anything and accept anything because there is nothing that can snap their philosophical underpinnings.

The selection of the right spiritual shear pins in every Christians life is the work of the Spirit.  We have a tremendous amount of freedom in Christ.  There are some activities that may be sinful for one brother or sister and not for another.  These are the shear pins that the Spirit has given us to protect us and make us effective.  I cannot tell anyone what their appropriate shear pin is.

However, we should consider what boundaries we have set and why.  We should have strong scriptural reasons, confirmed through our spirit in prayer, for what we do and don’t do.  The hole that God has given in our lives for the application of His word is a specific size, for a specific purpose.  It is not too small or too big.  It is just the right size for where we are right now.  We just need to be intentional, through seeking the Lord, in the application of the Word of God in our lives.

The Word of God has been given to teach us and protect us.  May we choose our shear pins, wisely.

PRAYER: Father, I thank you for your Word.  Thank you for your Spirit.  Thank you for guiding me and teaching me.  Father, show me the boundaries that are appropriate for me.   Give me the appropriate boundaries and checks in my life to keep me fully engaged with you.  Lord, I want to follow you, whole heartedly in the full power of your Spirit.  Show me the right shear pins for my life.   I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ.   Amen.

4 comments

  1. The problem with mowing over big rocks is that when they split, they tend to fly off in all directions, and you don’t know who or what they’ll hit. It’s a bit like what happens when we don’t listen to the Spirit’s promptings; there’s no knowing where it will lead – except that the outcome is sure to be painful…for someone.


  2. Like your writing style, I mean, the way you start talking about earthly things, and then make the connection with the divine and the word of God. Brilliant! God bless!


  3. Dude. This is brilliant. God is brillianter and the Holy Spirit…is brilliantest! Blessed!


  4. It is so important that we stay in touch with the Holy Spirit, so that we do not “overdo” our liberties.



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