“The squeaky wheel gets the grease, Omar!” I heard my father chastise me over a problem that I consistently worried about until the problem became so unmanageable, I had no choice but to tell my father way after the fact.
I had had a problem with one of the wheels on my bike being wobbly, and I didn’t know how to fix it . . . so like every prideful, self-sufficient little boy, I waited and worried and waited and worried . . . until the wheel became so wobbly and unbalanced it was becoming dangerous for me to ride down the road. Cue my father.
When he saw the problem, he immediately called me over, put his big fatherly arm around me, looked me in the eye, and said in his most serious but loving tone, “Omar, why didn’t you come to me with this earlier? Don’t you know that your wheel could have come off, and you really could have been hurt? Remember, Omar, the squeaky wheel gets the grease!”
In other words, my father would have been more than happy to solve my problem before my wheel came off had I only had faith in him and come to him and not tried to solve it by myself. Thanks Dad, lesson learned.
Fast-forward many years later. Several years ago my wife wakes me up around 5:15 in the morning and frantically says to me, “I’m sorry to wake you, but I think there’s a snake in the living room fireplace!”
Now, I’m a father of two kids, and their room is right off the living room. So you can bet I didn’t go back to sleep. I addressed the problem right away! I got up with my trusty stick, and, sure enough, in the living room fireplace, there was a loud hissing sound followed by what sounded like a lot of teeny little beeping fire alarms. Well, I did what any red-blooded American father would have done to protect his family . . . I pushed something large up against the fireplace door and told my wife to call the pest removal people.
Well, I’m glad my smart wife didn’t listen to me, but instead recorded the sound and immediately began doing Internet research. What she found was very interesting: we had a family of birds called Chimney Swifts living in our chimney. She gladly informed me that as loud as they were—and they were loud—they would likely be gone within the next two weeks. I was absolutely amazed at the sounds that came from the chimney and fireplace. Apparently our chimney acted like a great big amplifier, and the fireplace was like the speaker. For the next two weeks or so my family got to experience the wonder of hearing a parent bird fly down into the chimney. The moment that happened, all the baby birds would start their racket, and it was loud! As soon as they’d been fed, they stopped making sounds. Every once in a while a baby bird would fall out of the nest, and we would hear it flopping and flapping about, but within one to two seconds came the fervent shrill of their chirping, letting the parent know they needed help. Immediately we would hear the parent swoop in—literally—to save the day. That experience got me to thinking about this: If babies and animals understand and obey this principle of the squeaky wheel, why do we as human grown people have such a hard time with it? Are we such stubborn knuckleheads that we have to wait until the “wheels come off” in our lives and we hurt ourselves before we call on God?
Well, lucky for us, God has yet again provided an interesting story for us in the Bible to learn from. It’s found in Matthew 20:29-34 and it’s the account of Jesus healing two blind men.
Jesus was followed by a large crowd as he and his disciples were leaving Jericho. Two blind men were sitting beside the road. And when they heard that Jesus was coming their way, they shouted, ‘Lord and Son of David, have pity on us!’ The crowd told them to be quiet, but they shouted even louder, ‘Lord and Son of David, have pity on us!’ When Jesus heard them, he stopped and asked, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ They answered, ‘Lord, we want to see!’ Jesus felt sorry for them and touched their eyes. Right away they could see, and they became his followers (Contemporary English Version).
I think this is an interesting story, and there’s a reason it was included in the Bible: to teach us to be the squeaky wheel. There were three things that the blind men did right:
1. They knew they were blind and needed to be healed. You might think, well of course they knew they were blind, but there are many people today who don’t know they’re spiritually blind. A lot of people today think they’re just fine. In fact, Jesus called many of the religious leaders of His day “blind guides” (see Matthew 23:16). The Bible tells us that “all of us have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory” (Romans 3:23) and Jesus reminds us in Revelation 3:17 that we shouldn’t presume to think we’re OK when actually we’re not. I hope that you’re not one of those people.
2. They came to the only source they knew could heal their blindness. They didn’t call after the disciples or the large crowds that were following Jesus…or surprisingly, not even the religious leaders--who were likely listening to Jesus’ teaching. No, they called out to Jesus. In another instance, after a great number of Jesus’ disciples deserted Him after He was honest about the trials and difficulties that they would face, Jesus turned to his core group of 12 disciples and asked them if they were going to leave as well “Simon Peter answered, ‘Lord, there is no one else that we can go to! Your words give eternal life. We have faith in you, and we are sure that you are God’s Holy One’ ” (John 6:68, 69). Where are you going to get your healing? From a relationship, religion, work, food, porn, stuff, drugs? There’s only one source to get the healing you need, and that’s Jesus.
3. The two blind men began to shout even louder when the crowd told them to be quiet. They were going to be sure that they got Jesus’ attention. They wanted to be the squeaky wheels, and it worked. Jesus healed them. They didn’t allow anyone or anything to take their focus off of getting healed. Many times our busy lives, our friends, our family, the devil, and even total strangers can take our focus off of following after Jesus. We must persist and stay focused on Jesus. But Jesus Himself said that we can be focused only on one thing. I remember an old Japanese proverb my karate teacher used to tell me about staying focused: “The eagle that focuses on the rabbit and the squirrel catches neither.” (Usually it was followed by some sort of painful blow to the body—because I wasn’t focusing.) Jesus speaking to others had the same idea (without the painful body blows): “If any of you want to be my followers, you must forget about yourself. You must take up your cross each day and follow me” (Luke 9:23). To follow Jesus, we must deny everything that takes our focus off of Jesus.
In your life don’t wait until things get so bad that it appears hopelessly hopeless. Call on Jesus today—right now! Come to Him first with whatever your problems are. No problem is too big or too small for Jesus. Be the squeaky wheel and I promise: Jesus Himself, the balm of Gilead, will be there to soothe and silence the squeak.