Willis Finifrock, a turkey farmer-turned-furnace man from northern Minnesota, was explaining to me how the gears work in his giant fuel oil truck. Patiently and methodically, he showed me how he shifts from 1st gear to 2nd gear, then 2nd to 3rd, then 3rd to 4th … and, finally, from 12th to 13th gear. (He would have showed me all 97 gears if he had them.)
This was my first real pastoral visit at my first church—Barnum Community Church in Barnum, Minnesota, population 460. I was still finishing my last year of seminary in St. Paul, driving two hours straight north every Saturday to preach on Sunday, visit with folks on Monday, and then drive back home on Tuesday morning. Willis had invited me to join him on a Monday fuel oil pickup at 4:00 a.m. We went to the refinery, filled the tank, and then drove around on Highway 6, east of Barnum.
For most of the ride, the rig jostled me like a mechanical bull, but I enjoyed spending time with Willis, immersing myself in his world of gauges ...1