I Did Not See That Coming


I have moved from one house to another…a lot.  By my count, I have lived in 19 different houses, meaning I’ve moved 18 times in 56 years.  I consider myself a bit of an expert. Let me tell you a fun story about move number 16, a move that took my family from Alabama to Massachusetts.


Moving reality #1 is this: you always have more stuff than you think you have.  Related reality: your stuff expands to fill the size of your storage space. This is an immutable law of the universe.  So, when the time has come to box up and pack up my stuff for a move, I have never said: “Gee, we have less stuff than I thought.” Just the opposite.  It is some form of, “I can’t believe we have this much stuff.” So for this move, I decided we would need not only a 48-foot U-Haul truck, but also a 12-foot utility trailer, which I purchased new a day before our move.


As I drove the trailer home from the store, a tire went flat. This is never a good sign. Do not even get me started on the Martin “tire curse!”  I had to replace a tire on a brand new trailer! Maybe you know the routine: loosen the lug nuts, pull off the lug nuts, put on the new tire, put the lug nuts back on, tighten the lug nuts.  The next day, we loaded everything that would not fit in the truck on the trailer aaaaand we still had to leave some stuff behind. You can only imagine how much we piled on that trailer.


The next day, we left on our venture. I was driving the truck, my wife was driving a van with the kids, and my friend, Brad, was driving our Isuzu pickup, also piled high with stuff. Our first stop would be Chattanooga, about two hours away.  An hour or so into our trip, I had this innocent little thought cross my mind: Did I tighten those lug nuts after I replaced that tire on the trailer? I could not remember, but then I thought: I’ll check it when we get to Chattanooga. Another hour can’t hurt anything.  


I continued driving, tooling along at about 65 mph.  As planned, we stopped in Chattanooga for supper. I forgot about the tire entirely until we were getting ready to drive away again.  I climbed out of the vehicle to check the left tire’s lug bolts…more specifically, what was left of them. I was stunned.


I had NOT tightened those lug nuts!  In that “little” two hour drive, the lug nuts had worked themselves very loose, allowing the tire to jiggle on the lug bolts, an action which ground out the rim holes through which the lug bolts secured the tire to the axle.  The rim holes were actually larger now than the lug nuts. This is the simpler version. Nothing was securing the tire to the axle. Jack up the trailer, and the tire would have simply fallen off.


We were seconds from a disaster that could have taken out any vehicle following us, including the one driven by my wife.  And why? I was partly wrong.


I was mistaken and did not know it.  I did not know that loose lug nuts could loosen so quickly.  I did not know you could grind out tire rim holes to almost twice their original diameter.  I did not know that loose lug nuts could do so much damage in two hours that your tire could completely leave your vehicle. Now, I know.  I gained some vital new knowledge that day. I grew in my knowledge. In fact, that’s a big part of what growth is in almost every part of our lives.


Peter, the dear friend we met in our last chapter, made this interesting plea in the Bible:


But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.  2 Peter 3:18, NIV


Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord.  There is a passion in his words. Perhaps in this moment, he himself remembers his overconfidence about what he knew and the resulting attempt to correct Jesus.  Keep learning from Jesus, he implores. Let him correct your partly wrongs. Another Bible writer, the apostle Paul, had this word to say about growing:


For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, Colossians 1:9-10,NIV


Growing seems to be really important to God.  Keep growing. Never stop growing. Grow in grace. Grow in knowledge.  Add to your goodness, knowledge. The Apostle Paul prayed daily that his friends and new followers of Jesus would keep growing. As best I can see, there is no point at which God expects us to stop growing.


We need to grow.  All the time. Now, isn’t that just another way of saying that we are partly wrong?  All the time. Think about it. If we need to keep growing every single day, it means that every day we have wrong ideas and values and motives and behaviors and opinions that need to be changed.  People who are completely right, who have no wrong beliefs or motives or behaviors or values—they have no need to grow. But God says we all need to keep growing every single day. Conclusion: You and I are always partly wrong, always needing to grow in our knowledge.  We have mistaken ideas about God and life and people and wholeness that need to be changed, so God says “keep growing.”


“But Roger, maybe it’s just that our ideas are incomplete, not necessarily wrong.”  I wrestled with that idea myself, but I’m not sure “incomplete” and “wrong” are actually two different things.  Here’s what I mean. Where my information or knowledge is incomplete, I invariably fill the incomplete information with inaccurate ideas.  I’m not sure you can avoid this.


I had no idea that loose lug nuts could in two hours render a tire rim virtually useless, creating grave danger.  Because I didn’t know that reality, I substituted a fallacy: No significant damage or harm could be created in two hours. I actually thought that in my mind. My incomplete knowledge resulted in a wrong idea.   I didn’t know enough about lug nuts, which is another way of saying I was wrong about lug nuts.


I’m wrong about a lot of things.  And that is exactly why God says I need to keep growing. Every time I see the word “grow” in the Bible, it reminds me that I’m partly wrong.


I am Peter, and so are you. We are partly wrong, but God wants to incrementally correct the “partly wrongs.”  And while we are here on earth, we will always be growing. You will never meet someone who is right on everything.  That person would have no need to grow. You may meet people who think they’re right on everything, even the person you see in the mirror, but they are wrong.  Nobody gets to be completely right; we are all partly wrong all the time.


Partly wrong is a good thing because God uses it to grow us.  Do you believe that? It may take a while. The truth is, God has worked very hard to open my eyes to this reality.  I was not a quick learner, but some moments are more teachable than others. It is amazing how much God can teach you with a Sunfish sailboat and a storm.  

{Feature photo by  on Pixabay.com]


For each weekday of the month of July (and Aug. 1-3), I am blogging a chapter from my book, Partly Wrong, to be published this fall. This blog is chapter three. I welcome any feedback that will help to make it a better chapter.





  1. Debora Bailey

    Roger, I LOVE your lug nut story. It does not matter how often I hear it I always delight in it, because I see myself who often tries to ignore my quiet voice speaking truth to me.

    Today this thought zapped like a lightening bolt into my brain. FRICTION ERODES. Friction between those we live with and dearly love. And it is not soft edges slowly eroding, but those times metal against metal, unyielding thoughts, unyielding behavior that do the quickest and deepest abrasion. So, painful.

    As I read your post today, I wondered if it was from your book. I look forward to taking time to go back and read the previous days posts.

    So happy for you that you reached one of your goals!!!


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  2. Joy

    I think this book could easily be entitled, “God’s Protection and Grace to the Martin Family ” . Anyway …I think I’m pondering that incomplete /wrong thought…that grace in our not quite got it yet moments and giving others that same grace in their not quite got it yet moments.

    Idea: In that header picture with the title, Possiblle wording : Partly Wrong (Chapter 3) …chapter title next line as you have it.

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  3. Alicia Yost

    I never thought of it that way but I agree. I imagine that the need for growth will lead me to more humility because if I keep in mind that I’m partially wrong, I will hopefully remember that other people are partially right. And more importantly, that Fod is never wrong.

  4. Brenda Thompson

    Again, so relatable (oh, the stories I could tell — but I don’t tell them nearly as well!) 😉

    I also really like your parsing out of what it means to be “wrong” vs. “incomplete.”

    Just one minor suggestion/tweak:
    Early on, you use the phrase “The next day” to start two sentences that are rather close together. I might choose a different phrase the second time:

    “The next day, we loaded everything that would not fit in the truck on the trailer aaaaand we still had to leave some stuff behind. You can only imagine how much we piled on that trailer.

    The next day, we left on our venture.”

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