Chuck the Chicago Mechanic

The following encounter is true… it happened in Chicago at a repair shop in the 1990’s. The repair shop wasn’t Chuck’s and wasn’t named after him. He just worked there… 

Here’s a teaser: this is the start of my Easter Message this weekend… what do you think the point is?

Chuck the Mechanic

car on lift

I’ve got to tell you the story of Chuck, the car mechanic. Some time ago my car needed a brake job. This was when I lived in Chicago. So I brought my car in, and they took it right away, put it up in the air, and started working on my car. I struck up a conversation with a very interesting mechanic named Chuck.

Chuck was a guy’s guy. He was tough. He was smart. He was completely rough around the edges. Meaning he was a typical, blue-collar tough guy.

The only thing that Chuck knew about me was that my car needed brakes… actually it needed to have the wheel cylinders rebuilt. So Chuck felt all kinds of freedom to say all kinds of things to me, because to him, I was just another normal guy just like him.

He had a really colorful vocabulary. I had to look this up, because I remember enough from math class that there are three kinds of averages: mean, median, and mode. And mode is the one that occurs most frequently… The average–the mode–length of Chuck’s choice of words was four letters. Four letters was clearly the modal average.


Plus, Chuck had just come off a very busy weekend. Which he was dying to share with someone. Even a stranger–one that he didn’t know was a servant of a holy, almighty God. Poor, poor Chuck.

I’ll just say that he didn’t spend his weekend sober, and he didn’t spend it alone. And of all the people on earth, he chose ME to tell his story to. He was funny. He was honest. He was real. Chuck would never be the poster boy for the Boy Scouts.

So he’s talking. He’s working on my car. I’m listening. I’m connecting. And I’m just building a bridge to a mechanic named Chuck.

Finally after a half an hour of Chuck doing almost all the talking, he took a breath. And he asked me the fateful question.

My wife’s an attorney. And one of the things she’s taught me is a rule that every attorney knows: never ask a witness a question that you don’t know that answer to.
Chuck should have taken her advice. Chuck asked me…

“So… what do you do?”

I just smiled. He looked a little puzzled, and asked again: “What?”

I said, “Chuck, you don’t want to know.” I just stood there. And you gotta understand, I wasn’t dressed up. I was in jeans and a t-shirt and a Chicago Cubs baseball cap. I didn’t have a priest’s collar on, or a halo, or anything. “Chuck, you don’t want to know.”

Chuck looked at me. He thought for a minute. And suddenly it hit him like Brian Urlacher on Tinkerbell.

And I didn’t have to say a single word…


If you want the rest of the story, see ya at Easter Services (or you can watch and listen online… click the link in the header bar above. They usually post my messages by Wednesday)…

All our regular times and places… click here for the schedule and directions.

Christ is Risen!


One thought on “Chuck the Chicago Mechanic

  1. Hey Pastor Bill,
    Our family took an extended vacation while the boys were out of school so we missed your last sermon. When we returned I had so many people come to me and tell me how awesome your sermon was….maybe it was out of the ordinary for an Easter service….but I think that’s what we all love about your style! I want to tell you about one gal that spoke with me…’s an encouragement to me and will be to you as well.
    Several months ago I had invited an acquaintance (now a friend) to “try us out”. We belong to the same gym and that’s all we really knew of each other. Amazing how God can use us no matter how ugly or smelly we are. Anyhow, she eventually came to church and to Bible Study!! I put her in my group because she didn’t know anyone which was another way for us to stay connected. She has been loved and accepted by each lady….young and old in that group. She’s hooked….does that sound right? Well, her husband is not saved, as a matter of fact he’s quite the stinker about the whole “Christian thing” and gives her a hard time. HE CAME TO HEAR YOU ON SUNDAY WITH HIS FAMILY BY HIS OWN WILL!!! I know that along with him there were many others that just needed to come hear a lighthearted, humerous pastor teaching about Jesus and us normal people. My friend’s level of hope for her husband’s salvation has been elevated and I want to thank you for carrying out what the Lord wants all of us to hear! Our family has been blessed by your teachings and we thank the Lord for using you to stretch us…..and we have been stretched! I’m especially thankful because my husband who came to know the Lord less than 10 years ago has always struggled to be firmly planted! Through endless prayer and your constant encouragement, he is reading the Bible In A Year on line with you. THAT’S HUGE! And I see fruit!
    Thank you for your love and dedication to this huge flock that we are privilaged to be part of!!
    Stephanie Baker

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