Jesus Nut

Hey, it’s me! My name is Matt. I work here, although you probably haven’t seen me for a while. My job took a wild left turn in recent weeks as our shift to online worship accelerated a lot faster than I think any of us were really comfortable with. I’ve spent my time on Sunday mornings behind the camera with James Henderson and Katherine Nolan as we’ve learned together exactly what we are capable of when it comes to online worship. It’s been a stimulating challenge that has given us space to flex a different set of muscles. It reminds me when my buddy Ben used to say, “God doesn’t call those who are equipped, God equips those who are called.” I guess it was only just now that I realized he was referencing 1 Corinthians 27-29.

I mean, this stuff falls right in my wheelhouse. I can see and conceptualize seemingly disparate details and phenomena and wrap them up in a way that makes sense…It makes me a great hands-on learner which is great for building a plane while you’re trying to fly it.

But of course, that’s not the whole picture.

On the first day of quarantine, I thought to myself, “Ok so spring break is going to be a little longer than we thought…” That next Friday, I cleaned the garage, organized all my tools, finished all the laundry, did all the dishes, and still had time to watch four episodes of Tiger King.

That was either 3 or 42 weeks ago. Everything right now feels like I’m Kate McCallister sitting on that plane thinking… “I have a terrible feeling…that I didn’t do something.”

I hate that feeling. It makes me uncomfortable and zaps my confidence. I mean…my greatest strengths are Connectedness and Adaptability, so you’d think that no one would be more excited about the Summer of Spontaneity than me, but I have these moments (and they’re getting more frequent) where the extreme lack of structure…working at home, blurring lines between work and family, family and school…is really starting to wear me down.

In astrophysics the observable universe to us is light from all the stars that we can see…some of that light has been traveling to meet us for millions and millions of years. Somewhere in the sky, there’s a star that’s exactly as many light years away as you are years/months/days old. So when you look up at the sky, the light that enters your eye from that star at that moment was sent to you from that star on the day you were born. The unobservable universe is made up of all the stars and galaxies that are so far away, their light hasn’t had enough time to reach us yet–some estimates say the observable universe is roughly 46 Billion light years in diameter. I said all of that to say this…I feel like my observable universe has shrunk–I’m not working months and weeks into the future…I’m days, hours, and minutes into the future and that’s a little too narrow even for me…and it makes me a crabby person to be around.

In this moment I’m reminded that my gifts act very differently in times of stress than when I’m really in the zone and no amount of keeping it together is going to keep it all together, and the truth is that I haven’t kept it all together really, and it’s hard for me to come to grips with the fact that that’s supposedly ok.

I taught a lot of youth group lessons in my youth ministry days. One that I’ve kept with me, but haven’t turned to in a while is my Jesus nut. It’s a little hex nut that I keep on my keyring and I fidget with it daily. It’s a symbol of a Jesus nut on a helicopter. The Jesus nut is technically called a mast nut, or retaining nut. Its function is to make sure the rotors stay on the helicopter, particularly while it’s flying. Maybe in this time of wrestling with not doing a perfect job of keeping it all together, it’s the reminder I need that I am not the one who keeps it all together in the first place.

From later in 1 Corinthians 1:
But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, so that no one might boast in the presence of God. He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption, in order that, as it is written, ‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.’

Rev. Matt Ybañez

One Comment Add yours

  1. Linda Brothers says:

    So powerful, Matt-thanks for your honesty and transparency! FUMC is such a special sanctuary for so many and you are such a great “nut” making it work.


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