I learned the ‘squeaky wheel’ method from my red-headed toddler who, without any special training, was a pro. He picked his moments with deft timing— a busy grocery store, a crowded airplane, or what seemed to be his favorite, during worship. After Ian was diagnosed with his rare medical condition, as a desperate and overwhelmed young mom, I had plenty of opportunity to practice this method myself. Now as his guardian, I’ve used the method so many times that many would consider me an expert. Want some grease? Squeak until you get grease.
For no extra charge, here are my favorite strategies.
1. Never accept no for an answer.
2. Escalate, escalate, escalate
3. Make sure they see your heart. Even bureaucrats are human.
4. Kill ‘em with kindness.
5. Never burn a bridge; you may need them later.
Ian’s part-time job creating art with kids each afternoon has been both crucial and wonderful. In spite of the meager paycheck, he feels valued. More practically, it gives him a reason to get out of bed. He comes home exhausted but exuberant with kid stories and he’s painting more and grumbling less. But… I’ve been warned. His job coaching support will end March 10th. Without it, boots on the ground caution me, it’s just a matter of time before Ian will fall on his sword.
“I’m sure there are other resources that Ian qualifies for,” his employer suggests. “Perhaps this isn’t the right job for him,” his medicaid case manager offers. So….for the past month I’ve been entrenched in a squeaky wheel effort that has taken me to infinity and beyond. I’ve been on hold for days, spoken to a million people, squeaked like never before, and still I see no path to victory. March 10th looms.
The Parable of the Persistent Widow
In Luke 18:1-8, Jesus tells a parable about another squeaky wheel. This desperate and powerless widow has a legal matter and the judge of the city “who neither feared God nor cared about people” ignores her. But she persists. In fact, she’s relentless. She comes back again, and again, and again, and again, and again. Her persistence becomes so annoying that the judge, who doesn’t care about her or upholding justice, is desperate for relief for himself. He applies the law (grease) and the widow (squeaky wheel) is vindicated (silenced).
So what should we conclude? Annoy those decision-makers to eventually get our way? The text provides some clues.
Luke 18:1 Jesus told his disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up.
Luke 18: 6,7 Then the Lord said, “Learn a lesson from this unjust judge. 7 Even he rendered a just decision in the end. So don’t you think God will surely give justice to his chosen people who cry out to him day and night?”
With this parable tucked in my mind, I went for a long walk. Instead of my norm of listening to my book, I prayed.
“Dear Jesus, You know how much time and energy I’ve expended on this quest. I’ve prayed. Direct me to the right person; help me to think outside the box. I’ve hit dead end after dead end, but I persist. Forgive me for being frustrated by Your silence and for not persisting in prayer to the same degree I persist in this hunt. I know You hear me and see me and care about even this. So I’ll keep at it, trusting that You’ll redirect me if necessary. But Lord, You know this because You know everything…deep in my gut I still feel as if I’m missing something.
After praying that prayer, I walked in silence hoping to hear a word from Him. I sensed His presence and my frustration was gone, but I heard nothing specific. When I got home though, I opened my journal and began to write. The floodgate opened in such a way that I had no doubt it was not from me.
That’s how prayer works.
The Lord’s Word For Me
Debbie, I love you. I created you. That bulldog trait that you are ashamed of was My design. Just as I empowered the desperate widow, I’ve empowered you. I’ve used tough circumstances to strengthen your tenacity and that was My doing, too. I am sovereign and see your faithful effort. But don’t miss this. What has felt like a wild goose chase has drawn you nearer to Me. I never want you to lose heart, but I allow challenges because that’s what I use to mold you and make you. I waste nothing. Continue to stay close and trust Me.
That SAME afternoon I got a shocking phone call from DVR, the provider of job coaching support. Monica the supervisor who was both my first adamant ‘no’ and the initiator of my frantic quest, called to explain. Because of her oversight, the paperwork to terminate Ian’s resources didn’t happen properly. She asked that I please accept her apology, but Ian’s job coaching must continue for now.
Stunned, I hung up the phone and laughed and then I cried.
That’s how God works.
For His Glory, Debbie Hucke