I thought that nothing could top the skunk story from last week but, alas, this past week something did. In the name of “downsizing” my bride and I have sold our home and are currently in a rental situation. The home we are renting is quite nice, but it is, well, old. We are continually thanking God for His marvelous provision in our lives and this home is no exception to that prayer of thanksgiving.
But the other night I was not feeling too thankful. The digital clock next to our bed read 1:29 a.m. My bride had gone to the bathroom and found it flooded – with what seemed to be at first appearance raw sewage. She awakened me gently (yeah, right) and together we assessed the situation.
The best way I can describe it was that the house seemed to have indigestion. Have you ever had such a bad case of indigestion that every orifice in your body seemed to protest? You know, your stomach is growling and you end up burping and belching the many-faceted and, I might add, sour-tasting flavors from the last three meals you have had? And your lower end seems to erupt with the runs? Well, that was exactly what was going on in our home. Every sink in the house was gurgling, like a belching stomach. Every few seconds the whole house would erupt with a giant – barrummph. And the shower was exhibiting a very bad case of diarrhea. The whole house seemed to be coming apart at the seams.
After I awoke – and that did not take too long – my wife began to mop up the overflow from the shower on the bathroom floor, and as she repeatedly filled the trash can, then another bucket which we grabbed, I took them out to the back yard and distributed the waste there. I mean, it was not like you could flush it down the toilet, could you?
At one point the overflow seemed to be ebbing, but the gurgling was still going on, so I decided to call the landlord about the problem – even though it was almost 2 a.m. She then began to look for 24-hour plumbing services and found one (which will remain nameless), that in their response to her told her they could have someone come to the home to repair whatever the problem was at 9 a.m. They had advertised that they would be available 24 hours every day and seven days a week. Those criteria fit our situation to a tee.
The house continued to protest the indigestion for another two hours, but finally, almost as suddenly as it had come, stopped. We were able to get a couple of hours sleep after that, although it was never what I would call a deep sleep as I felt that almost at any time it would be starting up again.
Now for those who regularly read these articles, you are probably asking, “What spiritual principle is he going to get out of this?” That is a great question and one which I have been pondering ever since it happened. There are actually several principles which I derive from this incident:
(1) Normally, when tragic or traumatic events happen, the very first thing to come out of our thinking, and all-too-often out of our mouths, is “Who is to blame?” Whose fault is this fiasco? When tragedy strikes a family, oftentimes they look to God as the culprit and blame Him. Much like Job, in the Bible, who lost everything in one or two fell swoops, these individuals are tempted to and encouraged to curse God and die. The one thing we came away with is that this is not the case in our situation. This incident may have occurred because some previous resident was careless or unconcerned about what they flushed down the toilets, but ultimately the situation was no one’s fault – not ours’, not the landlord’s, not the previous landlord’s or even the previous residents. It just happened. And the lesson to be learned from that is simply that God wants us to learn to be patient, to trust Him even at 2 a.m., and to enjoy the ride upon which He is taking us.
(2) That leads to the second thought for this incident which is that even in the most dire of circumstances, God calls us to rejoice. We have to laugh when these things happen, most often because there is nothing else to do except cry, and that does not help.
I cannot help but be reminded of the words of the Apostle Paul, when he was in prison in Rome, awaiting a trial at some unknown future time – he did not know how long he would be in prison. His words were simply, “Rejoice in the Lord. Again, I say, rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4). Over and over again in the Scriptures, when we are faced with trials, God tells us to rejoice. Why? Because we who are Christ-followers in the real world say we want to be just like Christ. We say we want to develop in our lives and in our character the sense of Christlikeness. Well, if that is the case, one look at the life of Christ demonstrates a life of suffering and rejection. Dealing with a house with “indigestion” is a whole lot easier than dying on a cross for the sins of the world.
The bottom line is this: God allows us to go through whatever we go through so that we will learn to be patient with Him and His plan for our lives, and so that we will rejoice as we go through it. Whether it’s a house with indigestion, or a broken ankle, or the loss of a job, or sickness, or even death of a loved one, realize God is working to make you and I more and more just like Jesus each and every day.
Chuck Tabor is a religion columnist for The Times-Gazette. He also serves as pastor of Port William UMC.