Last week I wrote about the many ways God was gracious to us on our California adventure. Even through I wrote more than usual, there was no way to fit everything in. It was truly a trip to remember, and I’m very, very thankful.
Eventually you have to come home. We finally walked through the door at midnight, Tuesday night. We dragged our bags up the stairs, ran through a quick shower, and crawled into our own bed. Coming home can be pretty nice.
It wasn’t until morning that we discovered God’s next “blessing”—the kind of blessing you have to examine closely before you see the good part.
Heading downstairs with my arms full of laundry, I noticed the carpet to the guest room was kind of wet. No problem, I thought, the students we’re housing must have just walked in wet from the shower.
Then I went into the laundry room. Ewwwwwwww!!!!!!!! Black sludge covered the floor, oozed across the door jamb, and burbled into the hallway. The throw rug was a slightly crumpled tarry blob in the middle of it all. More slimy goo was welling up through the floor drain.
“Don’t flush!” I yelled, running back up the stairs. Minutes later, Pete and I stood surveying the damage. Clearly, the room was full of raw sewage because it couldn’t go where it was supposed to go—into the septic tank. Either said tank was full (when was the last time we’d had it pumped out?) or the pipes were clogged—or both.
I won’t go into all the gory details—I’m sure you get the picture. Our poor students found another place to take their showers while we plugged all drains and started tracking down a septic service. Since we both had urgent meetings to attend that morning, we had to let it all sit until late afternoon. Then it took the septic guy and Pete working together another eight hours to empty the tank (it wasn’t completely full, but let’s just say it was close), then snake all the sewage lines. At one point the snake got stuck, and Pete had to take a hacksaw to the PVC pipes.
Eventually, everything was flowing properly once again, and it was my turn to start scrubbing. I spent the entire next day cleaning and doing laundry, but I’m happy to say that it’s all clean now, and all that’s left is to re-lay some carpeting.
So, where were the blessings?
Well, the first one was discovering the septic tank was about to overflow before it actually happened. Our mess was bad, but that would have been much worse.
We had to move the washer to clean the floor under it. In the process, I noticed that the hot water hose was worn, cracked, and about to break. We were able to replace the hoses before we had an unending flow of hot water spraying the walls and washing machine, thus saving both our energy bill and the well pump, not to mention the potential water damage to gypsum board, wallpaper, and an expensive appliance. (OK, stop reading now and go check your washing machine hoses! I’ll wait while you do.)
And thirdly, I had all that time on my hands and knees to meditate on all the verses having to do with sin, garbage, and other related topics. I pondered how our self-righteousness is worth no more than the disgusting scum I was scooping off the floor (Isaiah 64:6-7 and Philippians 3:8). I considered how many Old Testament laws related to our being unclean, and the washing and/or sacrifices that were required to remedy that condition (Leviticus 5, for example). And I thought about how God views our sinfulness as filth (James 1:21) that can only be cleaned by the washing with water through the Word (Ephesians 5:25-7).
It was a reminder that without that water flowing cleanly through my life, my sin will build up and putrefy, eventually overflowing into every corner, despoiling everything it touches.
I readily admit that I much prefer the blessings of faithful friends, beautiful scenery, and great weather in which to enjoy it. But how can I complain about a not-so-pleasant blessing that ultimately saved us from a more serious problem that would have cost even more time and money—plus it provided spiritual insight as a dividend?
What good gifts has God given you lately? What ways has God has blessed you that weren’t readily apparent as blessings?