Tuesday, May 30, 2017
Plumbing problems. These are two words that can strike fear into the heart of every homeowner. They also represent a euphemism for bodily dysfunction, but that’s not the tack we’ll be taking here.
What I’m referring to are leaks and breaks and other issues in the pipes of a home. Lead pipes. Copper pipes. PVC and pex. Or, perhaps it’s a bad washer in a faucet, a failed flusher in the toilet, or a clog in a drain.
Plumbing problems -- big and little -- can bring the strongest man to tears. Especially when you’re living on only half a shoestring and haven’t got a clue.
Many years ago, while up in the middle of a very cold night to use the bathroom, I heard a noise in the wall behind the bathtub. I went around to the other side through the laundry room and saw a slight bulge in the wallboard. I touched it and Whoosh! a strong stream of water came spraying out at me.
There was a tiny crack in the copper pipe, the rest of which, it turned out, was frozen.
Panic set in. This was the first home I’d owned, had only barely enough income, and no idea where to turn off the water. I searched all over for a shut-off valve, only to finally discover -- and I can’t recall how I came into this knowledge -- that the shut-off was in the street.
We had to call the city and wait while the water spewed.
Needless to say an easily accessible shut-off valve was added inside the house. Since then, wherever I’ve lived, whether apartment or house, I always checked first thing to see where the water shut-off valve was located.
I’ve dealt with a fair number and kinds of plumbing issues since then. I’ve even worked in construction where I installed plumbing. Now, instead of panic, I figure out what needs to be done. Minor issues I can usually take care of on my own. Duct tape can be handy for fast, temporary fixes! For bigger, more complicated issues -- like the slab leak we recently dealt with-- I call a few plumbers and get quotes.
Experience makes a difference in response. Learning occurs. Or at least it should.
A brand new baby Christian can easily be sidetracked by the usual everyday temptations and clever but wrong arguments. However, if maturing is happening common tempters can be anticipated and avoided. And nice-sounding, but non-biblical and deceptive concepts become easier to spot. We learn not to go certain places or watch certain programs or listen to certain people and so on. We learn.
Trials become a little easier to endure as well. Events that once were instantly crushing eventually are still painful when they happen, yet bearable. We learn that what feels like the end of the world really isn’t. Shaky faith grows into stronger faith. We learn to endure and hope even when it seems hopeless. Our pain teaches us how to comfort others.
And when life throws one of those soul-punch challenges at us -- a serious illness, divorce, death of a loved one, financial collapse -- we discover that it’s better not to bear those burdens alone. We belong to a body of believers and have discovered there are lots of shoulders to lean on.
Jesus told his followers, “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33, ESV).
With time and experience, learning the reality of this truth -- that Jesus has overcome the world -- becomes more real, offering steadying hope and comfort. When life “springs a leak” panic abates as we turn to our Master Plumber and fellow believers for support.
How do you deal with life’s “plumbing problems”? On your own? Or do you phone a friend? Does scripture help or hurt? As for my midnight leak, I wrote a poem about the ordeal later. You can click here to read it: “Prayer at Midwinter”. Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments.