For many, the best laid plan means that a plan is made and then everything works according to that plan. But for me, I like things to be open ended (spoiler alert…). Nothing is more relaxing than not having the day’s activities tied down and being able to go back to sleep after sending the husband off to work (with a smoothie, of course!). And that is just what I did this morning. I got back in bed, read today’s assignment of the chronological plan of reading the Bible in a year (which has been fascinating to me and there will be a post on that in the future), and fell promptly back to sleep. The start of a perfect day. I was allowing myself this indulgence today because Tom and I will be keeping the granddaughters over the weekend and I want to be energized for all the fun we will have. Which will be a ton! Honestly, this is not justification for my laziness. Well, maybe a little.
Anyway, the nap I had this morning was wonderful. I wasn’t even bothered too much when our two dogs, Eli and MO, a Labradoodle and a Havanese began barking. They are always barking at something in the morning, patrolling the house like palace guards. But this morning I didn’t allow it to disturb me. They get me up by 6:00 every morning to let them out and feed them. That is their time. This was mine.
So, finally…..about 9:00, I got up and walked right into the restroom. I got one foot in the room and squish went my feet on the bathroom rug. And then I saw it. Water all over the toilet seat and on the floor around it, extending even to my granddaughter’s pink princess potty positioned along the opposite wall. Ugh. So, I walked to the next bathroom. Didn’t see any water on the floor so I sat down. On a wet toilet seat. This is actually way too much information, but I want you to feel this with me. Sort of like when someone says, “Hey, this stinks. Smell it.” I checked both toilets to see if they were working. Probably a dumb move on my part, but nothing gross happened, just clear water. In a minute or two there was a rumbling sound that went through the house and both toilets started gurgling and bubbling, spewing and sputtering like half stuck fountains. I ran downstairs to check the powder room. A little water but much less fanfare. So….this is what the dogs were barking about. I think I had faintly heard this rumbling in my sleep. Should have paid attention!
I may not have had plans for my day but this was definitely not what I had in mind for my reentry into the day. I had envisioned time to sip my coffee and listen to Celtic Rain Radio on Pandora, while writing a post about a weekend reunion I recently attended. A post that would be full of love and mushiness. Not the kind of mushiness I feared for my near future. Panic set in as I worried what might come next. We’ve been told that since our house was built in the 1960’s we are due to change out our main sewer line as there are inevitably roots and breaks. A daunting task that we have been putting off til we must. Until it stops working. Oh no. Was this the sign that doomsday had arrived?! Please, a little more time! Please, not now, our backyard grass has never looked better. We’re not ready to have it all plowed up.
I needed to think clearly about this. I needed coffee. Maybe this wasn’t our main line at all. Maybe it was the city’s fault. Hadn’t I seen service trucks around the corner the other day during my walk? Hope springs eternal! After hastily throwing on clothes and grabbing a cup of Joe I got in my car determined to find the culprits, hoping there were culprits that were causing my toilets to bubble. Determined to find them soon. I didn’t know if I had enough towels to ward off a flood. And I was afraid to wash and dry more towels because, you know, it might cause more water to flow, perhaps this time from the washing machine line. I had thought about calling the city service help line, but was afraid I might be on hold until I needed an ark. No, I would prowl the streets for signs of work in the area.
I hadn’t even backed my car out of the driveway before I saw a little orange tractor thing buzzing behind me on the street. Threw the car in park, jumped out, and waived the driver down. This young man was probably in his early twenties and looked like he had already had a long day of working in the heat. Tired and sweaty, he listened patiently to my frantic rant and with some visible amusement, watched my hand gesture description of the waves pouring out of the toilets. Then he very calmly smiled and reassured me that all would be well. They were simply flushing out the city sewer lines. I know that was supposed to calm me down but, I think of flushing as taking something away from the house not bringing it in. Am I wrong?
When he’d had enough of my worry he simply walked in the backyard, took out his handy wrench and opened up the main line valve for our house. “This will relieve the pressure from the line when we are flushing the main city line out and will prevent the buildup in your house. This should solve your problem.” Not one to be reassured easily, I persisted. Would that mean sewer water would now flow in the backyard? Would he forget to come back and close it back up? The man, whose patience was really quite remarkable (much better than my family’s with me when I get this way) told me they clean the lines with fresh city water (debatable description) and there was no reason to worry. In addition, he told me he had left his wrench beside the drain so that he would have to come get it at the end of the day.
And that was it. He walked away into the sunlight, on to his original destination where they are doing the actual work. And my house? Quiet as can be. No more gurgling or bubbling or spewing. I’m ignoring the faint smell. And putting off washing the towels. And cleaning the bathrooms. Occasionally I peek outside to check the drain. So far so good. Need more coffee.
This morning my assigned section of the Bible reading was from Proverbs. Things like: Disaster pursues sinners, but the righteous are rewarded with good. (Pr. 13:21). Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life. (Pr. 13:12) The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, that one may turn away from the snares of death. (Pr.14:27) And, many more of course. But one stands out to me as I am reflecting the morning’s events. The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps. (Pr. 16:9)As I read it again I am graced with a sense of thankfulness that God is a power of sovereignty held in love. A power of order held in mercy. I am convicted of the need to draw closer to this Power. And as my morning has developed I have realized how short I fall in living into the person God created me to be because I have not yet fully relinquished my days over to this Love. I may not have wanted any plans to tie me down for the day, but I sure wanted to control it. And when the sewer problem interrupted my neatly envisioned day, I panicked, jumping to conclusions instead of going with the flow (slight pun intended) and calmly taking things minute by minute. It wasn’t so much my actions of seeking out the city worker. It’s good to seek answers. It was the heart behind my actions. The unnecessary panic, fear, and irritation. My need to have control kept me from seeing grace in each moment. Instead of resisting and resenting, I should have been grateful I have indoor plumbing, a roof over my head, a capable and nice worker who was there to quickly fix the problem. And grateful for a city that actually flushes the system now and then! And grateful to a God that loves me even when I panic at something as silly as an unexpected toilet fountain. Will I ever learn?!
There was just a ring at the back doorbell. The young city worker. He came to tell me that all is well, the city has finished the work, and he has closed off the drain. This young man’s warmth and calmness in the midst of my silliness warm my heart and bring tears to my eyes. He came back to do what he said he would because he left something valuable behind. God does that even more. God never gives up on us because he has left something valuable in each of us. His spirit. His heart. I need to be reminded of this from time to time. I pray that the young man’s steps are ordered, protected, and blessed by the power of God’s love today and each day to come.
I pray the same for you.
Something to chew on…