After a morning moving wood and ripping a DVD one day last week, I was quite prepared to settle down to a “normal” afternoon of school work. Oh, and some music I had not gotten around to that morning. A more or less relaxing afternoon studying stoichiometry or the negative effects of sociological law sounded appealing, and I would enjoy a quiet afternoon. Or so I thought.
I quietly hummed as I began the normal routine of lunch dishes. As I began rinsing, I suddenly became aware of a problem – the sink wasn’t draining correctly. Nothing daunted, I pulled the plug up higher, hopefully allowing a clearer passage for the water to flow. Nothing happened.
A little puzzled, perhaps, but hardly worried. Must just be the negative pressure generated by having the plug in the other sink. I pulled that plug out. Still nothing happpened. At this point, I began to put my intellect to full use.
“Hmm,” I said, “I think we have a problem.”
“Hmm,” I said a little louder, “I think we have a serious problem.”
Little did I know how right the word “serious” was.
“What’s that?” asked my mother, who happened to be walking through at the time.
“I think,” I said, rapidly forming the obvious hypothesis, “the drain is blocked.”
At this point Elizabeth walked in, and we were pretty quickly involved in what would become the biggest plumbing repair project in which I have ever been involveed.
Most sink drains have a section of pipe underneath them designed to catch residue that might come down, known in my vocabulary as a P-trap. Thankfully, ours was no exception. The obvious first step : clean out the P-trap.
Removing the P-trap valve resulted in the discovery of several things : Firstly, one place where our problem was not. The moment we opened the P-trap valve, the water poured out very nicely. There was virtually nothing in the P-trap – that is, except a drinking straw.
Unfortunately, this meant that the problem lay further in, and deeper into the unknown, un-navigated heart of the plumbing works’ dark depths. For that, we were convinced, the ideal weapon, er, tool, would be none other than the snake. A snake, as it is known, is a long, flexible, metal coil designed for penetrating deep into drainage pipes.
So out came my father’s 20 foot snake. After navigating with some difficulty the curves of the tube, we successfully determined that the blockage was more than 20 feet down the pipe. This posed a serious problem, because not only we did not have a longer snake, but there are no clean out valves along that pipe to insert the snake into.
After some deliberation, we decided to reconnect the loose ends, pray very hard, and try once more to plunge the sink with the toilet plunger. Um, yes. Sometimes a desire for a clean life is interupted by the painful necessity of using messy tools.
Evelyn, who had joined us at this point, stayed downstairs to listen and see if the water flowed down. Elizabeth went upstairs and began hooking things up. Yours Truly began some clean up, and soon headed upstairs to help with plunging.
After trying a few times, we felt discouraged. It didn’t seem to be working. Finally, I suggested plunging very hard rapidly several times in succession. With little hope of succes, but trusting in the Father of Success, we plunged. And – no, no – or wait – yes, YES!!! It was draining! Praise the Lord!
As I washed the dishes – around 4:00 – I realised that all too often my life becomes like a dirty drain. I settle into the normal routine of life, doing the right thing; cleaning the surface dirt from my life, and dumping it all down the drain.
Sooner or later, however, the troubles begin to build up. Because if I fail to be regularly cleaning my heart out by God’s Word, the filth of pride, envy, covetousness, bitterness, anger, and dishonour begin to build up. And eventually, it begins to cause problems in my surface life.
I wonder how often as Christians, when this happens, we just open the P-trap and fail to allow God to do the painful work of cleansing the depths of our hearts. As I wrote above, sometimes a desire for a clean life is interupted by the painful necessity of using messy tools. I am reminded to ask myself, Am I constantly asking God to search me? To cleanse me? There’s a beautiful hymn that reads,
“Search me, O God, and know my heart today;
Try me, O Saviour, know my thoughts, I pray.
See if there be some wicked way in me;
Cleanse me from ev’ry sin and set me free.”
May God help us to seek cleansing always and only from Him.