Category Archives: Spiritual insights

The Chickadee

Oh, cheerful, little chickadee,
You sing your song so merrily
And flit about from tree to tree
A picture of glad joy.
When summer’s sun is shining bright
And winter’s snow is sparkling white,
You go about your merry flight;
Your melody employ.

Then storms arise and fill the skies
With clouds that loudly verbalise
A threat. You hardly realise
The change about your tree.
When autumn’s winds do strongly blow
In pelting rains or driving snow,
You scarcely even then let show
A lessening of glee.

But, oh, my little chickadee,
Though like you surely ought to be
The heart God made and gave to me,
I fear that ne’er will be.
For though my joy should always be
Like avian felicity,
I face far more difficulty
Than you will ever see.

For you have never faced a care
That looms up far too great to bear;
Sought joyful countenance to wear
When heart was full of grief.
The tears flow fast; the loss brings pain;
I know not how to smile again.
How can I now a song sustain?
Find for my soul relief?

Dear, singing, little joyful bird
Alas your song is scarcely heard
By sad heart sick with hope deferred.
How can I be like you?
Awaited joys soon fade away
And disappointment comes to stay.
The night is lonely – more, the day.
My eyes my bed bedew.

Bewilderment is nigh at hand –
I seek the place where I should stand
So conscience will not reprimand.
The good, the better? Best?
Then pressures mount and tempers rise.
The work mounds up; I realise
I cannot better organise
Myself, the toil arrest.

And so, my little chickadee,
It seems impossible, you see,
To go about so merrily
With bird-like, joyful song.
For greater far than rain or snow
Are troubles that to me do blow.
How can I sing when nought I know
To bring to end this wrong?

My heart is torn to leave behind
The things that now are intertwined
About my life, my heart, my mind
How can I let them go?
The times ahead seem so unsure
And what I know is more secure.
How can I joyfully endure
If God calls me to go?

Then I, my cheerful singing bird
Recall to mind what I have heard:
That God’s design is never stirred
From sovereign will and plan.
He will not let me drop or sink
Beneath the load. And at the brink
Of helplessness He makes me think
And aids my feet to stand.

No, life on earth will never be
Without desires unfilled, ennui,
Sad, anxious moments, tears, debris –
Transgressions in my past.
Though seasons change or friends move on,
Things stay behind and soon are gone
From recollection, yet the dawn
Will spring from night at last

Oh, cheerful little chickadee,
What lessons you have brought to me:
In God my heart finds harmony.
I can a song employ.
If sunny skies are all I see
Or clouds and storms about me be,
Whatever else surrounds “my tree,”
I’ll still let show my joy!

~ ELF

What do I do when God brings change?

While cleaning my room recently, I came across the following story written nearly 10 years ago… I share it partially to bring smiles to others, but also because what the Lord was teaching me then still rings true in my heart and life. May we always hold every relationship with an open hand!

The Story of the Toilet Brush

WARNING! This is a very sad story. If you don’t have a box of Kleenex near you, you had better get one.

Once upon a time, there was a toilet brush. His name was Downstairs-Bathroom-Toilet-Brush also know as Yellow-Toilet-Brush. He was a very nice toilet brush

That wasn’t how the story started. Let me try again.

Once upon a time, there was a girl. Her name was Elizabeth She cleaned bathrooms very well, especially toilets.

That wasn’t it either! Here is how it really went (with a little exaggeration!)

When I was about five years old, my mother would get my siblings and me to help with the clean-up on Saturdays. The way she worked it was as follows: She would print up a list of jobs that needed doing and set it on the table. The first person to put their initial next to a job was the one who got to do it. Problem: my legs were shorter than those of my older brother and sister. So, when Mommy called, “Job time!”, though I ran as fast as I could, my older brother and sister would always get to the list sooner than I and, of course, get the “better” jobs such as washing the sinks or the mirrors. I was always left with the toilets! But Mommy, being the good mother that she is, somehow persuaded me that washing toilets was a very honourable job and made me proud of being the one to do them! To this day, the simple job of washing that toilet brings back many memories.

As we got older, there were more jobs that we were capable of doing. That meant that we each had more than one job to do.  Eventually, I found myself washing the whole downstairs bathroom by myself every Saturday.  My favourite part of cleaning the bathroom was washing the toilet, for although I now had the opportunity to do the other “better” jobs, there was always a kind of bond (if I may use that term) between me and that toilet… and of course the toilet brush.

Now, you must allow me to introduce you to the toilet brush. This was not just any toilet brush. He was made of a wire ring covered in white bristles which was attached to a bright yellow handle. From the very first day I met him, I liked him. And as time progressed, I became rather fond of him. Often I would boast to my brothers (who washed the upstairs bathroom) that he did a much better job at washing toilets than the one they used.  And so it seemed, for “my” toilet always looked cleaner after I was done than “theirs” did, and if they were having trouble getting theirs clean, I was always ready to show them what my favourite toilet brush could do! I don’t ever recall his being new, so I supposed he must have been around for some time before I began to use him. But despite his age, he was always bright and cheerful, ready for service at any time of day or night. He and I got along really well, and we made an excellent team. On several occasions, when I was  away from home, I had to use some other toilet brush. But those brushes never worked quite as well, not being as familiar with my way of doing things.

Many years went by, and that toilet brush and I continued to work together. He was getting older, but that only served to increase his effectiveness as it made him more flexible and ready to squeeze into corners that were difficult to reach. His bristles were also less stiff, which meant that he could have a larger area of himself touching the surface of the object being cleaned thus allowing us to clean more quickly. By this time, we got along so well,that we hardly had to communicate to get the job done. Each knew what the other was doing and responded accordingly.

One summer, however, everything changed. I was away at a course for three weeks. During my absence, my mother helped one of my younger siblings clean the bathroom. While cleaning, she noticed that this old toilet brush was rather used and worn out and decided to replace him. I was completely oblivious to this change until the Saturday following my return. When I came to clean the toilet, I opened the cupboard expecting to find my faithful old favourite toilet brush there. What I found, however, was very unexpected: in the place where he usually sat, I discovered a blue-handled object with a ball of stiff blue-and-white bristles at the end. A quick search of the cupboard revealed no other brush, so I immediately inquired as to the whereabouts of my favourite toilet brush. Mommy’s response was  mild: “It was time for it to be replaced.” My favourite toilet brush was gone! Gone forever! Never again would I see his cheerful yellow handle (true, it was fading, but it was still yellow) sticking out of his bucket. Never again would we clean the toilet together, and enjoy the silence of mutual consent! How could I ever get used to this new brush? I had always cleaned the toilet with my favourite brush! He was old, it was true, but he worked so well! Why should he be replaced?

That is the story of the toilet brush, but it isn’t the end of the whole story. As I thought about that toilet brush, it seemed unfair to me that he should be thrown out. The one upstairs didn’t work nearly as well as him, yet that one had been allowed to stay. This new one was awkward and stiff. It would be a long time before I could use it in the same way as I had been able to use my favourite brush. Yet, the mistress of the house decided that his time was up. His task was finished, his mission was accomplished. To me it seemed as though he could have served for many more years, but that was not to be his destiny.

How often do I respond in the same way to God? He puts people in our lives for a season and then takes them away when His purpose for them is accomplished. To us it may seem as though they could have been useful for much longer, but the Master in His wisdom knows when their mission is at an end. This does not only apply to people. There are other things with which He does the same thing. He gives material things. He gives opportunities. There are times when everything seems to be so perfect that we wish it could always stay that way. But this is not God’s way. Changes are a part of His plan. When He brings about those changes, how do I respond? Do I complain and question His decisions? “Lord, why did You take me out of that situation? I was learning so much. Others were blessed by what I was doing. ‘The toilet was getting clean!’? Or, “Lord, I don’t understand. You have put me in such an uncomfortable situation. The tools You have given me don’t seem adequate. ‘How can I clean the toilet with this?'” Will I weep and sigh over the people or things He takes away (I didn’t really cry over the toilet brush!) and pine for those He does not see fit to give, or will I trust that His will is good and that He has a purpose in everything even though I do not understand it?

Every thing beautiful

Once upon a time, in a land far, far, away – actually, Germany – there was a sleek, shiny, stainless steel dishwasher.  This was a special dishwasher – he had not one, not two, but three racks for washing dishes.  And he just knew that he was made to wash dishes.  One day, as he was sitting in the warehouse waiting for someone to come in and buy him, he was pondering his life purpose.

“I just know I’m made to wash dishes,” he thought.  “My beautiful water sprayers, my perfect hoses, my sleek and fancy dishwashing racks – yes, everything about me says that I was made to wash dishes.  My hope – my dream, my only desire in life is to wash dishes.  But here I sit on a shelf, totally unused and apparently unwanted.  What is my maker thinking?  Why did he fit out me so perfectly to wash dishes then leave me on the shelf like this?”

“Patience,” a voice answered him.  He hadn’t realised that he was thinking out loud.  “Patience,” it said again, and this time he recognized the voice of Aldert, an older dishwasher sitting on the shelf in front of him.

“Every dishwasher is sold sometime,” Aldert continued.  “The master dishwasher builder does not make a dishwasher to no purpose.  He always puts them to his purposes in his time.  But if you are to find the perfect fit with the perfect people for you, you must be patient.  Who knows, you may be taken to a home where you will wash more dishes than any of us – but you must be patient.”

Watler sighed.  He believed it was true, since almost all the dishwashers who had been there before he was were gone, and even some of the ones that had come in after him.  He sat back and waited.

Then one day, I heard strange voices talking.  They were talking in German, but here is a rough translation of what they said:

“I think it’s the dishwasher on shelf A52,” the first voice said.

“Why are we supposed to ship a single dishwasher off to North America?  Usually we ship in bulk from the warehouse down south, don’t we?”

“Yes, but they ran out of this model in North America, and someone ordered one, so rather than waiting for the whole shipment, we’re sending one solo.”

The voices were growing louder, and suddenly two men appeared in front of Watler.  They glanced him up and down, checked model numbers and other worthless jargon, and finally inspected his fine stainless steel front, and checked that his beautiful racks were all in place.  Then they packaged him up, and loaded him on a truck.

“Hooray!” thought Watler.  “I’m finally going!  I wonder if I’ll be at my home tomorrow.  I was made to wash dishes, I just know it.  And finally, finally, finally!  I’m going!  I’ll be washing dishes soon!”  A tear of joy escaped from one of his pipes.

For the rest of the day, Watler was excited.  He was at last going to the home where he could wash dishes!  He just knew that the master builder had meant for him to wash dishes – he could feel it in his buttons.  But imagine his disappointment when the truck stopped, dropped him off in another warehouse, and left him there for not one, not two, but three days!

At the end of the third day, Watler’s pipes were boiling.  He was made to wash dishes, and someone who didn’t know better had left him in the warehouse as though he had been nothing but a sink or garbage can.  Suddenly, though, the words of Aldert came to his mind:

“The master dishwasher builder does not make a dishwasher to no purpose.  He always puts them to his purposes in his time.”

Then, when he thought things couldn’t get worse, they did.  Someone came and picked him up, and started bringing him toward the ocean.  Then he descended into a dark, stuffy hole, and was dumped next to a supercomputer on one side, with a server rack on the other side.  What boring companions! But in this dismal hole, packed beside worthless junk that was made to do nothing but process bytes that you couldn’t taste and bits that wouldn’t wash off, Watler truly learned the secret of contentment.  He learned to trust that the master builder truly did have a plan for him, and that in his perfect time, everything would come together as it ought.

To tell Watler’s whole story would take far too long, because even after that long voyage across the Atlantic Ocean, there were more lessons in patience.  But probably the most trying lesson in patience came the day that Watler was sitting in the living room of the house of the person who had bought him.

“At last!” he thought, nearly crying he was so happy.  “At last, the waiting is over!  At last, I’ve arrived!  And look at those stacks of dishes!” he gloated.  But instead of putting him to work, the family simply unpackaged him, flipped him on his back, and left him sitting there helpless for a whole day.  If he hadn’t learned patience yet, he would have been fuming again, but instead, he thought,

“I’m made to wash dishes.  And I know that at the right time, in the right way, the master planner will make everything right.”

Finally, he was installed.  The installers weren’t very experienced, and it took them nearly a day, but Watler didn’t mind.  He was being installed in a brand new kitchen with lots of dishes around.  Finally, he was being loaded.  And at long last, he was started.  But once again, tragedy struck.  Only half way through his cycle, suddenly, he was brought to a screeching halt.  Someone had pushed his power button!  For half an instant, he wondered if it was all a big mistake, but then he remember the words of Aldert – “…you must be patient.”

After a few hours, he was started up again (of course, he remembered where he was in the process), and was allowed to finish his first batch of dishes in peace.  He went to sleep that night a very happy and fulfilled dishwasher – with many dishes promised to be coming his way.  As he dropped off, he thought,

“So this is why!  The master dishwasher maker sent me to this home, knowing that I was specially outfitted to wash lots of dishes.   Truly, his plans are best!”

Happy dishwasher

A happy dishwasher

 


Now let me telll you part of this story from another perspective…

How many of you guys like plumbing?  I mean, really like plumbing?  I must confess, I’m one of those happy individuals for whom the sight of water pouring out of the top of a drain pipe isn’t a terror which brings to mind dark imaginations of hours of fighting with filthy tools down dark holes.  That being said… it’s still not my absolute favourite thing to spend my evenings on.  However, when it comes to installing a dishwasher on plumbing that has been out of service for some 6-7 years, sometimes you have no choice…

It all started around 6-7 years ago, when our dishwasher broke down.  Our serviceman declared it irreparable, and thus it stood, unused – except for a variety of unconventional usages, such as storing dishtowels, hiding anniversary gifts, pulling parts off of, and even hiding the dishes once to make them look like they were already done.  (Believe it or not, this was actually a good faith joke, not naughtiness.)

Whatever the case, when we came to do the kitchen renovation which the faithful reader has already ascertained that we were recently doing, one of the items on our agenda was to replace the dishwasher.  Now, you have to understand that I hate dishwashers.  Or rather, I love washing dishes. But even I had to admit that this dishwasher, if nothing else, looked nice – because I also happen to like the looks of stainless steel kitchen appliances.

Bringing the dishwasher over

Bringing it over

So at it went we!  We had left a hole so that it could simply slip into the “peninsula” (an outlying section of counter attached to the rest only by one end) once the plumbing was connected.  We hooked up the plumbing and wiring with no major issues, et voilà!  It was ready to roll. Or… so we thought.

We turned it on, and nothing was leaking, so my father started attaching the back panel, and I attached the front panel.  We marveled at the silence of this silver coloured monster which was steam blasting our dishes.  All was well until it came to its first drain cycle.  Suddenly, someone noted an unprecedented aquatic accumulation in front and to the side of the silver monster.  A quick job with a screw driver sufficed to remove the front panel, revealing water under the whole dishwasher. My father was equally busy moving out the back panel, revealing water underneath at the back as well.

We quickly deciphered from various telling signs that this water came not from the pure source of our well, but rather from the drain.  We conjectured that it was probably spilling out the top of the drain pipe, since there appeared to be traces of water pouring down its sides.  A minute’s worth of patience was sufficient to confirm the hypothesis: when the dishwasher commenced its next drain cycle, water instantly spewed from the drain pipe at a prodigious rate.

Being the geniuses we are, of course, we turned off the dishwasher.  For those who still wonder at this step, please consider that though our kitchen was well sealed, it was not intended to be a fish pond – especially not with the remains of everyones’ suppers floating around in it.  The whirring silver monster made no complaint concerning its unfortunate halt, patiently waiting for us to resolve the issues and allow it to resume its happy occupation of cleansing the dishes.

The first thing to do at this point was relatively clear: clean the P-trap.  Happily, there was a cleanout valve at the end of drain pipe.  I quickly opened it, not sure what to expect, and narrowly missed getting hit in the face with a stream of a thick black soupy liquid.  Unfortunately, the freezer, floor, walls, bookshelf, garbage can, and desk underneath were not so blessed.  (Neither were my hands, for the record.)

Those who read my previous plumbing post may remember our famous snake.  It was the tool for the moment.  It quickly showed us that the pipe was blocked for about 15-20 feet with what I call “6 years of accumulation of 3 trillion bacteria, sitting down there laughing at us.”

Dirty floor

Actually, this is after the first cleanup. It was worse than this.

Several hours, several handwashings, and several discussions as to how to clean out the pipe later, we finally managed to get it unblocked enough that my father could send down some baking soda solution, followed with a heavy dose of vinegar – which effectively cleaned out the pipe, and allowed us to resume the dishwasher’s cycle.

More cleaning

Treating with baking soda and vinegar


“He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.  I know that there is no good in them, but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life.  And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God. I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11-14)

It was striking me as I thought over Watler’s plight that it is actually not unsimilar to the plight that many of us find ourselves in from day to day. We just know that God wants a particular thing for our lives.  We know that He has designed us for a given purpose.  That purpose may be marriage, a family, a ministry, or a thousand different things.  We look at our hearts, we look at our skills, we look at who God has made us, and we wonder, just like Watler,

“My hope – my dream, my only desire in life is [xyz].  But here I sit on a shelf, totally unused and apparently unwanted.  What is my Maker thinking?  Why did He fit out me so perfectly to [xyz] then leave me on the shelf like this?”

Aldert’s exhortation actually rings true for me.

“The Master does not make a person to no purpose.  He always puts them to His purposes in His time.  But if you are to find the perfect fit with the perfect place for you, you must be patient.”

The Hand I Trust

The thought running through my head lately: “I know not what the future holds, but I know Who holds the future.” The hand that holds my future is no ordinary hand. It is:

Everlasting: “The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.” (Deut. 33:27)

Guiding: “He leadeth me in paths of righteousness.” (Ps 23:3) “Thy hand shall lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.” (Ps. 139:10)

Incapable of weakening: “Is my hand shortened at all, that it cannot redeem? or have I no power to deliver? behold, at my rebuke I dry up the sea, I make the rivers a wilderness…” (Is. 50:2) “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save.” (Is. 59:1)

Never releasing: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: and I gave unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” (Jn 10:27-28)

Pain inflicting when necessary: “Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice.” (Ps. 51:8)

Suffering relieving: “All they that had any sick with divers diseases brought them unto him; and he laid his hands on every one of them, and healed them.” (Lk. 4:40) “And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be though clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.” (Mt. 8:3)

Life restoring: “[He] took her by the hand, and called, saying, Maid, arise. And her spirit came again…” (Lk 8:54)

Receiving and blessing the unwanted: “[Jesus] said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God… And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them.” (Mk 10:14,16)

Vicariously dying: “Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands.” (Is. 49:16) “He shewed unto them his hands and his side.” (Jn 20:20)

Perpetual joy giving: “Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Ps. 16:11)

“See now that I, even I am he, and there is no god with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand.” (Deut. 32:39) Both the enemies of God and the elect of God are “trapped” in His hand. To the condemned, this realisation may give rise to terror, but to the chosen, this truth brings security.

The hand that holds my future, is an everlasting hand, a hand that will never let me go, a hand that leads me, a hand that cannot be weakened. This hand both inflicts pain and grants healing. This hand reaches beyond the threshold of death to restore life. This hand takes hold of the unwanted and blesses them. This hand was not only wounded for me, but died for me. And in its resurrection and eternal life, it’s continual presence instigates perpetual joy. How trustworthy is His hand!

Frenzical Freezing Fire

Have you ever gotten to bed after midnight only to wake up about four or five hours later with the lights flickering, flashing light in the room, a crackling sound, the smoke detector beeping, and soon to hear the cry of “Fire! Fire!”? That’s about what happened to me Tuesday night…

I got to bed late Tuesday night due to an encouraging conversation with one of my siblings, so I was quite sleepy and was sound asleep in seconds. I had set my alarm early so I could shovel out the driveway if necessary, as they were calling for snow and freezing rain.

As I related in the first paragraph, I woke up – not to my alarm (I had long ago slept through that) – but to the smoke detector at 6:30. My initial reaction was to think that we must be having a power cut, because that smoke detector is connected to the wall power and beeps whenever the power turns on or off. But in the few seconds it took me to wake up a little more, I realised that it was making one long solid beep. Furthermore, the light in the hall was flickering, and a strange yellowish flashing light was filling the room, along with a strange crackling sound.

Suddenly Jonathan rolled over and sat bolt upright in his bed. That’s unusual for him – usually he sleeps soundly and wakes up slowly. At this point my still three-quarters asleep brain began to register that something might be seriously wrong. When my brother suddenly jumped out of bed and dashed out of the room, I followed suite, noticing a little more clearly the flashing light in our second-story bedroom. Glancing out the window in another room, Jonathan said urgently, “There’s a fire out there!”

Soon the cries of “Fire!” had just about everyone awake in the house. At this point, the power had cut, and the rush down the stairs soon had me about half awake. Standing out on the balcony, we could see the fire.

In order to appreciate what happened next, I have to tell you what was actually going on. What had actually happened was that due to excessive amounts of snow and ice, a tree had fallen on the power line going to our house and the neighbours’, putting enough pressure on the line to break its joint on the main line, but not enough to totally separate them. The result was that the electricity was jumping the gap between the wires, creating an unforgetable light show.

Someone (I don’t know who) said to call 911. Having only been awake for some 45 seconds, Yours Truly was none too genius, and said, “Don’t call too fast – it might just be fireworks!” I guess I was somewhat justified in that only few weeks ago the police got called on our neighbours for possible domestic violence because they set off a couple firecrackers early in the morning.

Still, setting off fireworks in the ditch between the road and a patch of forest under the powerline would warrant an investigation in and of itself, and, fortunately, my advice was not followed. Sadly, the sparking stopped too fast for me to be able to get any pictures. Happily, the sparking didn’t start a fire anywhere else.

The firemen arrived within 10 minutes, and in view of the fact that Sherbrooke Hydro trucks were so badly tied up they had to call in workmen from an hour away, Hydro Quebec arrived surprisingly quickly. By shortly after noon, they had our power up and running.

20141210_SLF_4030

As I made my way about my electro-free morning, I realised that I sometimes get power outages in my spiritual life. When I fail to be connected to my source of energy and joy – Christ – it is certain that when conflicts arise, and struggles come, I will not have the strength and power to meet them head on.

Just as a house without power is unable to function normally, I am unable to function as God desires if I am not looking to Him for my strength and joy. One of my favourite hymns reads,

“Oh soul are you weary and troubled – no light in the darknes you see? There’s light for a look at the Saviour, and life more abundant and free. Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.”

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” – Hebrews 12:1-2

Sliding Civics and Accent Accidents

What good weather for accidents it is! We finally have our first few inches of snow: and what with fairly warm temperatures and freezing rain this afternoon, the roads have become skating rinks for automobiles. And to make things worse, it’s the first real snow in the year, so many drivers haven’t yet switched to winter tires – which increases the danger of driving on the already slippery roads.

Shortly after lunch, we saw signs of an accident on the other side of the street. After investigation, we determined that the driver was uninjured and awaiting a towtruck. The towtruck arrived and pulled his Honda Civic out of the ditch without much difficulty. The car was sufficiently undamaged that he was able to drive off – still spinning his tires!

Unfortunately, the sander made his run of our street during this roadside rescue, and had to pass around the rescue operation – which left an unsanded, slippery trap for any other road users. So it was no great surprise when only an hour or so later, a Hyundi Accent landed in the ditch about the same place. This driver too, escaped bodily injury, though they did tow this car away for repairs. No doubt if you live anywhere further up North, you have either seen or heard of an accident due to failure to put snow tires on – or even been involved in one! As I consider these accidents, however, I realise that many people around this world resemble the many drivers who have procrastinated putting on their snow tires. Many people, who have heard the Gospel message, have failed to place their faith and trust in Christ. They say, “Oh, I will get around to it,” and put off considering eternal salvation. But even as they say that, their day comes when their souls are required: thus their entry into the afterlife is summed up in that fateful word – unprepared.

But then there is another class of people on this globe, and that is people who have not heard the blessed Gospel message. These are those, who, as it were, did not know that the snow was coming. Why is this? I believe it is at least in part because Christians across our province, country, continent, and globe have failed to proclaim the truth. We have seriously lacked in our duty of “preach[ing] the gospel to every creature.”

It is high time for Christians to awake and proclaim the truth of God’s Word. It is high time for us to stop being ashamed of the Gospel and to stop setting our affections on things on the earth – to hold fast the Gospel and to love others by telling them about the Saviour who has died for our sins.

Dirty Drains – A Dishwashing Dilemna

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.”

Genius, right?

“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.

A little reflection

   “Wilt thou go with this man?” ~ Genesis 24:58

   As I read this chapter of Genesis, I again marvelled at Rebekah’s response to this question.  Abraham’s servant, in meeting her the evening before was persuaded that she was the one for his master’s son.  God had made that abundantly clear to him.  Rebekah’s father and brother had given their consent to the union, but requested that she stay with them a while longer before leaving.  When the servant pressed for a speedy departure, however, they called for Rebekah.  If she chose to go, she would probably experience the greatest change in her entire life.  She would leave the security of the house where she had dwelt all her life and the routine, quiet job of tending sheep to live an unpredictable nomad’s life in a tent, never having a piece of land to call “home.”  As a shepherd girl, she had perhaps never experienced the seasickening motion of a camel ride.  The long trek across miles of unknown terrain with no company but the strangers met the evening before would be tiring with no familiar face to greet her at the end of the journey.  The very climate of this far-off place could well differ vastly from what she currently knew.  She would leave behind all that was familiar to her: all her friends, her family, those who thought like her, talked like her, believed like her.  She would leave them behind to go live in a place where she knew no one and where no one but her proposed husband and his aged father believed in the God Who was sending her there.  Yet Rebekah didn’t hesitate.  “I will go.”

   There is so much that she didn’t say.  She had only just met this servant the evening prior and had no proof beyond his own word that he was who he said he was.  She could have cross-questioned him to find out more about him and his master.  She could have asked to know more about Isaac and what he was expecting of her.  She could have refused to go unless Isaac came for her himself.  She could have requested time to think about such a big decision.  She could have demanded that the servant explain how the various obstacles she would face could be overcome.  But she did none of these things.  “I will go.”  It was simple.  God’s will for today was amply clear and she chose to act on the light He had given for the moment.  The unknown future she left in His hands.

   Am I like Rebekah?  When God says, “Will you go?”, do I raise all kinds of objections and refuse to move unless my path be lit further ahead? Or do I say simply and unreservedly, “I will go.”?  When God says, “Will you stay?”, do I argue and explain why my plan for my future is better than His?  Or do I answer in submission, “I will stay.”?

   “Wilt thou go…?”