I recall a recent Wednesday evening that turned out to be anything but mundane. After finishing a rather unremarkable dinner of soup and some fruit juice, I strolled into my master bedroom to wash up and crash out for the night. To my dismay, however, I discovered that where dry carpeting should have been, an inch of water covered the floor of my bedroom, closet and master bath. And it was making its way into other parts of my home. My neighbor’s water heater had burst. Along with its demise came the unrelenting onslaught of more water than I care to think about, creeping inexorably on its way through the baseboards and into my home.
Wet-dry vacuum in hand, I fought gallantly to stave off the oncoming flood. Fortunately, the battle for my home ended at around 3:30 a.m., when the police department mercifully shut off the valve. By then, I was exhausted. Some books, linens, clothes and even one of my guitar amplifiers perished in the flood that evening.
Reflecting on that very wet night, I realized a couple of things. One was that water can get into anything and everything – quickly. But second, and more to the point, I recalled having a sense of peace through it all, even managing a wry smile from time to time. I meditated on the fact that the Lord was with me and would always love me.
My melodrama aside, the Bible teaches that every so often, God allows us to experience the foul taste of a fallen and broken world. Why? Because it is when we are shaken that we discover what is really inside of us. If you want to discover the contents of a saltshaker, you only need to shake it a bit. Whatever is inside will come out. So, too, with our hearts in the midst of difficult times.
On a more serious note, in my Life capacities at my church in Fort Lauderdale, I often meet people who are walking through much deeper waters than those from just a broken water heater. For some, it’s the mind-numbing reality of a doctor’s diagnosis. For others, it is the sting of a lost job in a recessionary economy. So many of these brothers and sisters, though, portray the peace and joy of Christ through the challenges they face. Are there any biblical examples of people who also experienced God’s peace through turmoil?
A host of names comes to my mind, two in particular. The apostle Paul one day found himself in a Roman prison. From the historical research I’ve seen, the Roman penal system was anything but inviting. Prisoners were often expected to obtain their own food and water through friends or family.
The Philippian believers had eventually heard of Paul’s arrest. Hearing of their distress concerning his incarceration, Paul encouraged them to remain steadfast and experience the joy and peace of Christ, despite his recent ordeal. Paul could actually say of his wrongful incarceration, “ that what has happened to me has really served to advance the Gospel” (Phil. 1:12).
Another person who faced trials with the glory of His Father reflected in His life was the Lord Jesus. Never did two holier and more beautiful feet ever walk on this earth than those of our Savior. Think of where those two feet carried Him. Once, He walked into a little out-of-the-way town called Nain, where He stopped a funeral procession in its tracks and raised a dead boy back to life (Lk. 7:11ff.). On another day, He walked up onto a hillside, where He preached the beloved Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7). On the day I think is the most important in human history, those same two feet would carry our Lord through a crowded Jerusalem street and up onto a hill called the Hill of the Skull. Shortly thereafter, a metal spike was driven through those feet, as our Savior was cruelly fastened onto what would become the cross of our eternal salvation.
When we face the unexpected, we will be shaken up a bit. What will come out? Seek the Lord’s strength during such times. He stands ready to walk with you. Also ask Him to reveal to you how you might be able to glorify Him through it all. The Holy Spirit may remind you of a verse that speaks to your very situation. Pray and offer your situation up to the Lord, trusting completely in His ability to guide you through it.
The Lord certainly has been faithful to me during my life, even with broken water heaters. I’ll have to ask Him when I see Him one day, but I wonder if He, too, was smiling a bit that night, winking fondly at me every so often, as if to say, “I know, son, I know. I love you! Now, get some towels.”
Allen can be reached at [email protected]