Last week the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage and Yours Truly skipped town for some church business. Our carefully laid plan called for us to be gone two days. On such trips, we try to squeeze everything possible into it, and thus we had done on this occasion.
Have you ever, on closing the house door to leave, had the feeling you'd forgotten something?
This feeling haunted me for the two days we were gone, but I could not think of anything I forgot.
On noon the second day I called our phone message service and that's when I heard the call nobody wants to hear.
A message from the utility company informing me of a major leak in the parsonage and the water meter was spinning like a wheel. (Oh, hallelujah, break out the jelly beans.)
My head swam with visions of our furniture floating out the back door on a river of dollars.
I immediately called our daughter to go and see if there was a water break in the house or maybe some water faucet running that we did not notice when we left. In a half hour she called back to report that all was well - and dry - in the parsonage.
As relieved as I was on this matter, it did not alleviate my anxious feeling. I knew something terrible was wrong at the parsonage; after all, the utility company never calls just to talk.
I wallowed in my helplessness and all I could do was pray. Prayer should be the first thing we do but often it is a last resort. As I prayed, all I could see were dollars flying out of my wallet.
The weekend before I had performed a wedding ceremony and received an honorarium. My wife and I decided to put this money in a savings account for our vacation. At the time, it seemed like a superb idea (I only wished I had thought of it).
I saw our vacation money fly out the window as I thought of the tremendous damage in progress at the parsonage. As I prayed I confessed my covetous spirit and told God He could have the money if it pleased Him. I put it all in his hands.
After three months on the road, [at least it seemed like three months] we arrived home and jumping out of the car almost before it came to a complete stop, I ran into the house to assess the damage.
I ran through every door, look at every possible place where a leak might be and found absolutely nothing. Not a drop of water anywhere inside the house.
At that moment, a terrible thought gripped me. The leak must be outside. Of course! There is a gusher outside somewhere. By this time, it was dark so I grabbed a flashlight and made a dash for outside.
After a brief survey of the lawn, I found the problem. On opening the lid to the water meter I saw water flowing as free as a river. However, it was not free to me.
I called the utility company and a young man came immediately and shut off the water.
As I looked at him he knew what I was thinking and said to me, "Mister, the leak is on your side of the meter, so you'll have to get a plumber and fix it." There are many things to be grateful for in life, but a big leak in the front yard isn't one of them.
I called the plumber the next day and he came over in the afternoon. When he pulled up, I panicked.
He drove into my driveway in a rather new Cadillac. That, in and of itself, threw me off my game. When he got out, he pulled from his back pocket a doctor's stethoscope. A plumber that drives a Cadillac and thinks he's a doctor is just about more than I can afford.
Then he looked at me and smiled.
"Hello, Rev. Snyder. Good to see ya. I guess you've got a little problem here."
At the time, I did not know if my problem was underground or the person standing on top of the ground. That sick, queasy feeling in the pit of my stomach was back.
The plumber took one look at the meter and turned to me and said, "Well, I've got some good news for you."
I needed some good news about then. As it turned out, the problem was on the meter, which technically belongs to the utility company.
I called the utility company only to have them inform me that it was indeed MY problem, but they decided to send out a technician to have another look.
When the technician arrived, he looked at me and said, "Are you Rev. Snyder?"
When I answered in the affirmative he said, "Do you have a daughter named Sarah?"
Again, I answered in the affirmative.
"Well," he said good naturedly, "I used to work with her down at the community center."
"Let's see what we have here, Rev. Aha, I see the problem."
With that, he twisted a bolt, replaced a washer and tightened the bolt. Then, he straightened up and said, "Rev. this is our problem so this ain't gonna cost you anything. In fact, I will make out my report and they'll take care of the water bill."
To say I liked this young man is putting it mildly.
Then the plumber who was standing by said, "Rev. I usually charge $50 for a house call, but just say a $50-prayer for me Sunday and we'll call it even."
That evening as I took a nice hot shower with real water, I was reminded of one of my favorite Bible verses. "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28 KJV).
My giant leak turned out to be but a tiny link in God's goodness.
The Rev. James L. Snyder is pastor of the Family of God Fellowship located at 1471 Pine Road in Silver Springs Shores. He lives with his wife, Martha, in Silver Springs Shores and can be contacted by calling 687-4240. Rev. Snyder's new book, "Romance Around A Parsonage Fireplace," is now available. Call for details. His E-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. The Church website is www.whatafellowship.com
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