There was a strange, gray-haired man standing in the front yard when I pulled the minivan into my driveway. The trespasser was wearing dressy clothes and held a tape measurer in one hand. He seemed harmless enough as he stood there staring at my house; I wasn’t expecting any visitors though, so I found his presence a bit odd.
He hurried across the overgrown lawn to our little picket fence and apologized for startling me. As I unloaded the kids, he began explaining that our homeowner’s insurance company had sent him to survey our house. I thanked him for letting me know and took my sons inside, leaving him to his work.
A letter arrived from the insurance company a few weeks later. It simply stated that we had two months to replace our roof or they would not renew our policy, putting us in direct violation of our mortgage agreement.
The inspector must have seen the blue tarp that had been a temporary covering over a leak above our back bathroom window. My husband, Mark, called the company immediately to inform them that he had already made the needed repair.
“Sir, your roof will need to be replaced anyway.” The young woman stated with a coolness that lowered the temperature of our entire living room ten degrees.
“But I fixed it! It was just a small leak around a nail hole.” Mark protested as he paced the floor, clutching the phone tighter as he realized he was getting nowhere fast. “I patched it up with tar and it’s fine.”
“Did you replace it?” More ice.
“Well, no…but it rained last week and there wasn’t a single drop in the house. There is no leak, the roof’s fine!” He was getting pretty ticked by that point, but it was useless; she wasn’t listening to a word he said.
“Sir, did you replace your old roof?” She made it painfully obvious that there was no choice but to cooperate and reminded him that doing anything else would jeopardize our insurance coverage.
My husband’s uncle is a contractor who was just starting up his own business. We were very thankful when he sent over a crew of men to raise our rooftop to policy standards. We still had to take out a loan with the bank, but his kindness ended up saving us quite a bit of money.
At some point in that remodeling process, it was necessary for the workers to remove the satellite dish. They unfastened the bolts from the base and sat the dish on the ground – right in the middle of my flowerbed!
When the job was completed, my frugal spouse was determined to place the dish back on the roof by himself, rather than pay a technician to come out. Soon after that less than professional re-installation, we began to have mysterious problems with the reception. Two days later, we lost the signal completely.
I contacted the satellite company regarding the problem and was informed it would be close to one hundred dollars just to send someone to look at it. I relayed the information to Mark, already knowing the response I would get. The decision was made; he wasn’t about to spend that kind of money. We would just have to live without it.
I’m a stay at home mom. On occasion, I use the television as a baby sitter so I can grab a much-needed shower. It’s also nice to get a glimpse into the world beyond my crunchy, Playdough strewn floors and Crayola covered table, by tuning in to hear some actual adults having conversations.
It’s not that I think the characters are talking exclusively for my benefit, but it makes the long days alone with young children pass more quickly when there is a murmur of ‘grown up friends’ in the background to keep you company.
With an endless supply of adults to speak with at work, Mark didn’t consider the television much of a necessity. He was barely aware of this minor inconvenience, hardly even enough to be slightly annoyed.
“We still have an old pair of rabbit ears somewhere,” he insisted. “The local channels will still come in clearly and that will be good enough for a while.”
Over the next few days I saw far more Barney, Teletubies, and talk shows than I care to remember, but he was right, we didn’t really need the satellite dish. That is, until Sunday rolled around and he remembered his favorite show was on a satellite station; in three hours he would be missing it. Out came the ladder and toolbox. The rabbit got his ears back.
Mark spent some serious time up on our lovely new roof, opening the control panel, fiddling around with cables and connectors, and then carefully climbing back down to check his progress, only to climb back up again. After much dedicated labor and patience, he came in the house to check the reception status one last time and to his delight, success had been achieved.
“Finally!” he exclaimed, as he mopped beads of sweat from his forehead. “I thought it was never going to come in!” Now all he had to do was fill a few countdown hours and all of his hard work would be rewarded with his favorite show.
I grabbed the remote control to scan the preview guide, looking for something interesting to watch in the meantime. Curiosity made me scroll down the listings to check what his show would be about that night. Wouldn’t you know it – a rerun! Neither of us realized the finale was the previous week; the new season wouldn’t be starting for months.
I hated to break the bad news, knowing how hard he had worked in anticipation of the program. My poor husband was completely disappointed. He felt like he had climbed up and down that ladder a million times with nothing to show for it. He didn’t see the point in watching a story with no surprises, and therefore no suspense or excitement.
He sulked off to our bedroom in disgust. Moments later, I heard sound effects from his video game blaring through the thick walls of our old home. He hibernated for the rest of the night, unwilling to invest one minute in a rerun. His plans were completely ruined by a single nail creating a leaky roof.
The television situation in our home that night triggered some analogous thoughts concerning answered prayer. There have been many times I have prayed, asking God for help with one problem or another. I call on my own recollections of solutions from the past, and pray with the expectation of similar results.
I tend to forget that God’s imagination is vast. He doesn’t need to go on hiatus every summer to come up with new ideas. He delights in surprising us and does not have to resolve things the same way every time.
A few years ago, my son Jonathan and I were happily on our way to go shopping. I was excited to have a little extra money to spend for fun – an occasion that was a rarity back then. I chatted away at him. My head was full of ideas about what I was going to buy for us. Mere blocks from shopping heaven, I got my first flat tire.
My heart was heavy with despair as I awkwardly maneuvered my car into the closest repair place I could see. Surrounded by a showroom full of tires, I looked around dumbly, trying to appear as though I had some clue what I was looking for. After selecting the cheapest tire I could find, I was told it wouldn’t be long.
I sat with my child in that dingy waiting room trying to mentally calculate how much would be leftover once we were on our way. We wouldn’t be getting everything, but there was a slim possibility we could still buy a few things on my list.
The shadow of that chance slipped away when the mechanic told me the lug nuts were completely rusted and the only way he would fix the tire was if they were replaced too. The cost of the service would take just about every penny I had planned to use for our special outing.
I couldn’t think of any other options, so I agreed to his terms. Then I picked up my little son and walked to a restaurant down the street to wait. Thoughts of ‘why me’ and ‘God just fix it somehow’ filled my head. It was so discouraging to have our plans thwarted by a stray nail in the road.
Barely holding back tears, I held Jon tight as we walked down the busy street. My precious three-year-old became restless and insisted I put him down. I was in no mood to put up with his squirming, so I let him go with an exasperated sigh.
As soon as his tiny feet touched the ground, he went directly to a nearby bush and picked a yellow flower. I knelt down to his level to receive the beautiful gift he had selected for me.
“Did I make you happy now, mommy?” he asked, staring expectantly at me, his blue eyes full of worry. I couldn’t help but smile through my tears at his tender concern for me even at such a young age.
When we walked back to the repair shop, I still had to fork over my little fortune. God hadn’t miraculously fixed the car or paid my bill for me as I had hoped. Instead He looked at the situation, peering deeper than the surface I was staring at, and taught me a powerful lesson. I was provided a priceless comfort from a completely unexpected source.
When life gets almost too demanding and I need reassurance that things will be better, a renewal of hope takes root when I remember that offer of my child’s unconditional love. Jon still picks those yellow flowers for me because it makes my face smile. What he doesn’t know is that it makes my spirit smile too.
Whether I’m facing a dilemma caused by a nail in the road or a nail in my roof, I may never know how it will turn out, but if I take the time to pray, I can be certain the answer will be a perfect fit. That’s what keeps it interesting! I must remember to keep tuning in for the next exciting episode – praying and waiting that is. It’s nice to know I won’t be disappointed, because God doesn’t do reruns.
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