What's That Stench?
Seventy six hundred dollars? This must be some kind of mistake.
My renter called me concerning a septic tank problem, so we promptly got a company to the property to pump it out. After doing so, the technician said it looked like we might have a problem with the outlet tee. After discussing what it would take to fix that, he offered that the system, being old, might require new field lines. He went on to speculate that there might not be room in the back yard, and he might have to install a pump and run them into the front yard. That’s when the dollar figure, stronger than the surrounding smell, almost knocked me down.
Well, being the entrepreneur that I am (read that too cheap), I decided that I could fix the union, and thus the problem myself. I bought a 4” union, 10’ of pipe, some pipe glue and some hydraulic cement. I also brought along my Sawzall, shovels, a tarp, a crowbar, rope a mixing bucket and trowels.
Let me state, for the record, that I am not endorsing any homeowner to work on their system. Septic tanks are called septic for a good reason. They are toxic. They can make you sick. They can even kill you.
That stated, I and my renter, who had some experience with these things, and could not be persuaded that it was not his responsibility to help, began. After some digging, we very carefully removed the tank lid. Then the real digging began outside the tank.
Several hours later, we had a hole about 3 feet deep and 7 or 8 feet long. The pipe outside the tank was broken to the point of being virtually non-existent. Obviously, there was a lot of wet sludge that needed to be removed. I was ready to call in an excavation man to dig just before I found some existing pipe at the far end of the hole. If you have ever had to dig something deep like this, you know what I’m talking about.
Back at home, my wife was calling around for backhoe operator prices. She called me just as I uncovered the solid pipe, and I relayed the good news. She said she just talked to a Christian excavator who lived right around the corner, and he offered to come take a look.
In a few minutes he arrived and surveyed the mess. He pointed to a spot about 10 feet away, and in the opposite direction. “Your other field line is going to be running right about through here. I’ve done several of these older systems in this neighborhood, and I hate to say it but your field lines probably need to be replaced. If you dig down about 2 feet or so you should hit gravel. If you find water in the gravel, you might as well stop all that digging you’re doing. You’ll need new lines.”
I thanked him and he went on his way. I dug where he marked, and sure enough I soon hit gravel. He was spot on. And yes, it was wet. After the renters and I stared for awhile, we finally put the cover back on the tank. I gathered up my tools, put the material back on my truck, and after assuring them I would have someone out there first thing tomorrow, I left to return my material.
It wasn’t until I was back home in my shower that I began to process the events of the day. Obviously, there was anxiety over who I would get to fix it and how I would pay for it. Let me say here that I believe it is always our right to pray and believe that God will deliver us from our trial. However, once denied, it is our privilege to believe God will deliver us through our trial. That, though, is another devotion.
The other thought that came to me was – the stench! All day long I smelled it. In the truck after the job I smelled it. In the store returning material I smelled it. And even after a hot shower, though only in my mind, I smelled it.
It made me wonder, “Do I ever smell this bad spiritually?” The Bible declares in 2 Cor. 2:15 that we are a fragrance to God and to those around us. If my association with my septic system for a day caused me to reek, how do my spiritual associations smell? What habits and associations are affecting my fragrance? I know God can discern my fragrance when I walk out of line with scripture. I wonder if others around me can discern it too. I made a decision to take a hard look at my spiritual life and to guard my heart more closely in the future. I want to be a sweet smelling fragrance. I don't like to stink.
You’re probably wondering how the septic system turned out. Well, the end hasn’t been written yet. We will need new lines (about $4,000 - ouch!) But we have been faithful tithers and givers, so we know “he will open up the windows of heaven and pour us out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” (Mal. 3:10)
We serve a faithful God so I know one thing; whatever happens we’ll come out smelling like a rose.
*Thanks for reading. Any comments or crits would be greatly appreciated.