1. The plumber just left. He's been a regular visitor this week, ever since my bathroom flooded. Again. Thankfully, because my bathroom flooded twice in the first four months I lived here, I've been on diligent "flood watch" and caught it early. No damage was done and I don't have to move out. *insert deep sigh of relief.*
2. The plumber and I are becoming great friends. We have jolly laughs together because he's a jovial guy, and because bathtubs and toilets are funny.
3. If you would like to pray for me this week, you can pray that my plumber and landlord are able to troubleshoot an effective solution to all these floods.
4. The tow truck driver and I are becoming friends, too, as my car broke down again two days before my bathroom flooded. He's a friendly guy who grew up in east L.A. before he moved to the beach. He is well acquainted with the gang culture of east LA, although he was never in a gang himself, and has fascinating observations about gangs' views of justice and loyalty.
5. And hey, the mechanic and I are becoming great friends, too, Jack. He's Greek with an accent that'll make you smile. He calls me "lady."
"Tell you what, lady."
"Take care, lady."
It's rather endearing.
6. My car didn't start when I returned from my vacation in Washington. Two AAA technicians and I tried to start my car at least 20 times over a period of two days with no success. And then, as soon as we'd dropped it off at the mechanic, it started. Just like that. And it started every time the mechanic tried for three days after that.
I suppose there is a law of the universe that states that if your car won't start for days, all you need to do is drop it off at the mechanic and it will magically start.
I do not love this law of the universe.
7. In fact, I haven't loved the inconveniences of the last few days, and I've been writing rather ungrateful mental letters to God this week that go something like this:
I'm tired of car problems, floods, and bills. It is really, really not fair that you keep allowing (or making) all this bad stuff happen.
8. Writing ungrateful letters to God only feels good for about three seconds before I realize that my ingratitude is devouring my joy, and my criticisms of God are ridiculous. These are first world problems I'm dealing with — problems I wouldn't have if I weren't so privileged. And here I am complaining when my comfortable life of privilege doesn't go the way I want.
And what in the world makes the clay think it can advise the Potter?
I realized my letters to God needed to look very different. I needed to see my life with new, grateful eyes. So I imagined what sort of letter God might write to me explaining what he sees when he looks at my inconveniences.
It went something like this:
I know this is uncomfortable. Don't forget I'm closer than the freckles on your nose every time your bathroom floods, gas leaks, car breaks down, or the earth quakes. None of this stuff can happen without my knowledge. Nothing your heart feels escapes my attention and care. And nothing bad ever stays all bad. I transfigure it and use it to do good things. This week I am doing good things.
Count the friends you've made since you moved to this bungalow. There are the neighbors you stayed with during the earthquake, the neighbors' workmen who helped you push your car, the AAA technicians, the tow truck driver, the mechanic, the folks at the car rental place, and the plumber and his entourage.
I don't want you to stay cloistered away in your bungalow, depressed from the illness you've experienced and disconnected from your community. Your tendency is to withdraw when you're tired and discouraged, and I want you to live fully, in relationship with the people out your front door. I will save you from the consequences of your tired tendencies, and I'm using these inconveniences to do it. I am merciful.
I also want you to experience the health I've given you. Look how you've handled all this! You wouldn't have had had the health to do it at this time last year. And you wouldn't know what your body is capable of if you didn't have to navigate these frequent inconveneinces. Notice the healing work I've done in your body, and take heart.
I'm doing good work inside of you, but I'm also doing good work outside of you. There are lots of people in your community who don't know how much I love them. They need to know, somehow. Gas leaks, car problems and floods are a few of the ways I pull people together so the people who know my love can tell the people who don't know it yet just how wonderful and unfailing my love for them is. Every inconvenience could be an opportunity to share the world's Best Ever News with a soul that needs to hear it.
And finally, you never know, Sarah, but that the money you pay one of the people who have solved your problems is an answer to his prayer for financial provision. I'm always at work doing things you can't see. Good, awe-full things.
I love you to the moon and back. Actually, from heaven to earth and back again. Don't you ever forget that.
9. This morning I opened my Bible to Luke 21:12-13 in which Jesus foretells wars and persecution of Christians. He states,
"But before all this they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name's sake. This will be your opportunity to bear witness."
My problems are so insignificant compared to the suffering of persecuted Christians. And yet God uses their startlingly painful problems to complete his Great Commission. Surely he can use my first world problems to do the same.
10. Slowly, I'm beginning to view my inconveniences with gratitude for the good things God is certainly doing. It's easy to fall back into anxiety and ingratitude though, so I regularly have to look for the signs of God's goodness in my life.
11. Get a load of this proof of God's goodness:
I was walking to my car after work earlier this week when I saw this sign:
This may be the most brilliant mission trip fundraiser I've ever seen.
I was in puppy heaven.
(Quick, go find a pet store, and go inside and stay awhile!)
14. Thanks for sharing the good and the bad with me today, my friends. Happy Thursday (almost-Friday!) to you. And if it's not happy, I pray that, at the very least, it's full of grateful joy.
© by scj