The parable of the plugged drain

Jesus loved to teach in parables. He used the issues and concerns of everyday life of the people of Israel to lead them to deeper thinking and understanding of who God is, who they were, and how they should be. So sometimes an annoyance in everyday life can be useful to teach us a spiritual lessons.

I got such a lesson last night. Like I have said, I hate it when God builds my character. 🙂

I remembered that I had some papers to grade and hadn’t finished translating my passage in Luke for Sunday right before Sarah’s kenpo class (where I am a mentor and instructor helper). So I decided to come home rather than stay for adult class. ::sigh:: Kenpo is my stress relief, but duty first. Laura has worship team practice Tuesday nights so I knew I could grade and study without robbing her of quality time.

We got home and I heard that Elizabeth had made dinner. That is a good thing; she’s a darned good cook! This is the kid who made steak au poivre for her 12th birthday for the family that was one of the best meals I have ever eaten. She cooks all the time, so this was just par for the course.

She had apparently burned a whole pot of rice, though, and had to remake it in the course of making dinner. I never went into the kitchen because Elizabeth had everything under control. Dinner was great, I got my papers graded, and eventually got the kids off to bed after evening prayers. Then I finished translating Luke 7:36-50 and decided to wait up for Laura to come home (she hangs out with the Deegans after practice). She got home at about 11:30 and I was TOTALLY wiped and ready for bed.

Laura was wiped too, but wanted to load the dishwasher before bed because she is a mom and not a dad. She noticed that the sink was completely filled with water. Okay, no problem…I will just run the disposal. That didn’t help. Then we noticed that BOTH sinks were backed up in the kitchen. ::sigh:: that means the drain is plugged. It is 11:45. Really? I have to deal with this now?

Laura got the plunger. I plunged and plunged. Lots of rice flowed from the disposal. No luck on the clog. I turned to my darling wife with a tired growl and said “The pea trap is plugged with rice. I need to take that drain apart.” Now if your kitchen sink is like mine, there is a cornucopia of cleaning products, dishwashing soaps, and various asundry things under the kitchen sink. Ours also has our RO drinking water system. Everything but the RO had to come out and be scattered about the kitchen.

At least the drain was PVC instead of metal. Small favors, right?

Sure enough, the drain was jammed with rice. The pea trap all the way back up to the disposal was crammed with rice goo. Did you know that burned rice turns into the consistency of papier mache when crammed down a drain? Yeah, it does. It took us until about 12:30 to get it apart and then put back together. I knew that I wasn’t going to get to run in the morning because of it, and I was covered to the elbows in sewage. Not a great night, and I battled some significant frustration with Elizabeth because of it.

Then I started thinking about it theologically and as a parent. She was trying to do good and take care of the problem of the burned rice; she has put a lot of gunk down that garbage disposal before with no problems. She didn’t know the consequences of her actions. In our family lingo, she was ignorant (not knowing what to do) not stupid (knowing what to do and choosing to do something else). She needed instruction on what to do next time, not a tongue lashing. She needed to know the consequences, but if I scolded her and chewed her out it would not make the drain magically fixed. No, she needed a reminder, a lesson, and encouragement from her dad that I still was glad that she had served her family by making us dinner.

This hit me even harder when I put it in perspective with what I experience from God. Off I go, trying to serve Him and be what He wants me to be for His people. I try to live a separated life, be a good husband and dad, be the pastor He wants for His church in Glendale, the professor He wants for His school in Phoenix, and the friend and mentor and coach that honors Him. In all my good intentions, though, how many times do I make a mess of things unintentionally? How often my ignorance leads to a spiritual mess that I am ill equipped to clean up.

How often does Jesus forsake His own desires and needs to serve me and right my wrongs? (don’t read too much into that statement about Jesus forsaking His desires…no scathing Calvinist rebukes about God’s Sovereignty please!) I can imagine Him being frustrated with my ignorance; after all I have a degree in Biblical Communication so I should know better. Yet I know that His infinite love and patience provides for my mistakes. (my stupidity too…thankfully Elizabeth didn’t go that route so the parable doesn’t really apply to that)

Now when I look at that sink and that drain I don’t see frustration and upset over my tiredness. I see instead a lesson from God about patience and provision, ignorance and restoration. I was able to solve the problem with some teflon tape and a fork to remove the yuck; Jesus paid a far greater price for me than I ever will for my kids.

I just love it when He speaks in modern parables in my life, even though they sometimes get me covered in sewage. Thanks, Lord, for leading and showing me who You are and how You love me.

3 thoughts on “The parable of the plugged drain

  1. Thank you for seeing this as a tool that God could use!! I love your heart to see Him at work even in the frustrating times. 🙂 AND you saved us at LEAST $200 by being the plumber. You ROCK!

  2. Oh Man! I’m sorry that we kept Laura so late so that couldn’t get dealt with earlier. I can definitely understand the frustration with the situation, but I think it’s awesome that you could see the bigger picture and relate that to your walk with God.

  3. John that story was awesome. It just makes me realize how much more I miss having you guys so close. You guys rock.

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