Our Holiday getaway was progressing marvelously until I received a call from our house sitter a couple of days ago with the disquieting news that the water at the kitchen sink was not flowing. Unfortunately, this is an all too familiar affair for us. Two winters ago, in our Indiana home, we wrestled with frozen pipes and drains for a good part of the colder months. Just the thought of having to go through that nightmare again turned my stomach. We returned home late last night and I began attempting to remedy the situation.
Today, I learned the hard way that in Colorado (at least where we live) it’s advisable to route your plumbing through the interior of the home and not inside the walls that are exposed to the outside–especially walls that face N or W. Someone must have forgotten to tell the old owners that. Luckily, the water was fine throughout the rest of the house making it a bit easier to track down the issue. After taking in the situation, I decided to cut the back of the kitchen cabinet and sheetrock exposing the pipes. I then placed a heater at the front of the cabinet in the hope that this would be enough to thaw them–no such luck. It was now 2am and I gave up for the night. This morning, I began to work at it again. This time, I cut the sheetrock ceiling in the basement directly under the kitchen sink. It took longer than I expected because the previous owners lined the ceiling with a sound deadening insulation board. At first glance, I thought it was insulation around a HVAC plenum so I hesitated to go further. After checking a few things out, I trepidatiously proceeded to cut the board. To my delight, there was no plenum. I could not have made a more perfect cut–there were the water pipes.
I was feeling pretty proud of myself. I removed the insulation then placed a heater in the space. A few minutes later–Voila! My wife yelled down that both the cold and hot were flowing. A sense of pride came over me. Once again, man against house and man was victorious. Bring it on, I can handle it–that is until I noticed that the drain pipe had burst and was leaking water into the wall. OFF, TURN IT OFF! I yelled. My joy was quickly turned to sorrow.
But that’s not the worst of it. As I stuck my head through the hole in the ceiling, I noticed extensive damage to the rim joist, two floor joists on either side of the drain and water pipes, and the sill plate. I could not believe what I was seeing. A quick defrost job instantly became a major repair horror.
I don’t know about you but that seems to be the story of my life. Every simple job turns into a major project. My wife pokes fun at me suggesting that I make mountains out of mole hills. But, in my own defense, that’s not the case. The true story is that on the surface, many jobs appear straight forward and easy. The problems arise after the first layer is pealed back. Many times, festering under the surface is greater damage than initially apparent.
Our sinful lives are somewhat like this. At the depth of our core lies wretched, filthy brokenness. On the surface, we might not appear too awful bad, but once the layers are pealed back, our true selves are revealed. Each layer goes deeper and deeper and gets uglier and uglier. In fact, it doesn’t take long before we, and everyone else around us, realizes how rotten we truly are.
I guess this is my problem with the concept of perfection. Some people believe that man can attain perfection. This leads me to inquire about whose standard of perfection these individuals attain to–theirs’ or God’s? In my life, God goes slow. He reveals a particular issue and once He gives me the victory, I’m ready for the revelation of the next issue. God is systematically pointing out all of my sins and working with me to mold me into a man of God. As I read the Bible, there will be a day when this mortal will put on immortality and this corrupt will put on incorruption (1 Cor. 15:53, 54). Until then, God is refining us (Zech. 13:9). He peals back layer after layer cleaning us up every step of the way.
When Jesus returns, His people will be at different stages of this journey. Some will have only had the first layer pealed back while others spent a lifetime of refinement. No matter where we find ourselves, be it an early worker or an 11th hour saint, God promises to make us perfect. For now, let us run the race that is set before us, striving to obtain the prize (Heb 12:1, 1 Cor. 9:24) and being grateful that God does not get discouraged by all the filth that lies buried deep within us but yearns and diligently works to set us free.