[Note: Just to clarify, I’m using “Nicaragua” in a purely metaphorical sense, as you’ll notice if you read on.]
Years ago, I bought a book on short-term mission trips in preparation for one of my trips. In a few chapters, the author wrote about his medical missions trips in Central America. I was struck by the way he described a colleague’s six hour trip into town to procure a hammer for their building project. Instead of being thrown off balance by the wild goose chase, the man found opportunities to talk about the Lord to those he met along the way. I’ve been on three short-term trips: two to Mexico and one to Canada. During those trips, I found that it is sometimes (not always) easier to “go with the flow” on a foreign field than at home.
In Quebec, somebody spit on me at their door and I was chased by dogs. It didn’t matter; it was missions. In Mexico we drove into the mountains, only to realize that there were no maps to where we were. It didn’t matter; it was missions. In Oklahoma, I get a flat tire or the water bill is high one month, and I get UPSET. It’s my life and things are interfering with it. Well, it really isn’t, but that’s how we think, isn’t it?
That’s the wrong attitude. I remember the trips to Quebec and Mexico and the stories about Central America, and I realize that even here in Oklahoma, we’re living in God’s world, in His time, for His purposes. And I desperately want to live as I would on a foreign field—by Matthew 6:25-34, which ends with, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (NKJV).
I’ve been focused on that since moving to Norman, trying to view life in Norman as I would Nicaragua or Nepal. And I have been succeeding a lot, though not always. Then came the snow.
Oklahoma was hit by another blizzard last week, much like the one around Christmas 2009. We had about 16″ of snow and ice overnight. Two days later, our pipes froze because I forgot one night to leave our faucets dripping. We woke up last Thursday with no water. I started to panic. We did what all good Americans do in a time of crisis; we went to Walmart. They were out of bottled water, space heaters, and everything else needed for winter.
I calmed down and prayed. I decided to hold out for a few days and try to thaw the pipes. I told Kristian, who is seven months pregnant with our third child, to go to Moore and stay with my parents, since they had water. She insisted that she would stay with me. We bought a large jug of water for drinking and cooking. She brilliantly determined that we could melt snow on the stove for washing and for flushing the toilet.
I worried about the gas bill, as we had turned up the heater to warm the pipes. I worried about the cost of burst pipes. I worried. Then I prayed. God brought me peace, and a good deal on a heat gun.
Later that day, I found myself working on the plumbing and thanking Him that we still had heat in the house, a place to stay, and a way to melt the snow. Kristian and I worked together to clear the snow off of the ground covering our main water line. And I went to sleep that night a much calmer person than when I woke up.
We woke up at 5:30 on Friday morning to the sound of water surging through the faucets I had left on the night before. I had forgotten about the cold water feed for the washing machine (which is not attached to a washing machine), and found our utility room flooded. I turned the faucet off and mopped up the water. I was surprised to find myself, not complaining about the flood, but thanking God that we had water again.
God taught me a lot about thankfulness, peace, and worry when it snowed in my “Nicaragua.” I have a new found thankfulness for the heat and water we take for granted, a wife who’ll stay by my side when things get difficult, and a heavenly Father who protected me from the potentially costly consequences (broken pipes) of my forgetfulness. I don’t say these things in boasting. I have been through trials before when I responded with everything but thankfulness. But God has taught me a lot, and He often has to teach me the hard way.
So take this encouragement from me: stop worrying, trust God, and be thankful. Oh, and pray for us as we prepare for the blizzard, round 2, which comes tomorrow.
“Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?” (Matthew 6:27, NKJV).