Friday, March 11, 2016

God Uses Everything, Even Manwich: Flooding, Bailing, and Moving Leaves




When Ryan graduated from high school, we discussed options for a senior trip. I knew that not everything that happened on a typical senior trip was good, so I proposed an outing that was irresistible. I would take him to Nashville for Music Fest. Tons of country music stars, as well as those who would be and wanted to be, were singing. Multiple venues both in and out of doors. A week of music. Great fun.

In between one venue and the other, there was a Manwich booth. They gave away mini-sandwiches to introduce people to the wonders of Manwich. Ryan loved it. We stopped by for so many Manwiches that I expected them to ban us.

I've kept a can or two of Manwich in my cabinet ever since.

Yesterday, company was coming for a dinner meeting and I was mulling through ideas to use a package of thawed ground beef. I spied a can of Manwich and had my answer. Several hours later, I remembered I had buns in the freezer. It was raining far too hard to drive to the store, so I headed to the well pump house to get the buns out of the freezer.

Here's where the crazy part comes in. If I hadn't gone to Nashville back then, I wouldn't have had Manwich in my cabinet. If I hadn't had Manwich in my cabinet, I wouldn't have made it yesterday. If I hadn't made it, I wouldn't have gone to the freezer for buns.

If I hadn't gone to the freezer for buns, I would not have discovered (at just the right time) an incredible flood.



You can't tell it from the photo, but the water is well up the side of the five gallon bucket. When I arrived at the pump house, the water in front of the building was half-way to my knees. If the water had flooded the pump house, it could have easily reached the well pump and my freezer. My heart sank. A disaster was unfolding.

I had a five-gallon bucket handy (because of another unforeseen event) and started bailing. After 50 gallons or so, I realized I needed to do something else.

Leaves had piled up on the side of the road and had blocked the normal drainage. I tried to divert the flow of water with limited success. I prayed for the rain to stop and for God to send some help. When the rain didn't stop, I yelled. A little like the prophets of Baal. It was pointless. God heard me the first time. 

I thought unkind thoughts toward the man who owned the farm before me and built the pump house in a very low place. 

I hate to admit it, but after more than 200 gallons of bailing, I considered, for a few seconds, a very un-Leanna thought toward this man. This thought did not come from Jesus, but I embraced it briefly. I've had a lot of problems over the years from his building-in-a-hole scheme and, yesterday, I was sick to death of it. (I'm not even going to tell you what it was because I don't want it in your head.)

I had to repent over the not-nice-thought, even though it only lasted a few seconds. (I wish I always thought and acted like Jesus, but I'm human, too, just so you know.)

I kept bailing. I was wet through. Water dripped off my hair and clothes and filled my boots. I sat down on the bucket and cried, but the water started rising again, so I had to skip the crying and start bailing again. I prayed non-stop. 

Forty-five minutes into my bailing episode, I finally admitted defeat and called the man who helps me on my farm. 

He arrived, grabbed a shovel, and diverted the flow of water in less than five minutes. After a few minutes more, the water level began to recede. He stopped, leaned on his shovel, and looked just a little fierce. 

"If you had called me ten minutes after this started, you wouldn't have spent so much time bailing. I already told you I'd come if you needed help."

There wasn't much I could say to that.

"One thing to remember. It's always a good idea to fix the cause of the problem instead of just attacking the problem."

Lecture over, shovel in hand, he helped me fix two more areas of water accumulation that I'd tried (unsuccessfully) to divert.

I've thought about this a lot since yesterday, and I've found several lessons in this event:

1) When you fantasize about a not-nice-thought toward someone, it's sin and you have to repent. We're supposed to take every thought captive, even in the midst of bailing water like your life depended on it. Taking captive means instantly, not after you've enjoyed the fantasy for a while. 

2) There was a little water in my pump house, but if I hadn't cooked the Manwich and gone for buns, there would have been a lot more. I could have lost my pump and my freezer but I didn't lose either.

God had made a way that began years before and finally unfolded yesterday. He wastes nothing. He uses everything. Even Manwich.

3) If I had dealt with the leaves at the beginning of the problem (or before), it would have been a shorter-lived problem. He was right. It's always better to treat the cause rather than just the symptom. As a physician, I should know this better than most. 

Sometimes, our sin makes us feel bad. Physical symptoms. Emotional pain. The only thing that will make us better is to remove the sin. So, remove it as definitively as we removed the leaves.

4) We can't do it all alone. The bride of Christ, the church, is described as a "body" because we all work together. There are no lone rangers in the body. A hand is useless without a foot. My bailing bucket was useless without a shovel. 

There is a huge job facing the body of Christ. A dark and lonely world is desperate for the hope that can only be found in Jesus. We can share Him with them, but only if we work together to make it happen. 

5) God heard me and was with me when I prayed, when I cried, when I yelled, when I bailed, when I despaired.

He was there. Just as the discovery of the problem had been orchestrated years before, so the solution had been in the making for years, too. There's nothing we face that God has not already made a way through.

Take heart today, God is with us. He cares. He provides. He is here.

"Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Deuteronomy 31:6 nasb

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