« Take _________ Out of Christmas | Main | When There Are No Formulas »

Bursting Radiators and Sopping-Wet Expectations

I didn’t know at the time how much I would need the reminder. I thought it was a timely word for the youth devotional. The message was a comparison of Mary and Zacharius. When Mary received word from the angel that she would be giving birth to the Messiah, her question was understandable. “How can this be?” Zacharius received a similar message. He asked a similar question: “How shall I know this?” They both received an answer, but Zacharius was unable to speak until the birth of his son. Mary received no such discipline. The difference: Mary believed and was asking for understanding. Zacharius didn’t believe.

When the phone call came today, it wasn’t just any ordinary Saturday. It was Cori’s birthday and in less than an hour, she would have friends arriving. Not only was the pizza not finished, but I didn’t even have her cake in the oven. Never have I been so unprepared for one of my children’s birthdays. To top it all off, I just wanted to go to bed. I have somehow managed to come down with four different ailments at once (which I won’t go into). So just finishing this task would take more energy than I really had.

Ah, but that’s not all. I had promised Jonathan two weeks ago, that we would host a Christmas Open House (okay, I confess, I love it – normally). Because I’ve been sick, I haven’t been able to do any advance preparations. So that is ahead. And sometime in the next 48 hours I had to finish laundry (without a dryer, remember) and pack, while leaving a clean house for the two Mongolian girls who will be staying here with Sadie.

As soon as I heard the ring, I thought to myself, “We can’t do anything else.” The Mongolian lady started talking to Bernie about the center and water. This would be the place to tell you that after months of renovations and endless shopping trips, the UB Student Center officially opened last night. This past week had gone so well. After the initial trips when we couldn’t find anything that worked, things were falling in place, right down to the cups with sheaves of wheat and the thermoses that matched the wallpaper. Bernie and Onon and I were so pleased to see the fruit of all our weeks of work. A lovely, peaceful place was finally ready for students to come and find a quiet place to study. Then next month, when we arrive back from the US, we could start scheduling events.

We knew that the heater in the front room had been leaking, so Bernie finished what he was doing and grabbed a few towels, expecting to go wipe up some water. He never dreamed he would open the front door and walk into a sauna. The radiator, heated by scalding hot water had burst in the middle of the night and was spraying water into the room. It was literally raining in the room from the steam that would condensate on the ceiling. The walls were wet. The furniture that we spent hours shopping for and having built was wet. Everything was wet.

With the help of teammates, Dennis and Eric, Bernie and Onon spent the next couple of hours cleaning and assessing the damage. The floors that Bernie has labored so long on will have to be redone. The ceilings that Soggi had painted for us will have to be repainted. We are hopeful that the wallpaper will not have to be replaced. Bernie’s guitar is fine (Hallelujah!) but we don’t know yet about the keyboard. The new rug is wet, but should dry, as we hope will the upholstered chairs. We believe that the wood furniture will still be usuable.

So, human nature automatically calls up the question: “Why did this happen?” and even, “Why, God, did You allow this to happen?” The question is not wrong -- as long as the heart believes. We have the opportunity to choose to believe that God is on His throne. He was not taken by surprised. He was not out-maneuvered by our enemy who seeks to kill, steal and destroy. He chose to trust us to trust Him. To know that He is more than able to work this for good and for the glory of His kingdom. We’re not sure how or when. We don’t even know if we will ever be able to say, “Oh, this is why God allowed that to happen.” What we do know is that by His grace we as a team give thanks – not for the mess, but for the God Who is able to triumph in spite of the mess. We give thanks for timely words from Scripture that are there before we know we will need them. And most of all, this Christmas, we give thanks because He is Immanuel, God with us – even in a sopping wet Student Center.

Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
All HTML will be escaped. Hyperlinks will be created for URLs automatically.