Tempted in Every Way (Hebrews 4:15)

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. (Hebrews 4:15)

This morning, I had every intention of keeping my eye on the prize, on keeping God at the center of every waking thought. I did pretty well as I got out of bed and started my day. Then, as I drove my first load of water back home, I hit a pothole. The jarring of the hole put a two-foot crack in my water tank, which proceeded to dump 400 gallons of water along the marvelous roads of Lafayette County, Missouri. God had to take a back seat to my sudden water crisis.

As I drove to Independence to buy a new tank and then drove back, trying to salvage enough time so that I could haul a load before I had to take Tom to his voice lesson. Apparently, an unannounced “Wide Load” and slow vehicle parade had been scheduled for this morning on I-70. My frustration grew and God was shoved to the trunk.

Perhaps you’re thinking that being tempted to neglect God for a few hours is hardly a big deal. I wasn’t tempted to go on a homicidal rampage, shoot up with heroin, or abandon my family. But as I think it over, if I can succumb to the temptation to thrust God out of my attention, I can probably be successfully tempted in any direction.

It’s good to know that Jesus didn’t waltz through life, living an unreal life in which the temptations weren’t genuine. He dealt with annoying people and the first century equivalent of huge trucks driving far too slow on the Interstate. He dealt with them and still did not sin. That would be depressing if I had to live up to his standard. Happily, he did it for me.

Such a Testimony (Hebrews 2:4)

God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will. (Hebrews 2:4)

Today, I got home from hauling my fourth load of water for the day. All the way on that last trip, I’d been hearing odd sounds, sounds that worried me and made me wonder if my 1996 Dodge Ram was about to give up on me. Returning to the hill, I hooked onto the hose and started the water flowing to the cistern. At that point, I glanced back to the truck and thought fondly of it. Then I noticed something rather alarming.

My front left wheel was missing three lugnuts. The remaining five looked as if they were holding on with their last turn of threading. In short, my wheel had nearly fallen off as I drove through Oak Grove with 3,500 pounds of water in the bed. Immediately I realized that somebody–me, of course–had neglected to tighten the lugs after mounting the spare last week.

I mention this today because my wheel did not fall off. I mention it because I’m convinced that my loving God protected me from my own stupidity and carelessness. Yes, I’ll have to fuss with replacing the bolts, which had their threads nearly chewed off, but that’s immensely preferable to grinding to a halt on Broadway as my wheel rolls off to its own private destiny.

Every day, God testifies to that great salvation we have through Jesus Christ by little acts of grace punctuated by occasional big acts of grace. I’m convinced that we never know exactly how many things God arranges in our lives to shield us from harm and steer us toward blessings. While we might grumble that God doesn’t shower us with hundred-dollar bills, He does many things, some of which utterly escape our attention.

My skeptical friends would simply dismiss my precarious truck wheel as good luck. Had I driven another five miles, they’ll suggest, I’d have come to a rough stop. Perhaps, but my God knew where I lived. He knew how much vibration those lugs could endure. He knew me–and more to the point loves me.

There’s a Toilet Flowing Deep and Wide

Across the hall from my office, a urinal was running on and on and on when I visited the gents’ room this morning. That same fixture had been running on Friday as I left for the weekend. Whether it ran for some 66 hours between, I cannot say, but the idea crossed my mind. As someone who has to haul his water in a 425-gallon tank atop a pickup, driving over gravel roads and braving the road construction in Oak Grove to get there, I have a very strong, very visceral reaction to the waste of water. I’ve been known to ask the kids why they didn’t drink water at Wal-Mart where it would have been free rather than swilling down 8 ounces of the precious stuff at our house.

It occurs to me that this water wastage saga speaks of a larger truth. Think about it. Who gets the most upset about wasted water? Me, the guy who has to haul it. My wife and family are reasonably frugal when it comes to the wet stuff. Individuals who actually have magical pipes that come into their home carrying the universal solvent don’t rise to my level of obsession, but they do notice. For example, when I was among the blessed connected, I couldn’t just let a toilet run or a faucet drip indefinitely. I knew the bill would arrive eventually, so I fixed the issue.

I would suggest that the larger the organization and the farther away the thinking part of the organization is from the problem, the less consternation will be caused. At a school that hosts 15,000 students on any given day, one running toilet just isn’t the biggest of issues.  Unfortunately, that same size issue can lead to other, more significant thought processes. When a school grows large, focus on the individual student becomes difficult. The same can happen in a church or a government entity.

I can’t stay close to everything in my life, but it seems that the closer I am to the production of my food, the provision of my water, or the procurement of my clothes, the more appreciative, the more conscientious, the more involved I will be.

This chatter takes my mind to Romans 5:8.  Perhaps Paul might have written “while I was still a sinner, Christ died for me.” I know, Paul was a capable enough writer to have said it that way had he wanted to. I’m probably just projecting a post-Renaissance emphasis on individualism on the idea, but it seems that the further we get from that ideal–of Christ dying not for our sins but for my sins–the more apt we are to see the running sewer of that sin not as a pressing problem but an abstract theory. There’s a lot of sin in the world, but what about me? There’s a lot of sin in the church, but what about me?

Across the hall, the water has ceased to run after a plumber removed the auto-flush unit from the fixture. Praise God, however, that the water of Christ runs forever fresh and refreshing, keeping the sewer of my life ever clean (John 4:14).