So, a few weeks ago, the ancient Orangeburg sewer pipes installed during the construction of this house in the late sixties breathed their last. The wood pulp and pitch lines were no match for the water seeking roots of the pine trees in the front yard. When the plumbers ran their light into the lines, they found a web of roots had breached the rotting pipes and obstructed the outgoing flow from the house. Nothing else to do but replace them with PVC.
No big surprise. We knew their final time drew near when the intermittent washing machine and toilet overflows had become a weekly occurrence. I actually prayed every time I flushed. Not a good situation.
One sunny morning, in rolled the Athens Plumbing truck, and the backhoe.
You see every inch of the dilapidated pipe from the house to the street had to be replaced. We already knew it’d be a big dig, because the connection to the city sewer at the road was more than ten feet deep. But, we really couldn’t believe how big it actually turned out to be.
The plumbers worked hard for most of a day, digging and laying pipe.
A few days ago, I read in James 4:3, “You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”
In Mercy Triumphs, Beth Moore writes: “Nothing has the capacity to keep us out of trouble like the certainty of God’s gaze piercing through all our pretense to the heart of our desires. Only He can sort out the blur of our motives. Let’s have the guts to ask Him what’s in our hearts and, when He reveals it, die to the self-gratification and live for the greater glory.”
I kept seeing the big dig and wanting God to do that in my heart—go down deep and unearth what might undergird any wrong motives.
Because after all, who are we kidding? God sees it all—x-ray vision right to our core.
Moore suggests that we might ask God for successful children “so we can live our lives vicariously through them.” Or maybe we want folks to say, “What wonderful children—they must have wonderful parents.”
She even suggests we might use “calling” as a guise for self-ambition. Yikes!
“God, investigate my life; get all the facts firsthand. I’m an open book to you even from a distance, you know what I’m thinking” (Psalm 139:1 The Message).
From the outside, no one would have guessed our plumbing woes. All seemed right, unless they ventured inside and caught me mopping up the washing machine rinse cycle overflow with beach towels from the kitchen floor.
Our lives can seem okay on the outside, but only God knows our wrong motives, which keep our lives from flourishing as He desires.
There's a lot more milage we could get out of the symbolism of those old pipes--like how we let our lives become clogged with all kinds of stuff from the world, but we'll save that for another day.
For now we ask, God, bring in the back-hoe. Dig down.
And help us die to all that does not honor you.