Being a homeowner has its rewards and its penalties. For the past three months, I have experienced what we might call the downside of home ownership.
From June through August, I stay busy orchestrating mission trips around the world. I am on call 24 hours a day in case emergencies arise. They always do.
The morning we started our summer madness, my wife took her shower and went to the kitchen to eat breakfast. While I finished my packing, she hurried back upstairs to say, “We have a problem.” Here came the singular/plural “we” again: We both had a problem, but I needed to fix it.
I rushed downstairs to see what she meant. I entered the kitchen and noticed we now had the ninth wonder of the world, Little Niagara Falls, pouring from our kitchen ceiling. The ceiling was not dripping water; it was gushing. Since Cathy and I were heading out that day to train our missionaries, the only thing we could do was turn off the water and mop up the mess.
When we returned home, we called the plumbers, who determined that the master bath on our second floor had a bad shower floor pan. Next, our insurance company informed us the tiles that covered our bathroom floor and walls hadn’t been manufactured since The Great Depression. To replace the floor pan, we would have to demolish the entire bathroom.
Here’s where things got interesting. The sheet rockers came in and rocked, the plumber came in and plumbed and our house was making progress. We now had a brand-new bathroom and a brand-new kitchen ceiling. But when the plumbers turned the water back on, down came Little Niagara Falls all over again. The cast iron pipe that extends from the shower pan to wherever pipes go had rusted out, and the stress of putting in a new drain had caused it to crumble. Now we needed more plumbers to plumb and more rockers to rock.
Finally, the shower was fixed for the second time. My wife and I were excited. The shower was all tiled, the ceiling was all sealed and we were happy homeowners once again.
A few nights later, I was awakened by the relaxing sound of our aquarium. Its gentle gurgling relieves our anxieties. That night, there was only one problem: we don’t own an aquarium!
I rushed downstairs to see the now-familiar Little Niagara Falls. For the third time in three months, we had the plumbers back to re-plumb and the sheet rockers back to re-rock. After 12 weeks of repairs, my wife and I were anxious about turning the water back on. As the sheet rockers left, we followed them out of the house, locked our door and left on a mini-vacation. We hope the problem is fixed, but we’ve experienced that hope . . . three times.
The past few weeks, I have had to check my attitude. “God, why me? I am a missionary! I go around the world starting churches and telling people about You. Don’t I deserve a leak-proof ceiling?”
Many years ago, God and I had a similar conversation, and all he told me was to “Rejoice always.” It took me 18 months to understand those two words through a mathematical formula: “Jesus plus Nothing equals Everything.” (J + 0 = E). If I make a dry ceiling the basis of my happiness and my ceiling gives way to Little Niagara Falls, I have lost my happiness. If I make stocks the basis of my happiness and my stocks go down, I have lost my happiness. If make my children the basis of my happiness and I lose my children, I have lost my happiness.
Only one thing can be the basis of your happiness and that one thing is Jesus. He said, “Never will I leave you or forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5-6). Everything in my life can be taken away but Him. Jesus is everything. He is my joy, my hope, my life. He is my peace, my rock, my protector and my all in all. Because these things are true, I can fulfill 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 and “Give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
I know many of you are going through difficult times. We often think because we are followers of Jesus, our ceilings should never produce the ninth wonder of the world and our pipes should never rust out, but it doesn’t work that way. Instead, God changes the source of our happiness or joy. We no longer find our delight in the temporal things of this world but in Him. And that, my friends, is why we can rejoice . . . always.