Here at Mama’s Empty Nest we experienced a rude awakening one morning. Hubby gently roused me and asked if I had to work that cold, winter day. Bewildered and groggy, I replied, “No, why?”
“Good thing,” he answered. “We have no hot water.” As he shivered from a cold shower and quickly dressed, I gathered my wits.
A trip to the basement revealed a flood surrounding the vicinity of the hot water tank. Great. Hubby hurriedly moved nearby items away from the source and started squeegee-ing water towards the basement floor drain. I moved light boxes out of the way and tried to see how far the water had spread.
Our basement is full – and I do mean full – of all kinds of things in storage. Our nest basement has been a revolving door with our adult children’s moves since they used it as a depository for all of the extra stuff they didn’t need yet or don’t have room for. So boxes, plastic tubs, furniture, small appliances, and all kinds of what-nots await in monstrous piles to be transported to their permanent homes when they finally get settled.
I quickly surveyed oldest daughter’s piano making certain it was out of harm’s way. Drat, I thought. All that stuff would have to be moved around and some wet carpeting hauled to the garbage. In addition, damp boxes would need opened to make sure nothing was damaged. Not in my plans for the day, that’s for sure. And my achy back and hip were bothering me again. Plus there would be the expense of purchasing and installing a new hot water heater. What a way to begin the day!
In the kitchen hubby heated water in the teakettle so he could shave and leave for work while I perused the yellow pages in search of a repairman. After a couple unsuccessful calls, I talked to a gentleman who lived nearby. “I’ll be over in just a few minutes,” he promised.
True to his word, this repairman arrived not long after I jumped out of my jammies and into some clothes. He assessed the situation quickly and announced he’d return with a new water heater, but he would bring help as he recently had emergency surgery and wasn’t able to lift heavy objects.
I expressed how sorry I was for him, but he replied with a laugh, “Oh, it could be worse!” I couldn’t get over how chipper he seemed, an optimist no doubt. He was downright jovial and laughed easily as we chatted. Must be one of those early morning people, grumpy me decided.
Returning with two friends and a brand new water heater in tow, the repairman promptly began installing it while we discussed how things don’t last, how outrageously expensive items are, and how we get less for our money nowadays. “Oh well,” he said, “it could be worse.”
He repeated those words several times in the course of our conversation. Finally, he revealed the reason for his mantra. A few months earlier, a man had been working on a gas line and the deep ditch he was in collapsed onto him. He was encased in soil, unable to move for quite some time, until rescue workers were able to free him.
That man was my water heater repairman. As he casually mentioned it, claustrophobic me was shocked. I exclaimed that I would have died from fright. To which he replied, “You know, I could have died, but I didn’t even have one broken bone from the weight of all that dirt on me. I figure God wanted me to stay here for something. It just wasn’t my time.”
And he laughed. He. Laughed. This man stared down death and instead of being paralyzed by the trauma of what had happened to him, he rejoiced in life. His demeanor was full of joy. Joy for life. Joy for his work. Joy for each day.
He continued by saying that he doesn’t get upset over things like he used to. Those things are trivial, he explained and he repeated, “It could always be a lot worse.”
Immediately, my mind turned to scripture – “…for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” ~ Nehemiah 8:10 What a lesson I was given early that morning. Waking up to no hot water and a flooded basement floor disrupted my plans, but it wasn’t the end of the world. I had water, I had a warm home, I had all the other necessities of life right at my fingertips.
And I had a prompt and able repairman who installed my new water heater and had it working by 10:15 that morning. I appreciated his quick response and his ability to restore my hot water. But you know what? I appreciated the lesson God gave me about joy through the words of that repairman even more. The Lord reminded me that no matter what trouble comes my way, when I choose to rely on Him and His strength, there’s always joy to be found.
Joy is a choice made with the Lord’s help and His strength.
Linking up with the blog theme today at (in)courage.