Owning and maintaining a house is a lot of work. This past week I was cleaning up the dishes before heading into work, and as I flipped on the disposal I heard a terrible gushing sound coming from under the sink. My heart sank when I looked and saw that everything underneath was soaked. In too much of a rush to investigate further, I made a mental note to ask around and figure out how to get it fixed. I came home from the church that evening ready to tackle the job on my own, with a few suggestions from coworkers. I turned on the water, climbed under the sink, and quickly discovered that this job would be much too big for me. I would have to call in the big guns (my dad) and ask for some help.
This morning my dad made the trek down to Dayton to get me out of my mess. Unfortunately, when he checked it out, his reaction was similar to mine. “You’re gonna have to call a plumber for this one!” he quickly concluded. He stood up, put on his gloves, and I was sure he was going to head back home. But out the sliding door he went, calling for me to get the drill and some gutter screws so he could attend to a few of the other things that needed fixing. I’m so thankful for my dad.
I followed him out with the things he needed, and as he climbed up his ladder I headed to the garage for a rake to finally take care of the leaves in my back yard. A big part of me wanted him to give me a hand with the leaves, but I chuckled to myself knowing that if I asked he would recite his mantra “Never do anything for someone that they can do themselves.” I knew he would tell me that I was perfectly capable of raking them on my own, so I hadn’t even botheredto look for a second rake.
As I raked and raked I thought a lot about the meaning of this phrase and how deeply it has become embedded in who I am and how I serve. It is what has made me strong. I thought about the people of South Sudan and how this same line of thinking has helped them greatly. As we worked with these people, we were always very careful about not creating dependency by offering our own quick and easy solutions. The programs that have been put in place work to empower the people; to come around them and to support them rather than to do things for them. Believe me, taking the time to explain and train rather than do was quite a task, but certainly worth it. During this last trip back, I was delighted to see the fruit. I sat in churches and, as the members of the congregation trained us, I was delighted to see their confidence and self-reliance. Empowerment is powerful.
After thirty exhausting minutes fighting the massive pile of leaves, I was torn from my thoughts by the sound of a motor. I looked up to see my dad holding the leaf blower that had been sitting in his truck all along. He returned my dirty look with a wink and a smile and went about using it to clean the gutters. All I could do was shake my head and question why he hadn’t offered me this equipment sooner and why he still wasn’t offering it to me now. I went about my work.
He eventually joined me in the yard with the powerful blower. We worked together in silence for a while before he disappeared again. He came back around the corner with a rake, also from his truck. I smiled and appreciated the fact that he always seems to be prepared to help when I need it. My curiosity got the best of me and I just had to ask why he switched tools. “The pile is just too big. It will be better if we use our own power together.” In that moment, I realized God had shown me a representation of the Trinity at work.
There are so many times when I feel like I’m fighting through things on my own. I struggle using the power within me, sometimes frustrated to think how easily God could make things right. But in the right timing, I know God steps in. He gives a hand, but asks that I don’t quit. And in those moments where the struggle seems impossible to overcome, he puts down his powerful tools and joins me by my side. I praise Jesus for that.
So, now that the hard work for the day is finished I need to say: Thanks, Dad, for making me strong.