Tuesday, August 02, 2005


Sometimes You Have To Bail
by Janice Price

There’s something about determination that sets the blood pumping and the neighbors wondering, What is that strange woman doing?

In this incident, “that strange woman” used a crowbar to lift the heavy cover over the water meter, only to find the deep hole three-quarters full of water. The uncovered meter could not be read through the water and mud, so I traipsed into the house several times. First I returned with a large measuring cup — the one used for kitty litter, not the one used for food! — to bail water. It must have been a sight for passing motorists to see a not-so-young woman on hands and knees, bailing water out of the hole almost as fast as it was running back into the hole. (We have had some heavy rains recently.)

On subsequent trips to the house, I returned with a flashlight, pen and paper, a paper towel to wipe mud from the face of the meter, reading glasses and — finally — a magnifying glass. I bailed water after each trip.

Whew! The city’s utility bill was wrong. They did bill me for an extra thousand gallons of water and sewer usage.

In case this sounds petty, let me explain there was a stagnant water pool on the city’s side of the meter that they fixed earlier in the month. I went through the same procedure when I discovered the leak — minus the multi-bailing task — checking the meter reading against the last bill, hoping it would not show there was a leak on my side of the meter also. When the new bill arrived, either the city was in error or I had a slow water leak.

Today is Saturday. My choices were to either worry all weekend about the possibility of a leak or entertain the neighborhood. I chose to grab a crowbar and try to find an answer.

The first time I was billed for extra gallons of water was after a hot water pipe burst. It was caught early. I paid the bill without complaint, aware it could have been much higher.

The second time I was billed for a few thousand gallons over and above my normal usage. I called the city and was told they would not re-read the meter, but not to worry because if it was wrong, it would be corrected on the next bill. The problem was that my budget didn’t include “not-to-worry” water and sewage, and the metal cover was too heavy for me to move to check the reading to prove my point. I know; I tried.

So I worried; then I prayed. Martha stopped by and popped the cover for me. I called the city back and gave the correct reading. The meter was re-read and the bill adjusted.

The budget wasn’t quite so tight the next time I was overbilled. I did nothing and the proper adjustment came through the following month, without any effort on my part. If there wasn’t the concern about a water leak, I wouldn’t have bothered crawling around in the mud and wet grass bailing water today. The error should be corrected next month.

Some things in life are like that. If you leave them alone, they are resolved without any effort on your part. Other times you need to speak up and let people know there is a problem that needs attention. And then there are those times when you need to take action, to do something to help yourself, even if it entertains the neighborhood.

Yes, we can and should give our problems to God. Sometimes we have no means to resolve them. We do not see the whole picture or have all the facts, nor can we change another person’s mind or heart Some things we have to just leave with God and trust him to work them out.

But the fact is that in many cases we have to trust God to lead us and guide us through the problem. He is not coming tomorrow morning to wake me gently, brush my teeth, fix my breakfast, shower and dress me for the day. Nor will he phone the city office to notify them there is an error in my bill, or bail water out of the hole so I can read the meter. Some things I have to do for myself.

The first time there was a problem I needed physical help to remove and replace the cover and God sent someone to assist me. No action was required the next time, but if the city had not sent a corrected bill the following month, I would have notified the city their meter reader needed to send his equipment back to meter reading school. By the third time, I was physically stronger, able to use a crowbar to remove the lid and to turn the lid over into place when I finished. Action was required.

Head knowledge is what we learn in the physical realm; it is stored in the brain. I was going to use the term “Spiritual knowledge” here, as knowledge that comes from God — usually through his word but also through the “still, small voice within or wise Spiritual counsel — but I ran the term through Google and discovered that is not necessarily a Christian term today. So I will call it heart knowledge instead.

Wisdom is what we do with knowledge. Part of Spiritual wisdom is discerning when to act and when to wait on God, which direction to take back to him when we have wandered off the path, and which voice to listen to when indecision clouds our thinking.

Wisdom isn’t a crash course, especially not Spiritual wisdom. This is acquired through a deepening relationship with God. We learn to listen, to hear and to heed. I’m not an expert on the subject. I’m still taking the course with the rest of God’s children. Some days God’s direction is rest and I plow full-steam ahead into danger. Other days I’m dragging and complaining. The good days are when a lesson is learned because I was alert and responsive.

This was a good day.

© 2005 Janice Price

No comments: