Sometimes the most productive way to solve a problem is be silent and give God a moment of your attention.
A few days ago, I got a text from my neighbor while we were out and about.
“Hey man. Some water is leaking out of the bottom of your driveway, just wanted to let you know.”
I blew it off as not a big deal – I had drained an ice chest earlier and thought that’s what it was he was seeing…and I told him so.
“No, it really seems like it’s flowing more than that. It’s coming from below the actual driveway it looks like.”
Shoot. I sighed. Yay home ownership! I texted back:
“Okay man, thanks for letting me know. I’ll look at it when we get home this evening.”
I took a look a few hours later when we arrived home, and sure enough there was a slow yet steady stream of water emerging from beneath the concrete at the base of my driveway.
I thought it was city meter leaking at first, because I had opened up the box and it was flooded. I called the city emergency line and they said they couldn’t send someone until Tuesday since it was the holiday weekend…that was 4 days away.
The leak wasn’t gushing at a high volume, so I knew it wouldn’t be detrimental or anything to wait – I decided to wait for the city rep to show up.
She showed up Tuesday morning as promised and said everything was fine at the meter – this is an issue at the house level. Just what I was afraid of.
I called two different plumbers to come give me two different opinions, the first of which was able to come Tuesday evening after my work day. Walter reeked of cigarettes…his grey hair and leather skin spoke that he had experience and was man that knew how to work with his hands. He spent some time looking at the leak and gave me a quick run through of his estimation as to what was taking place. He had determined the direction of the main pipe heading in to the house, and showed that based on where the water was coming from, the pipe under the driveway was burst or a seal was leaking.
A driveway leak meant the home warranty company would not cover it – I was out of pocket for the repairs.
He told me the repair would require busting up half of my driveway, replacing a pipe, and re-pouring the driveway. He gave me a written quote for $2800, shook my hand, popped a cigarette in his mouth, and while climbing in his van told me to call when I wanted them to start.
I folded the estimate and put it in my back pocket, letting out a discouraged sigh. We keep an emergency fund of a few thousand dollars for just this sort of thing, but I was still very overwhelmed by the thought of such an unexpected hit.
I went to my daughter’s bedroom to give her a kiss, as I had gotten straight home from work and dealt with the plumber right away without greeting my family. She was happy to see me but quickly ran out of the room to go do something fun on the other side of the house. I had her room to myself for a moment, so I took the silence as an opportunity to wade through the stress of the bomb the plumber had dropped on me. I sat on my daughter’s bed and put my head in my hands, and whispered to God for help. I just sat in silence for a moment, frustrated.
Then I heard a faint rushing sound coming from the other side of the wall – like a shower was on or a toilet was running…but I knew neither of those were the case. My wife came in to see what I was doing, but I asked her to hang on a second as I stepped out of the room. I checked the toilet in the bathroom that backs up to my daughter’s room, and it wasn’t running or leaking…Hm.
Then I remembered that against that very wall on the outside of the house was our water hose that was used for washing our cars and watering our front of the house landscaping. In fact, I had used that hose a few days prior to hose down the sidewalk and our front porch area. I stepped outside to check the hose and sure enough…
…the spigot wasn’t turned all the way off, and it had been slowly leaking for 4 days! I felt stupid and relieved at the same time – if this was the cause of all the water dumping out at the base of my driveway, I would sure feel like a moron! Relieved though, because that meant the only expense would be the water bill and the $39 site visit fee for the plumber.
I shut the water off – for sure this time – and cleaned the mud at the site of the leak. A few hours later, all the water had evaporated from the site and proved that this was in fact the issue all along!
I know this is a bit of a stupid real world example, but in all honesty, this incident taught me two profound lessons that I wasn’t expecting.
Getting silent before God in the midst of stressful circumstances can really bring solutions in ways we can’t manufacture on our own.
If I had not sat in silence for 90 seconds, bringing this stress to the Lord in my daughter’s bedroom, I would not have been able to detect the faint rushing sound of the hose that lead me to the source of the issue. I am in no way comparing the magnitude or severity of my driveway leak to the issue of the enslavement of the Israelites in Egypt, but I was reminded of the verse in Exodus when Moses is speaking to the people as they’re escaping Pharoah. They’re stuck in front of the Red Sea, and God speaks to Moses. Moses then comforts the masses, saying:
“Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”
My best and most effective response to the problem at hand was literally sitting and doing nothing.
Secondly, it also showed me what can happen to our hearts when we allow unchecked attitudes and sin in our lives.
The hose on the side of my house was not gushing water – there was not a floodwater or rushing rapid going down my driveway. It was a slow drip, and the leak was not realized at the source, but rather 75+ feet away at the lower point of my sloping driveway. I was perplexed by this at first, because it didn’t make sense that the ground in my front yard would be dry, if the water had to pass through that area to get to the driveway.
Here’s a rough sketch to show you what I mean:
You didn’t know that I was also a world class artist, did you?!
The grass, sidewalk, and driveway on the surface above the routes of the water were all dry! Yet the leak was flooding water in to the sidewalk and street at a steady rate. My father in law is a big gardener – he spends a lot of time in the yard and meticulously cares for his landscaping. It shows: they have a beautiful yard and gorgeous property. He told me that in order to properly water trees, you need to place a slow drip, so the water can seep slowly far down below the surface and into the root system. This allows the water to seep to where it needs to go, to the roots. Essentially, that’s what was happening with my hose – it was seeping DEEP beneath the surface and flowing out of the lowest open point it could find.
Isn’t that a mirror image of what can happen when we allow hidden sin, deceit, gossip, or poor attitudes to seep into our hearts? Above the surface there may appear to be no damage, but there is a slow leak that, left unchecked, can cause a big mess. Two scriptures immediately leapt to my mind when I pondered this:
Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.
The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.
In the end, I’m thankful that the mess was fixable and containable – my own error in leaving the hose on caused some issues and stress…and I hope to encourage you today. Let the Lord have your stress – sit in silence and let Him work. It may not be as tangible or instantaneous as what I experienced last weekend, but He really is great at helping us. Finally, guard your hearts. Don’t let slow leaks cause visible problems simply because of unchecked heart issue that was allowed to drain below the surface for a long time without consequence. Check the hose!