“The toilet is stopped up. I can’t get it,” she said.
That, my friends, is how it started. It was more of an SOS than an email. A cry for help. No, it was a cry for deliverance against the tyranny of only one working toilet. I can abide many things, but this thing I can not abide. I will not abide this. I am a fixer; I fix things; it’s literally what I get paid to do. My wife will have two functioning toilets by nightfall.
Full Disclosure: I do get paid to fix things. That’s a true story. However I should mention that those things are Information Technology things- web servers, PC and Server Operating Systems, coding issues tackled, coding solutions provided, technical questions answered, and technical problems solved. It’s not bragging if it’s true, and it’s true that me and God can fix some IT stuff. That fact has bred overconfidence in my abilities beyond IT and has gotten me into more than a couple sticky situations. Because when it comes to home repairs, I’m a monkey hitting things with a hammer and screaming into the night. I’m a mongoose with a reciprocating saw trying to screw in a nail.
“I’ll get it when I get home. No biggie,” I said. I mean, you take the plunger, you do your thing, boom. You’re a hero. Easy win. I’ve done it before. I’ve got this. I am the right tool for this job. I will not be defeated by a stew of toilet sadness.
“Your brother tried it, but he couldn’t get it either,” she replied warningly. ‘Woman, I’ve got this,’ I thought. I’m going to show that toilet what’s what. Get it. You’re about to see how a toilet gets plunged, suckers.
Staring into the murky abyss, I marveled, “Wow, that joker is really full.” And really full it was. Undeterred and accompanied by my brother, I grabbed the plunger and went to work. No dice. I was plunging slowly and gently so as not to breach the rim of the bowl with the sorrowful salmagundi it contained, and nothing good was happening.
“Maybe I need the other plunger,” I said. That was my rationale. It has to be that I have the wrong tool for the job. It’s not me. I need a different plunger, and then I’ll get this thing done. Moments later, instead of two working toilets, I had two disgusting plungers and a filled to the brim toilet of disappointment. Time to go nuclear.
“What are we going to do now, Don?” my brother David asked.
“We’re going to take it to the limit, little brother. Let’s get the toilet snake,” I replied. Side note: when you start quoting song lyrics from The Eagles in response to a question concerning fecal matter, you’re only setting yourself up for disaster. There was a drain snake in the laundry room. Never mind that I’d never used one. Never mind that I had to search YouTube on how to use one. This was the obvious solution.
I put the end of the snake into the goulash of suffering that was the toilet, applied some downward pressure, and started twisting the end of the snake just like I saw on the YouTube video. It went in a good bit, then stopped.
‘Ha! Victory!’ I thought. The guy on the video said that’s what would happen. Now, you twist this bit and you slowly pull back on the end of the snake to release the obstruction.
You remember those scenes in movies where something awful is happening and it goes slow motion for a bit so you see every horrible detail? That’s not just a cool movie technique. That really happens. Because the toilet was obscured with a melange of previous activities, I couldn’t see the fate that awaited me and the fate that I was about to inflict on others.
Instead of going down into the toilet drain, the toilet snake was a tangled cobra of potential energy sitting under the surface of the melancholy brew, ready to strike at an opportune time. And now was that time. I saw the end of the snake peer above the filth before me, and before I could react to the confounding information my eyes gave me, it started to unravel itself with much gusto.
The Hissing Cobra of Shame. That’s what we call it. It was flailing uncontrollably, dancing and spewing the worst things you can imagine. I closed my eyes and my mouth just in time before I was face slapped with sadness and filth. My brother, though a couple feet away, was not safe. The walls were not safe. Nothing was safe. No one escaped.
“MMMMMMMMM!!,” was all I could vocalize, as I dared not open my mouth or my eyes. It was a closed mouth scream of defeat. I’d been hit. I’d taken a direct shot. I’d been in a bad spot before, but this was a new low.
“UGHH, oh, God! It got on me!” my brother screamed.
“MMMMMMMMM!!,” I replied.
“Ahhhghck, is it on your face?” he screamed.
Indeed it was.
1 Corinthians 1:27 (NIV) “But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.”
Caked in overwhelming defeat, we did what any reasonable men would do: we slung the toilet snake out the window (left it there in the rain for a while so we could pretend nothing ever happened), cleaned up, and called a plumber. I was defeated. I was not the right tool for the job. I wasn’t the fixer.
I want to remind you that you very likely aren’t the right tool for the job, this week. Good for you. Seriously. God doesn’t call the wise to lead the way; God doesn’t call the strong to win the victory. God calls the foolish. God calls the weak. And He does it to prove a universal truth: The Victory is His Alone.
If you’re in over your head, you’re probably right where He wants you to be. That’s a tough spot to be in, and it may even look like a toilet stew of disappointment. But, He uses us to shame our enemy, much in the same way the Hissing Cobra inflicted shame and disappointment upon us. And the wall. And the shower curtain. And the floor. God proves over and over that He is more than capable, and He does it by winning victories, ministering, loving, and providing hope and the gospel through inadequate vessels like you and me.
Don’t get caught up on ‘am I good enough, or smart enough or capable enough.’ God is enough, and He wants to use you. Let Him use you to sling some poo on the enemy this week. Put yourself out there. Believe not in your ability, but believe in His ability to get the job done.