Has your life ever felt like a leaky toilet?
Sometimes life is like a leaky toilet. This past Sunday, someone let me know one of our toilets wasn’t working right. Not a problem! I know how to fix a toilet! So, I made a trip to the local plumbing supply store. I did what we all do when we go to a place like that: I took pictures of everything and said, “I’m a pastor, so I don’t really know what I’m doing. I need one of these.”
I’ve learned that places who serve professionals are super willing to help if you just admit you don’t know what you’re doing and trust them to take care of you. It also helps if you go in the middle of the afternoon when the professionals are out working instead of buying supplies. They are usually excited to help a humble, idiot customer when the shop is empty.
I got all the parts I needed and headed back to fix the toilet. It all went together pretty well. Everything fit just right. Then, I turned the water to the building back on and adjusted the inlet valve…
It started dripping…
…And water started dripping out of the top of the flush valve…
…So, I decided to flush it…
…And the waterfall happened…
…Water just poured out of the top of the flush valve. EVERY TIME I FLUSHED!!!! UGH!!!!
I Googled. I YouTubed. Nobody on planet earth complained about this ever happening. There were a hundred other places water seemed to leak and how to fix it but nothing about water leaking out of the top of the flush valve!
What do you do when you’ve made it this far, and it doesn’t work right? I couldn’t call a plumber now! It was a matter of principle and honor!!
So, I did what any of you would have done…
…I took apart the other toilet!
I mean, it wasn’t leaking. There had to be a good reason!
The problem part…
When I got the flush valve cover off the other toilet, I put it on the problem toilet and tightened it hand tight. Then, I opened the inlet valve. No drip. That’s a good sign. I flushed. No waterfall. I had to stand back and scratch my head a minute.
I flushed again. Still no leak. And, it seemed to be flushing better than it used to. What in the world?
I took the flush valve cover back off and saw a part number… Huh. It didn’t match the part number on the cover I took off the problem toilet. I wonder…
A few years ago we purchased new flush valve assemblies for the toilets in the other bathroom. Somewhere, we still had the old assemblies laying around. The cover part number on the old assemblies matched the cover that didn’t leak… The other flush valve cover must have been the wrong part for that toilet!
And, guess what. When I got the right part on the right toilet, everything worked right. NO MORE LEAKS! I thought the problem was that I was missing some elusive skill I needed to get the toilet fixed right. It turns out I just needed the right part!
When a toilet is like a sheep
Sometimes life can be like a leaky toilet. We try everything we can, but we just can’t seem to get it right. What if the problem isn’t what we are doing? What if the problem is that we don’t have the right parts to fix the problem?!?
Let’s face it. I don’t know a lot about plumbing. Over the years, I have learned quite a bit about following Jesus, though. Sometimes, I watch believers in Jesus try to fix a problem in their lives by trying harder or making lists of rules that might make Jesus like us. The problem is that trying harder will never fix us. Instead, the part we need to fix the leaking toilets of our lives is grace. The person we need to fix it is Jesus.
In Matthew 9:36, we read about Jesus:
When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd (ESV).
In John 10:14-15, Jesus told his followers:
I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.
What’s your next step?
Without Jesus, we are missing the part we need to quit leaking. If you feel like you are “harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd,” say a prayer telling God you feel that way. Then, decide to follow Jesus by taking a next step toward him. One great next step would be to check out a bible-believing church this Sunday. Another great next step would be to call someone in your life who is following Jesus and let him or her know you want to do the same. It’s great to have a guide to help you on your journey following him. Maybe, you know a sheep who needs a shepherd. If so, your next step could be to offer to help that person trust in the Good Shepherd and follow him.
If you need helping finding grace and following Jesus, I would love to talk with you. I would be happy to pray for you. Send me a note: email@example.com.
Jonathan Atwell is Lead Pastor of CrossRoads Church of Fort Worth
CrossRoads meets at 10:15 am on Sunday mornings at
6331 Boulevard 26, Suite 250
in North Richland Hills, TX 76180