Summer. When you hear the word summer, the mind takes you down memory lane, and there are several activities that quickly come to mind that are forever associated with summer. For me, I remember spending almost every day at the pool. It was only 3 blocks from the house, well within walking distance, and we were there almost every day. As I became a dad, I found myself longing to be able to provide awesome summer memories for you…spending the hot days in a pool. It’s a little more difficult here, though. The nearest pool is 2 miles away, so it’s not like we could easily just walk back and forth throughout the day. We tried the inflatable popup pool here at the house for several years, but it seems we kept popping holes in it, so it never really worked out for us. I’d given up that dream until about three weeks ago. Some dear friends from church offered to give us their pool, because it seems they hadn’t used it in a while and knew that our family would get some enjoyment out of it. The fire in my eyes and the dream of providing a pool for you was once again alive and well.
I enthusiastically went and helped take it down, disassembling it piece by piece and bringing it home in two trips. I borrowed a hand tiller from a friend and got to work tearing up the grass and top layer of dirt. With your mom’s help, we hauled out all the loose dirt and grass, placing it in varying spots throughout the yard to build up the grade of the yard for better rainwater drainage. That process alone took two days. You all even helped in your own ways, using your snow shovels or my little hand garden trowel to move dirt from the circle into the wheel barrow. And then, the plan was put on hold.
It started out with a day of rain. And then it rained again…and again…and again. For the last three weeks, when I’ve been at work for two days straight, it’s been beautiful and sunny…great weather to be installing a pool. And then I come home…and it rains It’s rained so much that the circle of mud is taking 2 days or more to dry out after each rain. I even went out last night and spent 45 minutes bailing water out by hand with a scoop shovel. My hope was that by getting the bulk of the water out, the rest would evaporate and/or run off quicker, allowing me time the following afternoon and evening to get out to finish leveling the stones and moving dirt. Well, I’m typing this note now instead of working on the pool, so you can guess how well that worked. I woke up this morning to find as much water as the day before…before I bailed water for 45 minutes. It didn’t rain overnight, so the ground is so saturated that runoff from the neighbor’s yard and other parts of our yard is all collecting in the circle. I work the next two days, and it’s supposed to be nice and warm…no rain in the forecast. So it will have had a good 3-4 days to dry out by this weekend. My first day home is supposed to be no rain, followed by rain in the forecast the following day. I have a short window of opportunity it appears.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not completely the fault of rain that has kept me from working on it. Last Saturday was a perfect day to finish the project. Problem there was that I worked Thursday and Friday, had only 6 hours of sleep in those 48 hours, and came home to run in a 5K. After the race, my body felt like I’d just finished a half marathon. I was spent. So I laid down for a nap in the mid-morning and crashed for 5 hours. When I woke up…it started raining. I blew my opportunity to get some work done.
Last night as I was bailing water out by hand with a scoop shovel, I had bailed for about 10 minutes in one area, and I had that little low spot almost clear of all water when I stopped to revel in my accomplishment. As I sat there resting, proud of clearing the water from that hole, I noticed it. Water was slowly running back into the area. I thought the area I had chosen to toss the water would direct the water out of the yard, but it didn’t. It slowly trickled its way right back into the hole. That was it for last night. I’d bailed as much water as I could. At least the other 35 minutes of bailing water would help. Nope. By morning, water from around the yard and the neighbor’s yard had worked its way in, negating all my hard work.
Our spiritual life is like that too, I think. At least mine is. I work for days…weeks…months to develop a stronger relationship with God. I read the Bible, do a daily devotion, attend church 1-2 times a week, take part in a small group, am actively involved in several ministries, fellowship with other believers…live the life. And then wham! All that hard work is ruined by my weakness. I fall into sin again. Sometimes the fall is brief. Other times, it’s for longer periods. Either way, all my effort is negated by a momentary act of weakness. I work tirelessly and with passion to seek after God and to be more like Christ each day…and then I make a choice to let my flesh win out over Him. The water I’m bailing from the yard, comes right back. And so does the temptation to sin. In the yard, there are times I can see the water coming in, either flowing in on the surface or falling from the sky as rain. Conversely, there are times I can’t see it coming in, as it seeps up from the ground underneath the surface.
In my spiritual life, it’s really not much different. Sometimes, the temptations are right there in front of me as they flow back into my life. Other times, they seep up from the under the surface and catch me off guard. Like I have no control of the rain, there are times that temptations are placed before me outside of my will. Other times, like the water that flowed back into the hole because of where I chose to toss it, the temptations are in my life because of my own actions. Either way, how I choose to react to them is my choice alone to make.
As I write this note, it’s been almost three weeks into the pool project with very little progress. I had hoped it would take a week, maybe two at most. I’ve found myself becoming more and more frustrated in the lack of progress. Then this morning, I read Proverbs 19:21 “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.” And just like that, I’m humbled at my frustration and now see that in my frustration, I’m sinning against God. To think that I have the right to be frustrated because something is not going according to my plans. I’m learning…again…that the plans I have made are not mine to make. It’s not that I’m not supposed to make plans, because going into any project without a plan would also go against God’s will. “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you,” – Mark 14:28-29 It’s just that I need to be flexible enough…and willing…to adjust my plans, acknowledging all throughout, that God’s plans are bigger than our own, and that my plans are secondary to His. I know He has a plan for this pool, and I know it will get done…in His timing, not mine. I’m sure He is trying to teach me something through this, and I will try better to work my plan around His.
And so goes it with life for you. As you grow into adulthood, you’ll be faced with more and more decisions. As you face those decisions and choices, tackle them with God by your side. Set your own goals aside in lieu of God’s plans for your life. When you’re in the middle of something and it’s not going as you’d planned or hoped, make sure you’re respectful of what God is doing through you…and for you. Take time to reevaluate what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. Make sure your plans are aligned with God’s plans. And be prepared to embrace a change of plans now and again.