Last week, I became a homeowner for the first time. So last weekend, there I was sprawled on the kitchen floor, dishwasher parts all about me, like some mad, robot-building scientist. I didn’t take the dishwasher apart for fun because, trust me, it wasn’t any fun. I took it apart because that is what homeowners do when things break: they take them apart, piece them back together, and then nod approvingly as they work even better than before. Something like that, right? I AM MAN, WATCH ME FIX THINGS! It was guttural and primal and fulfilling, and lengthy. Yep, took hours stacked on hours.
My hunch was that the hard water in the home—of course the water softener isn’t working . . . that is this weekend’s task—had clogged everything up. So I took all the parts off and gave it a good deep cleaning. Yeah, that ought to do it.
But that didn’t do it. It didn’t do it because there was a screw missing! I found it and EUREKA! I went straight to the hardware store. Yep, on a rainy Saturday night I go to the hardware store—I AM ALL THAT IS MAN! I AM A HOMEOWNER! I found the screw, and several other cleaning items. Turned a $.04 purchase into $26.18: HEAR ME ROAR!
I replaced screws and scrubbed the grime from the washer and the skin from my hands, grunting and gulping down the pizza rolls my wife insisted I eat, having skipped dinner and all with my labors. My pants even began to creep precariously toward plumber status:
Then I put everything back together and ran a few CLR cleaning cycles in order to pry off any lingering calcium deposits. High sheen, that is what I was after.
And at the end of all this, at the finale of this elbow-grease capsule of my life, it was time for blissful payoff. But you know what? There wasn’t any. The props were not spinning; the dishes were not being cleaned. Water sat in the bottom, indolent and lazy, mocking me and my efforts. As the dishwasher churned through a useless cycle, it almost sounded like it was laughing at me.
Turns out the pump is out. The drain works—I know that because I poured about five hours down it. But the pump, man, the pump is shot. Nothing I did really mattered because the gosh-darn pump was out the whole time! Sure, you could eat out of that washer. Sure, it shimmers. Sure, the screws are taut, oh-so-frickin’-taut. But the pump, the pump, the pump is busted. Out. Caput. Used. Donezo. Broken. The pump is out.
And so it goes with life all too often. I’ll polish my mannerisms; I’ll tighten my behaviors. I’ll go after all sorts of things, when ultimately the pump is the problem. Man looks at the externals, but the Lord looks at the heart. That is what the Bible says when David is chosen as the next King of Israel. It is the heart that matters, the pump. I’ve toiled and toiled on this and that, I’ve polished the crevices. I’ve spent time and money and I’ve worn myself thin trying and trying and trying and trying . . . tiresome trying that ends nowhere . . . or worse, it ends where it all started: a broke-down dishwasher and cabinet full of grimy bowls and plates.
Last night I ordered a new dishwasher. It was more money than we have, what isn’t? We’re new homeowners, after all. But it was the answer. I needed a new pump for an old, weary machine, and that costs enough to warrant just starting over altogether.
God says He will take our heart of stone and replace it with a heart of flesh. He’ll order the new pump and make me a new creation. A new washer, with pristine dishes. But it doesn’t come down to me trying harder or turning all the screws. It comes from resigning myself to Him completely: to dropping the DIY ego-mania; to stop pumping my hollow chest.
I’m excited about my new dishwasher. May the same excitement bubble and rinse over me concerning the work being done on my heart. And now to that water softener . . .