It’s unseasonably cold where I live. We’re getting snow, sleet and freezing rain. That is such a rarity in South Texas so people are bundling up, going outside to play in the dusting of snow and trying to build a snowman with a fistful of the cold, white stuff. It is craziness.
Last night as I went out in the backyard with the dogs “one last time” before bed, all was quiet – except for the roar from my neighbors’ pools. And the sound took me back. Back to another cold Texas night…
My husband was out of town and I woke up in the middle of the night and knew something was amiss. I lay in bed and tried to figure out exactly what was amiss. It was a strange noise. A noise I couldn’t ever remember hearing.
Where was it coming from?
The sleep fog started to lift and I realized the sound was coming from my backyard. I got up, threw a robe on and peered into the backyard. I squinted and listened. The sound was definitely coming from my backyard. I turned on the floodlight.
What in the world?
We had just added a pool to our backyard a few weeks before the temperatures plummeted. The floodlights revealed our pool spa was bubbling and spewing water. The blower on the spa must have been at maximum force. The water was bubbling over the edge and spewing water everywhere.
We had a control panel in our bedroom so I went to it and frantically started to push buttons. I pushed the button to turn off the spa. Nothing. I pushed it again. Nothing.
The spa was going nuts – forcefully spewing water everywhere. I thought the whole neighborhood would wake up.
I pushed the “off” button again. Nothing.
I tried to explain to him what was going on. He tried to shake off the deep sleep enough to make sense of what I was saying.
“The spa is going nuts! The blower is on full force and spewing water everywhere!”
“Then turn it off,” came the sleepy reply from across the country.
Yeah, wish I had thought of that.
Once I explained I had certainly done my best to turn it off, my hubby told me I should go to the power panel and turn off all the power to the pool.
It was about 28 degrees and three o’clock in the morning but I bundled up in my robe and some slippers (promptly getting them wet as I padded through the puddle the spewing spa was creating.) I crossed the yard and went around behind the garage to the pool power panel. I couldn’t see a thing. Back to the house for a flashlight. Back to the panel.
Did I mention it was really cold? (Twenty-eight degrees in Texas feels like minus five degrees anywhere else in the country – in case you haven’t experienced it.)
I found the lever to pull down and turned off the power to the pool. Aww, sweet middle-of-the-night-quiet.
Back to bed I went. As I lay in bed trying to warm up, I called my husband to report my success and promised to call the pool guy and explain how our pool spa malfunctioned in the dead of the night.
First thing the next morning, I left a message for the pool guy to come out and check out my broken spa. And he did. And I discovered my error. And he laughed. Me, not so much.
The whole time the spa was violently bubbling and spewing, I thought something was terribly wrong and it was broken. But the pool guy informed me the spa was designed to come on during cold temperatures in order to keep the pipes from freezing.
I had turned off the freeze protection!
By “fixing” the broken pool, I nearly broke the pool. I stopped the safety mechanism that was in place to protect. I had removed the protection.
Sometimes we do the same things in our own lives by taking the mechanisms put in place to protect us from hurts and heartaches and we ignore them. The practical things God designed to keep us safe in this life, we ignore.
Often, people think of the Bible as a book of “do nots” and “should nots” and God as the biggest fun sucker of all. I get it. I don’t really like rules. Just ask any one that knows me well and they’ll tell you. But God’s rules are different. I know they keep me safe from myself.
I’ve had people tell me they don’t want God or a book to tell them what they can or can’t do. Often those people have struggling or broken marriages. Or they struggle with addiction. Or feel hopeless, depressed and anxious. Or they lack purpose or self worth. They want to live their lives the way they want to live their lives – often blaming God for their hardships.
God is a loving God who only wants the best for us. He knows that, left to our own devices, we mess up – a lot. He’s had years and years and years of watching His creations mess up.
God gave us parameters to live by for our good – just like I established parameters for my child to protect them from harm. God is not a killjoy. He wants us to have an abundant life. He wants us to have hope and joy.
Psalms 119 speaks directly to this.
Joyful are people of integrity, who follow the instructions of the Lord…
Joyful are those who obey His laws and search for Him with all their hearts…
Make me walk along the path of your commands, for that is where my happiness is found…
Help me abandon my shameful ways; for your regulations are good…
I will walk in freedom for I have devoted myself to your commandments…
You are good and do only good; teach me your decrees…
Surround me with your tender mercies so I may live, for your instructions are my delight…
Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.
I didn’t understand the safety mechanism the pool builder established to protect my pool. By shutting off the safeguard, I could have ruined all the fun my family would’ve enjoyed in the pool and the mistake could have been costly.
Often, we don’t understand the parameters the Lord sets before us but I know they are for our good and not to suck the fun out of our lives.
How about you, do you see God’s parameters as protection or punishment? Tell me in the comments. Let’s talk about it.