Laying on the floor of an elementary school boy’s bathroom staring at the underside of a toilet. Wrench in hand, feet ground into the tile, grunting like a caveman wondering how many years and layers urine I am actually laying on.
I twisted left, then right and stopped to breath. It would not budge. I wasn’t even sure which way I needed to twist anymore.
I tried again.
I put WD40.
I called friends for advice.
But the bolt would not come off.
It was not a modern toilet that I could pop the top of the anchor for the toilet seat and screw it one way while I twisted the bolt the other way. This was an original to the building. Installed in the American way in 1994. In the way that lasts.
Rust and age had made a solid and immovable bond between the bolt and the nail, and as I on the floor pushing with all of my might I started praying.
“Jesus, if you want these boys to have a new toilet seat, you’re going to have to send someone stronger than me.
Jesus, please move this bolt.
Jesus, why is this bolt so hard!
Please send someone stronger than me. You had me do this. You have to fix it.
I’m going to keep trying, but this is not going anywhere.”
It really smelled. I was close to the drain and I kept getting whiffs of sour milk into my mask. This was not my idea of fun. And this was definitely NOT in the job description.
In the middle of an especially deep grunt, I realized I needed to try the other side of the seat first. It was a half a foot or so from the wall. There was no way I could lay down to get under the base and try and undo the bolt. If I ended up, by some miracle getting the first side off, and the other side was just as stuck, then I had wasted a good hour of my time.
I braced myself, reached the wrench under the seat grasped the bolt firmly on the 11th try and twisted with all my might. And the bolt separated neatly from its huge plastic counterpart on the top of the toilet.
Which left me the problem of the spinning bolt on the original side.
And the prayers continued.
Now it had nothing to anchor it and spun freely, giving me a liberal dousing of WD40 as I tried to unscrew it.
This is when the doorbell to the school rang. I went and opened the door, and their stood a muscly church member that cuts the school’s grass on Sundays. He had come by to pick something up.
I casually mentioned the problem of the spinning bolt.
And he casually used bolt cutters to obliterate it.
It was later, as I was showering the years imagined urine off of my back and letting the hot water work out the cramps in my hands that I realized this was a spiritual lesson.
Jesus does not want us to ask one time and walk away from a problem.
1. He wants us to repeatedly ask Him.
He will always answer prayer with a Yes, No or wait.
In this case, my answer came quickly. Although it did not feel quickly. It felt like an eternity. There is the parable of the widow who asks the unjust judge over and over and over to grant her petition. The judge finally answers her because of her pestering. Jesus also tells of a neighbor that goes and asks for food late at night. The owner of the house finally got up and gave him what he needed because of his repeated pestering.
There is the promise that if our earthly parents (‘fathers’) give us what is good, how much more will our Heavenly Father.
He loves us and wants us to ask Him for our needs, but many times it is an ongoing conversation, not just a once and done.
2. Sometimes He will have us wrestle with the problem.
This was the biggest take away from my bathroom misery.
I wrestled with the problem for about an hour before help came. Jesus had already sent help before I knew I needed it. He had already provided it. But it was while I was wrestling with the bolt that I realized I had a need. It was while I was wrestling with the bolt that I was growing in faith because I knew Jesus was going to have to solve this problem because of my own strength I could not.
Many times we will face things in life that we will struggle through before Jesus gives us an answer. He has already prepared it, He already has the lawn guy on His way to obliterate your bolt, but we must be present in the problem so:
- We realize we are powerless
- He wants to give us good things
- He will help us if we ask
3. We have to move forward in faith
Imagine the lawn guy showing up and I ask him to change a nasty (NASTY) toilet seat. I’m sure his answer would have been that he had to get back to work. He was not dressed in work clothes. His dog was waiting for him at home. He had to wash his hair. Anything to not have to lay on the floor of the boy’s bathroom.
But I had already taken a step forward. I was working on the problem. I was trying to make things better. I did not wait for someone to come and solve it for me; I took initiative.
God expects us to move forward. To work. To try. To keep trying even when it isn’t easy.
We need to attempt to make our situation and circumstances better. We do not just wait on Him to send someone or something to fix all of our problems. He helps us help ourselves.
4. Sometimes we have to step outside our comfort zone to do what God has called us to.
I am not a handy(wo)man. I do not know how to fix things. But after a year of waiting and asking, no one had volunteered to replace the toilet seat. So I decided to do it.
It was not comfortable. It was not what I wanted to do, but it needed to be done.
It is like that with the things that we are called to do. If Jesus is putting a calling on your heart, go deep into prayer and obey. If it feels overwhelming, remember that God does not call the equipped, but equips the called.
To sum it all up:
We serve a mighty God. He is able. He is ready and He is willing.
All we have to do is ASK.
…and sometimes lay on the floor of the boy’s bathroom…