Lessons from the Job Site: Broken Hose

By Bro. Vince Kluth
Sometimes in our spiritual journeys, we feel as useless as a broken hose. But even broken hoses can be used for a bigger purpose.

One of the greatest concerns about my building project is that it has a crawlspace, not a full basement. A decision made near the end of the planning process ditched the idea of a basement, because the county would not allow elevator-only access; they also required a separate stair entrance which took out too much floor space on the main level. With critical infrastructure (such as plumbing) traversing under the flooring, invariably such will need service someday, and that means you must dig out adequate space underneath for future repairs. This subfloor area is called a crawlspace, and it can create the perfect mold factory. Thus, I was highly motivated to keep that 30-inch-deep pit as dry as possible until the entire structure went under roof.


Apparently, God had other plans. The first rain produced a mud spa against my house, prompting a call to the plumber to procure a sump pump. He couldn't install it in 2 feet of water, so it needed draining. I had partially exposed an existing 4-inch pipe used by my downspouts for carrying away rainwater, if only I could pump it over the foundation wall and into that pipe. The lake rested against my foundation and would eventually sink down to my basement and interior, whose protective barrier was compromised due to construction. Time was of the essence.


Purchasing a submersible pump was easy. I needed a short length of hose that fit the pump and went the distance to the drainpipe. I didn't want to cut any of my existing garden hoses, as they were all expensive 50-to-75-foot sections, and I only needed something for a brief time.  Frantically searching my garage, I came across an old piece of garden hose from years ago, kept in case I needed to tie supports to landscaping stakes for new trees. The hose was less than 8 feet long. One end was cut. The fitting was loose and wouldn't hold high pressure without dripping. I didn't care. It was perfect! The cut end fit into the exposed drain perfectly, and the old fitting matched the top of the pump. In less than 45 minutes, my broken hose coupled with a new pump completely drained the swamp.  My spa was gone. Sunshine returned. Birds began to sing. Chocolate covered M&M's began to fall from the sky. (OK, I made up that last part.)


This past August in Maryland was a particularly wet one, producing more rain than normal. I used that broken hose several more times, all of them at critical stages. The remnants of hurricane Ida made a beeline to the top of the Kluth house where it dumped 3 inches of rain in four hours. Every time, the plumber's sump pump failed (because a worker unplugged it, or the submerged bucket didn't catch water, etc.), while my little broken hose helped pump out another victory.


I was struck by the usefulness of this broken hose, left in a dark corner of my garage with no purpose for many years. In a crucial hour, in spite of its flaws, it found an extraordinarily useful purpose in the hands of its owner.  It frankly reminded me of my own spiritual journey. Have you ever felt inferior because of inadequacies in your life, and the Lord didn't seem interested in changing your lot?  Have you sensed God isn't using you, though you know you're in the house of the Lord? Perhaps all these things are a grand design to test faith and to glorify His name when, despite your weaknesses and shortcomings, God would use you in a mighty way at a critical time.


Consider Gladys Aylward, a legendary missionary to China. She was short of stature, single, and had large feet. The mission board did not want her to go to China, because she didn't meet their requirements. On her own, she ventured into a godless section of Yang Chen. The Chinese came to accept Gladys, as she was only slightly taller than them and visually posed no threat.  Turns out the Mandarin (i.e., president) was attempting to abolish the traditional practice of foot-binding. He wanted to encourage other Chinese women to accept their feet as they were, so the Chinese ruler appointed Gladys as the region's "Official Foot Inspector." Her large feet allowed her to travel long distances; being a woman allowed her to enter women's quarters to do her job.  For that and other reasons, she had access to a portion of the mission field others could not go. A broken hose used by God.


Paul wrote, There was given to me a thorn in the flesh ... For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. (2 Cor. 12:7b,8-9a,10)


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