Our new house is relatively old and hasn’t been tended to in recent years. So, even though Wilson had done a lot of work to get it ready for us, we knew there were a few little flaws we’d have to deal with once we moved in to the house. The roof is made of corrugated tin (I’m guessing here, but it is metal) and we’d been warned that when it rained, it would be very loud. True! But I don’t mind a little noise now and then. There were, however, two small leaks that we noticed during the first big rainfall. One was in the bathroom, which is mostly made for being wet anyway, so that was no big deal. The other was at the head of the bed, but it was positioned directly above a window, and it just happens to be the window with the broken screen, so the water ran down the wall, dripping from the screen into the windowsill, and back outside. As far as leaks go, we were fortunate!
We’d been meaning to for a while, but a few days ago Wilson’s brother, Peter, set out to clean off our roof. It was covered in an accumulation of fallen leaves which apparently can lead to the eventual deterioration of the metal. To prevent any more leaks, cleaning off the abundance of leaves was a necessity. This little project erased the ambience of ‘little cottage in the woods during fall’ but I understood why it needed to happen.
That very night, shortly after we got into bed, the thunder started clapping and the rain was nearly torrential. Moments after it began to fall, a big puddle began to form about torso-level on my side of the bed. We quickly moved the bed to the other side of the room, only to realize that now the foot of the bed was taking on water from another new leak. We found a sweet spot for the bed and checked out the rest of the house. The bathroom had sprung a few new leaks as well, which were redirected into the shower by wedging a cookie sheet into the rafters at just the right angle. These tasks were accomplished with a fair amount of shouting, not because we were angry but because that kind of rain on a tin roof? Well, you get the idea.
So why do I bother to tell you this story? So we got a little water in the house, big deal. But even as it was happening, God put this word picture into my head. All these new leaks weren’t new at all. They were merely being temporarily patched by the matted leaves above them. Ironically, those same leaves were the cause of the leaks in the first place. Be cautious, God warned me, because satan works this way in your lives. As he is slowly and insidiously breaking down your spirit, he is also covering up the symptoms, keeping his work secret until he believes it is beyond repair. The first thing that came to mind is good works. He keeps us busy with tasks and ministries that look like the fruit of a true Christian heart. The things we do grab our attention, stealing from our time spent with God, stealing from our understanding of grace through faith and not by works. We soon cannot see the distinction between being a humanitarian and following hard after Christ. If satan can keep us from seeing the leaves as a problem, we will never pause to sweep them away and notice the leaks underneath.
Now that my role here in Haiti is less defined, I do not have the day to day tasks to keep me busy that I had before. And I have been finding that days without structured tasks, without a long to-do list and a real sense of accomplishment, leave me feeling aimless and lost. I brainstorm ways to be effective here, ways to help the Haitian people, ways to be useful, and it’s not that those things are inherently bad, but God just keeps whispering,
“Come to me,
I’m all you need.
Come to me,
I’m your everything” (Jenn Johnson, Bethel Loft Sessions)
What are the leaves on your tin roof?