Across the hall from my office, a urinal was running on and on and on when I visited the gents’ room this morning. That same fixture had been running on Friday as I left for the weekend. Whether it ran for some 66 hours between, I cannot say, but the idea crossed my mind. As someone who has to haul his water in a 425-gallon tank atop a pickup, driving over gravel roads and braving the road construction in Oak Grove to get there, I have a very strong, very visceral reaction to the waste of water. I’ve been known to ask the kids why they didn’t drink water at Wal-Mart where it would have been free rather than swilling down 8 ounces of the precious stuff at our house.
It occurs to me that this water wastage saga speaks of a larger truth. Think about it. Who gets the most upset about wasted water? Me, the guy who has to haul it. My wife and family are reasonably frugal when it comes to the wet stuff. Individuals who actually have magical pipes that come into their home carrying the universal solvent don’t rise to my level of obsession, but they do notice. For example, when I was among the blessed connected, I couldn’t just let a toilet run or a faucet drip indefinitely. I knew the bill would arrive eventually, so I fixed the issue.
I would suggest that the larger the organization and the farther away the thinking part of the organization is from the problem, the less consternation will be caused. At a school that hosts 15,000 students on any given day, one running toilet just isn’t the biggest of issues. Unfortunately, that same size issue can lead to other, more significant thought processes. When a school grows large, focus on the individual student becomes difficult. The same can happen in a church or a government entity.
I can’t stay close to everything in my life, but it seems that the closer I am to the production of my food, the provision of my water, or the procurement of my clothes, the more appreciative, the more conscientious, the more involved I will be.
This chatter takes my mind to Romans 5:8. Perhaps Paul might have written “while I was still a sinner, Christ died for me.” I know, Paul was a capable enough writer to have said it that way had he wanted to. I’m probably just projecting a post-Renaissance emphasis on individualism on the idea, but it seems that the further we get from that ideal–of Christ dying not for our sins but for my sins–the more apt we are to see the running sewer of that sin not as a pressing problem but an abstract theory. There’s a lot of sin in the world, but what about me? There’s a lot of sin in the church, but what about me?
Across the hall, the water has ceased to run after a plumber removed the auto-flush unit from the fixture. Praise God, however, that the water of Christ runs forever fresh and refreshing, keeping the sewer of my life ever clean (John 4:14).