Obstacles Can Confirm You’re on the Right Path

Especially when they’re filled with sewage

Sometimes a “sewage” storm of obstacles confirms God’s call in your life. (Please pardon my euphemism.)

In this case, the “sewage” was literal.

I had cleared my Friday afternoon work calendar and marked 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. “vacation – out of office.” I had big plans: a drive home to participate in a Zoom call. But rather than work-related, this call was a virtual retreat for “Creating a God-Breathed Vision for Your Writing Life.”

While I sensed God calling me to write a book this year while participating in the FlourishWriters Academy, I wasn’t clear on my vision for the year. Or how to find that. Attending this well-timed retreat seemed essential.

That morning, I had reminded my husband of plans. Previously, I had worked out details with my assistant, gotten my boss’s approval to take vacation hours, and aimed to get projects completed so nothing would prevent me from leaving at 11:30.

All was going according to plan. Then as I was rushing to complete content we would publish Monday, a colleague interrupted. She entered my office and sat down. I looked at my watch: 11:10.

“I have to leave at 11:30,” I told her. I meant that I had to leave at 11:30 — not that she would have to leave at 11:30. She exited 11:29.

Then I flew into action, shutting down programs and browsers on my computer and gathering my belongings. I bolted from the office, started driving and was thankful when I found the traffic somewhat light. I would get home in time.

Just as I relaxed in that certainty, my phone interrupted. It was my husband. The toilet had overflowed, he said. He had tried plunging and snaking and accessing the blockage from the roof and from cleanouts on both ends of the house. Nothing worked. He needed my help, he said. Just to find a plumber.

The ‘sewage’ storm

In the midst of the “sewage” crisis, I wasn’t sure he remembered why I was off midday. So when I got home, I rushed to log into the computer to join the Zoom call, my attempt to put my foot down and declare to my husband and God – silently – that I had an important appointment. To find a vision for my writing life. A specific direction for following God’s call, His leading.

Hopeful, I logged into Zoom and half-listened to the speaker as I tried to hire a plumber. My first choice wasn’t available until Wednesday. My second choice was a plumber friend – who said he was “maybe” available on Monday. (Such enthusiasm!) He suggested two plumbers; one didn’t answer; the other wasn’t available.

The blockage in the lines affected plumbing in the bathroom, the kitchen, and the laundry room. We had other bathrooms, but it would be impossible to use the kitchen or laundry room while this blockage remained.

Certain we were left to our own devices, my husband redoubled his efforts and I joined him. God had called me to write, yes. But He had called me to this marriage, too. For better or for sewage.

Steve attempted different tactics for forcing the blockage out of the way. Most of them brought him in close contact with, eww, human waste. I was spared that nastiness. But I helped, turning faucets on and off and flushing the toilet on demand. (Water might help flush the blockage free, we reasoned.)

He had the dirty job. I merely watched the water level in the toilet and sounded the alarm when the water started to rise and threatened to overflow the toilet bowl. But my vigilance in the bathroom did prevent me from getting anything out of the virtual retreat.

About 2:30 p.m., our efforts were rewarded when the toilet suddenly emptied. I ran to share the good news. Then at my husband’s command, I kept the sink taps running, capturing the water to hasten filling the toilet tank, and flushed the toilet over and over while Steve monitored what moved through the cleanout.

A half hour later, Steve declared the pipes sufficiently clear. The block was gone. I was free to return to my previously scheduled program, already in progress.

I joined the Zoom workshop in time for the final session: “Writer’s Block and Soul Care Remedies.”

God has such a sense of humor!

(Funny, the speaker never mentioned sewage as a possible source of writer’s block – though it certainly blocked me!)

The blessing of the storm

I had wanted to attend that virtual retreat. I felt doing so was to protect the call of God in my life. I think Satan thought so too – and so he did everything in his power to prevent me from attending.

But just as “absence makes the heart grow fonder,” obstacles to follow God’s call make the heart more determined than ever to pursue God’s plan. They also make me more certain that God is calling me to write.

However, God also called me to marry my husband and be his helpmate. Had I not recognized his need for my help, I would have created a block in our relationship too. (And that could have been a whole other “sewage” storm.)

As it happened, however, my thwarted effort to attend the retreat became a precious talking point with my husband. I don’t know about you, Dear Reader, but I have the tendency to think about communications but fail to speak. I can’t tell you how often in my conversations with God (recorded in my journal) I see “You need to talk with Steve about…”

I hadn’t spoken with my dear husband about the call I felt on my life to write or what that might look like this year. I hadn’t explained how this call might consume my time or how determined I was to make progress on a book and engagement on social media. Or why.

Steve didn’t know about my one word for 2021 — satisfied — and my desire to learn to be satisfied and seek His presence – so that I could draw others to Him by my writings because of how I lived. (I know, he should read my blog, right?)

So while the toilet troubles prevented me from attending the virtual retreat, ultimately, it worked for my good. Instead of stopping me from finding my vision (because I was able to do that anyway), I was able to invite my husband to share my vision.

And, again, I see my favorite Scripture (hence, the name of my blog) at work in my life:

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”

Romans 8:28, NASB

P.S. Maybe God orchestrated the “sewage” situation as an incentive to me to speak and share my heart going forward too. I mean, it’s not something I want to repeat! Eww.

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