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Just a Thankful, Old, Patched Pipe

Many years ago it was a common activity to take our youth group camping in the North Carolina mountains. In the early years there were no showers available, so I built us a "shower trailer". It consisted of a frame- work of 2' PVC pipe, covered with tarps and mounted on a long utility trailer.

There's an old saying in the world of carpentry (and plumbing!) that goes, "measure twice, cut once." I remember cutting one piece of the pipe perfectly, only to discover I had picked up the wrong pipe and had just cut one of the existing legs in half!

The story of the prodigal son in Luke 15 is about a really bad cut. The boy measured out his life and made the cut. He cut off his family, father and previous life. It was only later that he found out he had made a terrible mistake. What do you do now? Life is a lot harder to fix than pipe.

One time I was repairing a pipe under an old house. One long section of pipe showed about ten places where it had been repaired! A "coupler" is a small piece of pipe whose only purpose in life is to join two other pieces of pipe together. If a pipe is cut wrong, you can put in a coupler and add enough pipe to make it right. If a pipe is broken or leaking, the broken part can be replaced without losing the whole pipe.

We showered a LOT of kids and adults in perfect privacy, in a shower with one leg cut too short but saved with a coupler in the right place!

I don't know how many "couplers" Libbie and I have in our relationship. There have been plenty of times we "sprang a leak" or came up short. Every single one of those mistakes has to be patched up before you can go on! Sometimes we thought we had measured well and acted right, only to discover afterward that our measuring was off and we had a problem.

Some people get divorced because they don't know how, or are unwilling, to "patch things up." I have known people who were "good friends" for years but then separated because they were unable to patch up a leak, or a bad cut, or a "busted pipe" in their friendship. Can you honestly say that you have a really "good strong" friend until you've both been drenched by a "busted pipe" in your relationship and had to patch up a leak between you?

We haven't used that old shower tent for years but I could still show you the patched up leg I wrongly cut in half! Why didn't I just throw that piece away and start over? Well, I believe in fixing mistakes, don't you? Are any of us really more than on old piece of pipe with a lot of patches over the years? And aren't you thankful God doesn't just throw us away just because we make a bad cut or spring a leak? I know I am!

- Tim Orbison


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