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What I Learned When My Morning Didn’t Go as Planned: a Tale About a Furnace, Grilling Utensils and the Israelites

My morning hadn’t gone according to plan. 

I woke up at 6:30 am, opened my bedroom door, and noticed that the hallway’s air was a bit chilly. I didn’t think too much about it as I sauntered down the stairs, debating in my mind whether or not I wanted Chai Tea or Earl Grey. As my feet hit the bottom stair, that’s when I could no longer ignore the arctic chill that had seemed to encompass my living room. My dire suspicions about the furnace were confirmed as the temperature on our thermostat read 51 degrees. 

It is always set to precisely 68 degrees. 

The best part of this unwanted surprise? My husband was out of town and wouldn’t be back until that evening, and we’re right smack dab in the middle of selling our home!  And did I mention that we had scheduled the home inspection for the next morning at 8 am sharp?!

Panic and rage. 

Those are the only two emotions I can adequately use to describe to you the feelings that were burning within because of what greeted me when I stood, dumbfounded, in front of that darn thermostat. 

Per my husband’s instructions via a hasty FaceTime chat, I journeyed down into our dark, dirt floor basement that looks to be a 100-year-old dungeon and used cooking utensils to remove the furnace filter. 

Yep, grilling tongs, to be exact.

Some cursing and yelling did happen, and so did an early morning trip to Menards as I rushed in and asked the first attendant I saw if she could direct me to the furnace filter I needed. I can only imagine what the situation looked like through her eyes. There I stood, a 25-year-old woman in pajama pants and an upside-down headband who shared too much information about her current dilemma, holding out her cellphone, which contained the picture of what needed to be replaced. 

A hot mess. I will never again judge a single person I see in the store with their pajama pants still on. 

Twenty minutes later, I was back traversing through the dungeon basement, replacing the filthy filter with the clean one, grilling tongs in hand, praying the entire time that this would fix my problem. 

Please, Lord, let this work. I need this to work.

Well, it didn’t. 

The furnace clicked on for about 5 minutes, blew cold air, and then sputtered out. It sounded as defeated as I felt. 

About 3 hours and ten phone calls later, an HVAC man was at my door, to the rescue. 

I could’ve hugged him, and I am not a hugger. 

In no time at all, my new best friend, the HVAC man, held in his hand the culprit that stole my morning and my sanity. It turns out that something called an ignitor was cracked, needed replacing, and it was going to be an easy, cheap fix. 

He worked his magic, and my house is now back to a comfortable 68 degrees. 

But the question I kept asking myself throughout this entire, chaotic process was, why, Lord? Why does this have to happen right now? 

In hindsight, do you know what this whole fiasco has taught me?

  1. I can do hard things (and yes, dealing with a broken furnace when my husband’s out of town and we’re a day away from a home inspection is HARD).
  2. When I become overwhelmed, I just need to focus on my next right step.
  3. My why question actually pointed me to a Who.

I think, a lot of the time, our initial reaction to interruptions or inconveniences tends to be the question of why?

Why is this happening?

Why are you allowing this, Lord?

Why can’t it just be fixed?

It reminds me of the Israelites in Exodus when God had just used Moses to free them from slavery in Egypt. After numerous devastating events that God had brought upon Egypt, Pharaoh finally allowed the Israelites to walk free. The Israelites had been enslaved in Egypt for 430 years (Exodus 12:40). Can you imagine how sweet their freedom must’ve tasted after generations of torment and slavery? 

Not long after they were freed, God chose to harden Pharaoh’s heart which led Pharoah to change his mind and pursue the Israelites once again (Exodus 14:4). 

Can’t you just hear the desperate cries of the Israelites as they saw their freedom flash before their eyes?

As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the Lord. They said to Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!” – Exodus 14:10-12

Why, Lord?

And the Lord responds with His own why in verses 15-18,

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on. Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground. I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they will go in after them. And I will gain glory through Pharaoh and all his army, through his chariots and his horsemen. The Egyptians will know that I am the Lord when I gain glory through Pharaoh, his chariots and his horsemen.”

God showed the Israelites that they could do hard things and that their next right step was to move where He instructed. After that, their question of why would soon point to a Who

God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, knowing that Pharaoh would pursue them. God allowed Pharoah to interrupt and inconvenience the Israelites, God’s chosen people, so that He could show everyone watching Who He is!

In case you don’t know the ending to this story, Moses did raise up his hand over the Red Sea, and it did split in two. One by one, every single Israelite walked straight through the Red Sea and got to witness the faithfulness and mighty power of the God who had set them free. 

The Israelites would’ve missed out on this massive miracle if they hadn’t allowed themselves to be interrupted. If they hadn’t listened to the voice of God with them and just took that next right step. 

God didn’t require the Israelites to part the Red Sea. He required them to follow Him. 

I often think, when things don’t go according to plan, after asking why, we tend to think it’s our job to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and do whatever we can to fix the situation on our own. But God doesn’t require that of us, friend.

He just requires us to humble ourselves and be honest about our limitations, so that He can meet those limitations with His presence. 

He beckons us to reach for Him when our mornings get turned upside down.

When that cancer diagnosis slaps you so hard in the face that you can hardly breathe. 

When your marriage is falling apart and your heart is breaking in two.

When you lose a loved one and you’re sure the sorrow has no end.

When your kids are driving you insane, and you feel like you’re drowning in the sea of chaos that is motherhood.

When life happens, and circumstances don’t go the way we expected, God is waiting to meet us there. He’s waiting to open our eyes to the lessons He has for us in that season and most of all…

He’s using these unexpected circumstances to show us that He is faithful and true, that His love never fails and that He truly provides exactly what we need moment by moment. 

It’s ok to have why questions, friend, as long as we remember to surrender those whys to a Who. Because when we turn to God with our anxieties, unmet expectations, and heavy hearts, we give ourselves room to watch God work. 

I don’t know what your day has been like, friend, or what you’re facing in this season of life. But if there’s one thing I’m absolutely sure about, it’s that God wants you to invite Him into wherever you find yourself today. 

He longs for you to draw near to Him as He so tenderly and mightily draws near to you. 


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