Encountering God Behind a Toilet

Encountering God Behind a Toilet


That is a shocking title; perhaps even offensive to some.


Several years ago our toilet tank broke and needed to be replaced. I am not a plumber, but I am intelligent, resourceful and not afraid of a little work. (Can you hear the pride there? That's going to be relevant later.)


Our home had a disconnected toilet the same size sitting in the basement.

Why did we have a spare toilet?


No clue. It came with the house.


I explored the spare and discovered I could remove the tank and use it to replace the broken one upstairs.


The removal was a piece of cake. Within just a few minutes I had removed the nuts from the mounting bolts and triumphantly carried my trophy upstairs. Carefully, I set the tank down outside the bathroom. Feeling strong and rugged and manly; I - the master of my domain - marched through the open door, prepared to wage war against the offending loo. I sported nothing more than channel locks, testosterone and a "can do" attitude.


For those of you who have never attempted such a project, an essential step in the process is sitting off the valve and disconnecting the water supply.


No problem, that's why we have channel locks!


Unless of course the person who built the house had a sadistic streak and tucked the toilet snugly into a corner which gave you little to no clearance to be able to reach, let alone unscrew, the water supply.


Annoyed, but undaunted, I attacked - and the battle was joined. Cue epic music.

I towered over my foe, and though loath to surrender the high ground, I realized I had neither the length of arm nor the leverage to effectively reach the heart of the beast. Grudgingly I took to my knees and faced my opponent on its level.


Little did I realize how portentous this would be.


I was unable to see the water supply line without getting closer. I forced my overly large frame into the overly small space between toilet bowl and wall. My left cheek was smooshed up against cold porcelain and my right arm was bent in an unnatural manner that offered no way to make use of my herculean strength.

Even so, I was determined. I managed to get my channel locks around the nut that held the hose to the spigot. I don't know how to measure such things, but I'm fairly certain that after accounting for the width of the tool plus the mass of my meaty, manly paw, I had about a quarter inch clearance to unscrew the hose.

Remember the sadist who installed this monster? Yeah, I do too.


I could never prove it, but I was quickly convinced that he (or she, I'm not sexist) used locktite, a pet gorilla, or maybe some kind of plumber kung fu, to tighten the hose. So much so that it seemed likely to remain attached through everything up to and perhaps including nuclear holocaust.


Just sayin'.


It felt like forty days and forty nights. In truth it was just an hour.


A long hour.


For sixty minutes, my body was contorted painfully, various limbs falling asleep, crammed in a space not meant for a body. I was covered in sweat and grime, both my own and the toilet's. I tried and tried and tried to loosen the stubborn hose. I changed angles, directions, my grip on the tool, everything I could think of to bring my formidable intellect and strength to bear on this tiny foe.


I.. would.. not.. be.. beaten.. by.. a.. toilet..


As the time passed and I became increasingly sore and frustrated I began to spiral. All manner of ugly thoughts and frustrating memories filled my mind. Things I hadn't thought of for years came to mind. Offenses people had committed against me. Offenses I had committed against others. Shame. Regret. Sorrow. Rage. They all swirled around me in that hot, fetid corner of my frustration.


Notice some things here:


  1. God has not been mentioned even once

  2. Because God has not been on my mind even once

  3. The only things I've been concerned with - obsessed with - are my own strength, intelligence and pride.


This story is not one I'm proud of, it's one I'm ashamed of and it's a crude illustration of God's grace in a life that does not deserve it.


At some point, when I came to the end of everything I could do, I realized that I had not spoken to God about this situation.


Silently I spoke to God. I can't tell you exactly what I said. It probably wouldn't make sense anyway. I tend to word vomit when I talk to my Creator. I know I apologized. I know I asked for help. I know I addressed some of the ugliness stewing inside me.


I gave the channel locks a twist and the hose loosened effortlessly.


I realize that some will believe this is coincidence. Some will believe it's untrue. I cannot control that. I believe that God met with me behind a toilet and used that experience to draw me closer to Him.


Here's what I know to be true, whether you believe me or not:


I was in a nasty place, on the ground, my face smashed up against a receptacle for human waste; in pain, angry and ugly. The God of the universe was present in that place. When I finally got over myself and called out to Him, He did not ignore me. He did not force me to come to Him. He met me where I was with love, and grace and kindness. I will never believe that I did not encounter God behind a toilet.