As with much of the country the last few weeks, the winter weather has created a little bit of mayhem in our lives. The drive to work that normally takes 10 minutes may take 15-20. The day’s activities may include some shoveling before or after work. Mundane tasks—like grocery shopping or getting gas—become more of a hassle. Frankly, that’s life in the winter. We get that, expect it, and it doesn’t really mess up our schedule all that much. We build into our weekly calendar a “winter buffer,” if you will.

We had a winter storm come through our area last week, though, that threw my plans right out the window. Technically, it wasn’t the storm itself that did the trick; it was the storm’s byproduct. Tuesday evening brought with it an incredible freezing rain/sleet thunderstorm. Yes, thunderstorm, lightning and all. And the rain was quite heavy at times, further eroding the piles of snow that accumulated over the last few weeks. I retired that evening grateful that our electricity didn’t go out during the worst of the storm, and confident it wouldn’t since things had died down considerably.

When the alarm went off the next morning, I was a bit relieved that indeed the power stayed on through the night, if for no other reason than we have a couple of sump pumps that depend on ComEd’s supply of juice to our house. My relief proved to be short-lived, however. As soon as I opened the door from the carpeted bedroom (on the lower level of the house), I could see a dim light reflecting off the laminate floor in the family room. That’s not supposed to do that. A split second after my mind processed the reflection, I could hear a strange surging of water. That’s not supposed to be happening, either. I immediately knew what was wrong: the sump pump.

I turned on the light and groaned loudly as I made my way through the puddles. Chris heard the commotion and quickly joined me, letting out groans of her own. A few seconds later, I removed the sump pump cover and the pump was spewing water straight up—not out the hose like it’s supposed to! I hurriedly unplugged the pump, pulled it out of the pool of water, and discovered that the hose clamp had loosened up, allowing the hose to slip off. Hence, the mess in our family room. It took only about 90 seconds to get the hose reattached, clamped down as tightly as possible, and to re-submerge the sump pump into the water-filled pit. It hummed back into action and did its job superbly…now.

Normally, my routine when I get up is to head to the coffee maker, get a cup a Joe, and spend the next hour or so reading, praying, reviewing the previous day, and finalizing plans for the day. Well, I threw out those plans, replaced with a whole new set: mop up water…clean up the family room. If only it were that simple. Chris and I got all the water up, or so it seemed until she stepped near the wall at the opposite side of the room as the sump pump. Water bubbled up from under the laminate flooring. We naively had hoped that the water we mopped up on the surface was all there was. I had this sinking feeling, knowing that if water was under the flooring there, it was bad. Then Chris went back into the bedroom and discovered soaked carpeting. The feeling sunk a little more.

My mind raced to my planner and the list of items I needed to do that day—and the next, and the next. I knew the flooring had to go. There was no way the area was going to dry out under the laminate floor, and the carpet had a pad—a soaked pad, no less—under it. We definitely don’t need to risk a mold problem. I scanned the project lying before me, reflected on my to-do list, and did what anyone else would do. Got my coffee, my Bible, notebook, and retreated to a quiet place (upstairs!) for a while. Then ate breakfast. Then got to work. I tossed my plans for the day and started the process of ripping up the flooring, emptying bookshelves, moving furniture, getting fans in place…. Sigh.

At some point in the day, I had the presence of mind to realize what had happened. Not with the sump pump. With life. I had gone to bed the night before with my plans set, counting on my morning routine, expecting to get to my study at the church by 8:30, anticipating a full day of study and preparation for the Wednesday evening and upcoming weekend services. I got up in the morning to a whole new set of plans with my original plans completely thrown out. I thought, “There’s a verse in the Bible about this….” Indeed there is. Proverbs 16:9 — “The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.” In my heart, I planned my way to accomplishing what I needed to do to prepare for my responsibilities on Wednesday evening and the coming weekend. But the steps to getting there? Well, the Lord had steps planned that were, shall we say, unexpected and unconventional! As it turns out, the icy weather forced us to cancel the Wednesday church program. Somehow everything got done that needed to get done—both at home and at church. I think we had good Sunday services—at least I’m hoping no one realized I didn’t get to put in quite as many hours preparing as I had planned. Regardless, we all went home at the end of the Sunday having learned a bit more about our God, and about life walking with Him!