October 15, 2018

Pastoral Nuggets: Water Pipe Moments

Brother-Aaron-236x300As I was thinking about Christmas and the cycle of life, my mind wandered back to the days of long ago that I spent growing up at 38 Borders Road in LaGrange, Georgia.

God knows it was a simpler time way back then. We were the “poster family” for being poor.

However, everybody else in the neighborhood was poor too, so we didn’t know the difference. But that was then and this is now. Life has a way of happening.

Momma has gone to be with Jesus now and my ninety-five year old father joined her on December 5, 2011.

All of my siblings and I have raised wonderful families and enjoyed very successful careers. Life took us a long way from that simple home on a dirt road we all call home. But somehow, it is the memory of the joys that were discovered in the simple things way back then that has captivated my attention this Christmas.

My momma was a stickler for traditions. After the meal on Christmas Eve we would all retire to the living room. The ritual began when momma would take the piano stool and drape a white cloth over it. Then she would carefully place the Bible and a candle at the center.

Daddy would then take his Bible and read to us Luke’s version of the Christmas story. Then they would carefully explain to us that Christmas was not about Santa Claus, but about the birth of our Savior, the Christ Child. Then, as a family, we would kneel around that piano stool and each, in turn, would pray to this Christ Child and express our gratitude to Him.

And I will always remember my mother, reserving herself to be the last to pray, would always close her prayer, with tears running down her cheeks, asking God to, “Bless the little boys and girls who wouldn’t have any presents on Christmas morning.”

And it was at one of these tender, touching moments that made one of the most indelible memories I have of Christmas at 38 Borders Road.

I remember one bitterly cold Christmas Eve. The house was plumbed with galvanized pipe. Remember, we were poor.

So, this meant the pipes had no insulation and the underpinning of the house left somewhat to be desired. As a result of this the water in the pipes had frozen. Momma was all in a titter!  Horror of horrors!

The unadulterated joy of Christmas Eve at 38 Borders Road was being threatened by no water for cooking. Daddy took an old kerosene blow torch and for hours on end worked in the bitter cold trying to thaw the water. Finally, toward early evening, the pipes began to belch and make a gurgling sound. Then, joy of joys, the water began to flow! Daddy had saved Christmas!

As our family tradition played out that Christmas Eve, we knelt around the piano stool adorned with a Bible and began to pray. When it came my time to pray, I prayed as any five-year-old would pray – straight from my heart.

I thanked God for momma & daddy, my brothers & sister, Jesus for Christmas, and who knows what else. But as I closed my prayer, with all the heartfelt gratitude and sincerity that only a five-year-old could muster, I prayed, “And thank you God for letting the water come up the pipes!”

After I said amen, there was a long moment of awkward silence. Then somebody, I don’t know who, snickered – then another and another snickered.  Soon my two brothers, my sister, my daddy, and even my momma were laughing hysterically at me.

Well, I for one failed to see the humor in the situation. But what a moment it was in the life of our family. Now, many years removed from that scene, my mind is lasered-in on the fact of just how little it took to make a young boy happy – water coming up the pipes!

I am proud of all the accomplishments God has allowed me to realize in my life. He has taken me to heights of success that I never dreamed I would reach. But I have begun to notice that these days it doesn’t take as much as it once did to bring me joy. I have reached a place in my life where “water pipe moments” are once again cause for great joy, celebration, and thanksgiving.

As you think about the things that really bring you joy this Christmas season, most likely it is not the expensive toys you have received. Most likely it is your own “water pipe moments!” So, my Christmas wish for all of us is really quite simple: Let’s all make more “water pipe moments” this Christmas. And by the way, Merry Christmas!  (Not Happy Holidays!)

Brother Aaron

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