As Christians, we should desire to know and perform God’s will for our life each day. We are to ask Him to direct our steps and trust that everything which He allows into our life is according to His divine purpose. Often, when we lay our heads on our pillows at night, it is easy to wonder if we have really accomplished anything for God that day or even wonder if God was at work. Each of us, on occasion, is guilty of wasting the time which God has given to us by chasing after our own desires instead of God’s. There are times though, that we are really seeking to do His will and it seems like we get bogged down with the monotony of life. We want to be used by God, but instead we have to wash the dishes, shovel snow, or figure out what to do with the dryer that just stopped working. I recently had one such experience.
Saturday evening my dryer stopped working. Sunday evening I called my brother, who happens to be an appliance repairman, and asked him to help me repair it over the phone. After all, it is a dryer, it can’t be that hard to fix. Right? He told me that we could work on it the next day if I would give him a call. Monday morning I ran to the store to pick up an electrical multi-meter to help diagnose the problem. (Subtract an hour from my day for that errand.) When I got back from the store, I called my brother and he helped me to take the thing apart and test every possible replaceable part. We had a great time on the phone together, but in the end his verdict was that the dryer was broken. (Subtract another hour from my day for diagnoses.) We now knew why it was broken, but the replacement part was worth more than the dryer. Now I was in the market for a brand new used dryer. That did not make me very happy, because it wasn’t really even my dryer which was broken. It was the dryer of the church which I have been staying at for the past 16 months. The right thing to do was buy a new dryer, but I really wasn’t excited about spending the money on something I wouldn’t get to keep and would rarely be used after I left. With a grumble in my heart I started scouring Craigslist for a dryer that would work. As God would have it, the cheapest one which I could find for sale was only a ten minute drive down the road. The ad described it as a “vintage” dryer. I had heard of vintage cars before, but never vintage dryers. All I really cared about was whether it still dried clothes. According to the ad, it did. I was going to be out $50.00, but when compared to the prices of the other ones listed, and the close proximity of the seller, I took it as God’s provision.
Having purchased from Craigslist before, I knew I might need some extra muscle to help me get it out of the house, so I did what any good man would do. I asked my wife to interrupt her day of homeschooling (after all she wanted to have dry clothes), and load the five kids into the van so that she could give me a hand. When I arrived at the seller’s house, I was relieved to know that I wouldn’t need her help after all, but a little frustrated that I had needlessly interrupted her schedule. The dryer was not far from the front door and all ready to go. The man and wife who were selling the machine were very friendly and the husband even gave me a hand getting it into the car. I am convinced that there is nothing like five kids in car seats to get a conversation going. In a short amount of time, I had explained to this lovely couple that I was a pastor, and that I was staying in the empty church building down the road. Having paid the couple, I hopped back into the car and drove away, happy with my new acquisition and satisfied that I had purchased a working machine from an honest couple.
After getting it home, up the stairs, and into place I had to run to the store for a short piece of dryer duct to connect to the old vent line. That cost me about five bucks and another half an hour. By the time everything was finished, I had spent about five hours and fifty- five dollars on a dryer I never wanted to replace. Other than a little bit of excess lint in the machine, which I vacuumed out, the machine is in great vintage condition and does a great job drying clothes. I thought that at least there was a happy ending to an otherwise unhappy and frustrating waste of time. Then came the donuts.
That night, the wife of the couple which sold me the dryer couldn’t sleep. She kept on thinking about all of those kids which I had and the excess lint that she had left in the dryer. What if my house burned down and it was her fault? She couldn’t stand the thought of that. Then there was also the fact that it was a very “vintage” dryer. What if it hadn’t survived the move and had never worked out for me? What if it was just about to give up the ghost because of old age? She had never thought that a family would buy it and try to use it. She believed that a repairman would buy it for its parts and that it would be repurposed to repair other “vintage” dryers. This was her very first Craigslist’s sale and she was uncomfortable with it. She determined that she would hunt down that family and give them their money back. As a show of good will she would even buy them a bag of delicious bakery donuts.
This morning she showed up on our doorstep. We had a very pleasant conversation in which she fully explained to me why she must return the money and give our family the donuts. We both agreed that God had put us into contact for a divine purpose and that it was exciting to see Him at work. After talking about the Bronx and our church planting mission for a brief time, I gave her a gospel tract with our church info on it and thanked her for her honesty and kindness.
What appeared at first sight to be a waste of time and useless to the kingdom of God was actually His way of arranging a divine appointment. He alone knows what kind of eternal ramifications there will be from that silly broken dryer. Although I would have gladly paid fifty dollars to meet such a nice couple, I am thankful that God paid the bill for this meeting and even threw in a bag of donuts!
Epilogue: I scrapped the broken dryer for six dollars, which covered the cost of the extra piece of duct and left me with a couple of cents of profit. Though I could return the multi- meter I am keeping it because it is a really cool tool and I got it on sale!