Elk herd crossing Timber Butte

I confess – plumbing isn’t my favorite past time.  I’ve found most plumbing jobs require climbing upside down into confined spaces where tools and hands struggle to function.  Working under a sink, for example, has a way of reducing my worldview to the confines of a two by three foot cramped space forcing all of my focus to concentrate on a stubborn leak.  Sometimes a simple small problem like a silly leak can stifle long range vision causing us to miss the greater blessings of life.  This week I was reminded of this simple truth.

Every winter I try to plan a project that I can work on out of the weather. This winter I’m converting an empty room in the barn into a butcher shop.  I’ll be saying more about this venture at a later date but my point for now is to say that in order to accomplish my objective it’s been necessary to install a hot water heater, a deep sink and a drain system that has required a grinder pump capable of pushing waste about 200 yards to the existing septic system.  For a novice plumber like me it was a bit challenging.  When I tested the system for the first time I discovered one small but persistent leak which I’ll admit really aggravated me. It wasn’t a big deal but in my momentary state of frustration I was reminded of how easy it is to lose the perspective of blessing.

Like many people I am a person of focus.  Even when I eat I have a tendency to eat my steak before I can focus on my potato; I guess it’s just how God made me. In the same way I move from one visionary project to the next and in the process have the tendency to put great energy on solving the crisis at hand.  This characteristic can make people like me become highly productive in life, but to our detriment can also cause us to neglect to stop and smell the flowers along the way.

I was concentrating on my leaky fitting when Nancy called from the house.  She needed help with some Christmas decorations and asked if I could take a minute to give her a hand.  Reluctantly I left my leaky dilemma dripping in a tin can under the sink and walked from the barn to the house to see how I could help.  I was a man on a mission, going to help my damsel in distress, yet all the time thinking of a solution to the leaky pipe crises in the butcher shop. I was looking down at the snowy frozen ground as I charged along.

As I approached the house I became aware of the sound of a small plane flying over Timber Butte.  It caused me to look up just long enough to see a large herd of elk crossing the hillside above the barn.  There were nearly a hundred in the group spreading over a mile of the butte’s steep slope.  It was a magnificent sight that caused me to stop everything simply to look.  All at once, my dripping pipe problem seemed insignificant – literally a non-issue.  My perspective had moved from the cramped confines of a sink cabinet to the splendor of God’s great creation.

Nancy came out with the binoculars and together we leaned against the corral fence and watched them pass. We stood in silence as we listened to the cooing of cows and calves and the distant bugles of bulls grazing along the hillside.  The lesson became acutely clear – Never forget to look up from the momentary problems of life and take the time to see the blessings of God.

Perhaps it is our human sinful nature that so often entices us to focus our energy on the momentary problems that tug at our lives. Unfortunately it often robs us of the many reasons to have hearts that celebrate with thankfulness.

Ironically, when I later returned to my project in the barn the leak had stopped of its own accord.