The prayer tub wasn’t working. It was a couple weeks ago and it just quit. The lovely Mrs. Hugen went out one morning to relax in it only to discover ice cold water and no electrical power to the spa. The Encouraging Discipling Communities conference was fast approaching and I wasn’t able to any longer sit in the spa in the middle of the night and pray because it simply wasn’t working. I checked a few things out by which I mean I pushed a few buttons, hemmed and hawed a few times, plugged and unplugged the cord, and thought lots of bad thoughts.
For me it was obvious what was happening. The one thing the evil one doesn’t want to have happen when someone is helping lead a conference on making disciples is to have that someone sit in what Village folks refer to as the ‘Prayer Tub’ praying. So he sent little electronic mischief makers to kill the tub. Instead of praying in the Prayer Tub, I had to pray in other places. No more restful middle of the night talks with Jesus while sitting in warm, bubbly water underneath a starry sky. No more chattering on about the stuff of life with the God of the universe when I wasn’t able to sleep at 3:00am. No more whispering to the Spirit out of an addled ADD brain while drifting in gentle soothing quiet waters. It was very sad.
Sacred spaces become sacred because we declare them so in our routines. When we were little boys my brother and I would kneel beside the bed we shared in our old Iowa farmhouse and pray our nighttime prayers under Mom’s watchful eye. To delay having to go to sleep we would pray God’s blessings on lots of things. “God bless Mom, God bless Dad, God bless Miriam, Mark, Ruth, grandmas, grandpas, cousins, uncles, aunts… Sport and Blackie, and the cats and the milk cows, especially Brindle who liked to kick when Dad milked her… God bless the rabbits and the chickens and the nasty rooster that pecked at your legs when you gathered eggs…” Eventually Mom would cut us off and we’d find our way to, “Amen.” That creaky wooden upstairs floor next to the bed was sacred space. If I knelt beside the bed to pray these days, I’d be there until Jesus returned, so instead God gave me a warm, bubbly Prayer Tub. Now it was unavailable, just when I thought I needed it most.
I had a long list of things that needed God’s attention. In my head, not only was Mom telling me to wrap it up, but now I couldn’t even kneel beside the bed. The sacred space was off limits. Satan is often like that. He doesn’t like sacred spaces so he attacks them. None of this keeps me from praying, of course. His little annoyances don’t mean I can’t bring my long list of things to Jesus. Jesus isn’t confined to bedsides and hot tubs. You can chat with him anywhere. You can chat while you’re driving around town, although you should probably avoid folding your hands and closing your eyes. You can talk flopped out on the couch in the living room or sitting at your desk or walking around the block. Space isn’t so important when you talk to a God who is everywhere. Still, it is good to have sacred spaces. And the sacred Prayer Tub was not functional.
The conference went on anyway. Life unfolds. The conference was way too much fun. Friends showed up. Lots of them. John Van Donk came. Bev Sterk. Lots of friends and those who soon became friends. Eric told the conferees that I was a prayer person who sat in his hot tub and prayed in the middle of the night and I had to tell the folks that the Prayer Tub was dead. It wasn’t working. You could hear Village folks gasp. There was a spattering of, “Oh, no”s. We know the value of a good Prayer Tub.
John Van Donk is a helpful and kind man. He said, “Rod, you do know I’m a certified spa repair specialist, right?”
I didn’t know that.
He offered to come take a look at it Saturday afternoon after the conference, but he said he didn’t have any of his certified spa technician tools. “At least I’ll be able to tell you what might be wrong,” he offered. He talked to Russ about the tool issue and Russ had the tools John thought he might need. In his car. It’s kind of miraculous. John grabbed the tool box and came to the house prepared to fix things. The first thing he did was plug the hot tub in.
It started running.
I rejoiced. It was a miracle. At least I think it’s a miracle. John is not so sure. He is a certified spa technician so he looked for a physics and scientific type solution to the mystery of a suddenly running spa. He took pictures and looked up information on his smart phone. He quizzed Kathy and me about what exactly happened on the day it failed. We’re old now and have foggy memories. We had checked some things back then and had pushed random buttons and switched random switches and there might have been other electrical issues that surfaced that day, but we are completely unreliable testifiers. John asked really good questions the way a good certified spa technician might, but our answers were woefully inept. He didn’t get upset. He was very gracious. He did mention that in his preretirement certified spa technician days he made a lot of money off of folks like us.
John went into copious amounts of technical detail about the Prayer Tub. He took some of the mystery out of it for us. In his inspections and observations and his online research he discovered that the Prayer Tub has no heater, but instead uses ‘heat recovery thermal friction’ from water passing through the pump to heat the water at 1.4° per hour under normal conditions and that it has sensors that turn off the pump when the water reaches the temperature the thermostat sets and also turns off the power at a certain maximum temperature so as to not melt the motor. He used other other certified spa technician words like 110 volts and GIF outlets and blah, blah, blah and explained that we would have to wait for several hours to see if the blah, blah, blah sensor was working.
So we waited. It was very pleasant. We chatted about different things and he told my wife the story of his pre-certified spa technician days when he managed a dairy and his milker didn’t show up on Christmas eve and he ended up facing having to milk all 780 cows all alone by himself and that a dairy person friend chose to come over to help him and together they had a joy filled Christmas Eve milking cows together. It was a powerful story of love kind of like when a friend you only know online leaves California to go to a ‘Encouraging Discipling Communities’ conference and then comes by the house and fixes your Prayer Tub for you.
And fix it he did. John says that he traced the problem to a GIF outlet above the freezer in the garage that must have blown during some random power shortage kind of thing and got accidentally reset in our random button pushing binge. He has a wonderful certified spa technician explanation for the miracle of plugging in the spa and how it suddenly start working. I know it sounds a bit preposterous that a spa would have a GIF outlet by the freezer in the garage, but it makes a lot of sense when he explains it.
I don’t believe a word of it. I know a miracle when I see one. I know love when I experience it. I know prayers for the Prayer Tub by praying Villagers matter. I know electrical demons run in terror before a godly certified spa technician. It’s a miracle.
Just so you know, I’m sending this from the Prayer Tub.