Blake and I are raising two boys, so smells are not new to us! In fact, I often wonder why we never bought stock in Glade and Airwick since we use copious numbers of those little plug in's. So two nights ago we weren't all that surprised when a not-so-pleasant smell wafted through the house about 8:30pm. We were attempting to wind down for the evening after a day filled with work, rehearsals, lacrosse practice, kids at home from school for MLK, and laundry! As Blake helped Sarah finish her bath and dress for bed, he noticed it first. I'm just going to be honest; it was a sewer smell. It took the boys awhile to notice it, probably because they were in their own rooms which don't smell that great anyway. I had fallen asleep on the couch - one of those quick power naps when no one is looking and you get too still - until it jarred me AWAKE! YUCK!
As we did the sniff test in each room, blaming the boys the whole time, Justin had the forethought to do what every teenager does about a problem. He googled, "What do I do if I have a sewer smell in my house suddenly?". Then he yelled, "Hey Mom! Come read this!". The gist of it said that we should call the gas company and get out of the house because it might be a gas leak that could cause an explosion. It was the beginning of the chaos.
"Grab your backpacks, grab your shoes, grab your blankets and pillows, grab clothes for tomorrow, and somebody grab the scrapbooks! We're getting out of this house right now. And no one strike a match, we don't want to explode!" Yes, this was my immediate reaction...word for word! I'm pretty sure the only person who didn't roll their eyes at me was Sarah. She her "explode" and totally flipped! Hey, at least she heard me! (You'd think I'd know to act calm in front of the preschooler!)
Sweet Blake never yelled at me, he just grabbed his phone and called the gas company while we piled everyone into the car. We drove in circles around the neighborhood as Justin worked on a paper on his laptop and Caleb tried to read the last 20 pages of Lord of the Rings. Sarah was freaking out about explosions. At this point Sarah and Caleb remembered that we'd left the dog at home. They were demanding we go back and rescue her. I was asking Blake what the gas company was saying while he tried to sound remotely coherent above the chaos. It was one of those moments where you realize that Jesus Himself could be speaking and who could hear Him! It was CRAZY! Actually, it was not much different from a typical night when we are all home except that we were all in a small enclosed space. The house might have exploded without us even hearing it.
Just 20 minutes later the kind and patient man on call with the gas company showed up and discovered that we had dry traps in our basement drains. Who knew?? We have a basement bathroom and bar sink that rarely get used. It's too cold in the basement this time of year so we don't go down there much to use the potty. We also don't use a bar sink much, seeing as how Blake is a Baptist preacher. I honestly had no idea that you should at least run water into the drain fairly often to keep the traps wet. Evidently all drains to a sewer sytem have a "P" shaped trap that is usually filled with water. The trap provides a seal to keep out sewer gas. If your basement floor drains are rarely used, water evaporates from the traps over time Eventually the seal is eliminated, allowing sewer gas (and smell) into your house. So the answer was just to flush the toilet and run water in the sink.
Now honestly, that's my kind of problem...one that's easy to fix and requires no real professional. But it made me think! First of all, don't overreact around a preschooler. Secondly, keep the traps wet! Even if I don't think I need them, keep them working!
That's what my whole journey with God has been like over the years. Often I let my spiritual life become dry because I think I'm good. Or maybe I think it's too hard to spend time with Him. Perhaps I'm just too busy or bored with it or full of pride. Whatever the reason, I just don't spend time with Him and I become so dry. Then there is inevitably a stench! Whether or not I can smell it, those people around me certainly can. They may not exactly know what's caused it, but they know that I'm just fowl to be around, often grumpy and gripey and rank! If that's happening, it's because my traps are dry. All I need to do is spend time in His gracious presence, letting Him wash me with His love and tenderness. I need to meditate on His Word, spend time being thankful, come away from the noise of my everyday life, and pour out my heart to Him. This is a lesson I might not soon forget...but if I smell like an unholy sewer I hope someone will gently urge me to keep my traps wet!
The Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.