I would have to go back to 1970 to find a day I can quickly recall when I worked as hard and long as I did on Saturday. Back in the summer of that year I worked on a hay crew in western Kentucky. We started in the field at 7:30 that morning. By the time we’d finished picking up over a thousand bales, hauling them and stacking them in the barn, it was 1:00 the next morning. A very long day but I found some comfort in knowing I’d made over two hundred dollars instead of the thirty bucks I’d have made working by the hour doing farm chores.
My Saturday began a bit earlier this past weekend. When I woke up at 3:00 and couldn’t get back to sleep, I decided to go ahead and start working on the bathroom remodeling project. Randa was gone for the weekend and I figured I might as well get something done. It was 3:30 by the time I finished my cereal.
I started on the things that didn’t make a lot of noise, installing new outlets and running the wiring for them. Cutting and hanging some drywall. Later, when it seemed less likely to prompt angry visits from the neighbors or their publicly-employed delegates, I started tearing out the old cast iron vents and drain lines. I worked in the attic, belly-crawling fifty feet through blown-in insulation in order to get over to the pipes and saw them off. I worked on the roof, pulling up the pipe, tearing out the old vents and replacing them. I worked in the bathroom, cutting into the walls and removing the cast iron stacks. Most of my time, though, was spent in the crawl space under the house.
I lay on my side, swinging a sledge hammer to break out the cast iron toilet drain. After four episodes of hammer—lie back and rest—hammer again, I managed to break the four-inch pipe. The main drain junction center had been installed and then framed around. I had to cut the framing to cut it back out. Then I had to saw through the horizontal section of cast iron pipe to make a junction for the new laundry room connection. Throughout the day I continued to pray for stamina and wisdom, “Lord,” I prayed, “Please give me strength and understanding. Help me to perceive things accurately. Bless the work of my hands.” Then I added, “Please don’t let me screw up anything today.”
By the time I crawled out from under the house at ten p.m., I’d replaced the entire drain and vent system. It took all that time plus four trips to Ace Hardware. I connected the new vanity drain line, corrected a Rube Goldberg distortion of the kitchen drain, and built a new connection for the tub. Over eighteen hours in one day.
By the end of all that crawling, turning and twisting, hammering and cutting, fitting and gluing, I was as sore as I’ve ever been after any mud run. Even the eleven mile Tough Mudder in 2014. To the best of my memory, it had been forty-six years since I’d worked that hard and that long in one day. One key difference was that forty-six years ago, I was able to work the next day, too.
Even when God grants our prayers and gives us more strength than we expected, even when He provides the stamina to endure our most trying days and wisdom to make good choices, we may still take our bumps and bruises and find a few spots that need a good long soak in a hot tub. That long soak is a good time for reflection and for giving thanks.
The same God who gives us strength for our days also gives us nights of rest and recovery. And the comfort of His own Holy Spirit.