Deferred maintenance

This is our eighth winter living in the parsonage. Early on I learned about the home-made looking lever on the side of a piece of ductwork, and that I should switch it every year from “summer” to “winter,” and back again. I knew this had something to do with the humidifier. One year, the valve leading off toward the humidifier sprang a leak, so we had it fixed. Through all of this, the humidifier didn’t work. I didn’t really think about it until we got a new piano, and a new piano tuner, who informed me that the best way to take care of the piano’s need for moisture was to use a whole-house humidifier. Apparently years of dry skin and scratchy throats weren’t as critical as an out-of-tune piano! So when the heating guy cam in the fall to check out the system, I made quite sure that he looked at the humidifier. Turns out we needed a solenoid (the switch that makes it go on when it should), and we had a tube clogged up with calcium from our well. So, for the first time, we had a humidifier that worked, and we could feel it in our skin, in the fact that the mirror fogged up during a shower, and more. It was great! Then one day a couple of weeks later, there was water on the basement floor again. I shut off the water supply to the humidifier, so it wouldn’t keep running onto the floor, but of course we lost all that delightful humidity. After a little while I worked up the courage to look inside the humidifier cover again. There was a sort of filter, and it was pretty obvious that it was all clogged up, as well as funny smelling. So while I waited for the furnace people to call me back, I found a new filter at Home Depot, and replaced it with the greatest of ease (actually it’s called a water pad, not a filter). I tried turning on the water a little more slowly than before, and it worked! On the outside of the box for the water pad were these words in bright yellow on a red background: “Replace two times each heating season.”

How are you doing at maintaining your soul? There are lots of reasons why we don’t step up and perform periodic maintenance on our lives, as if that were less urgent than fixing things around the house! The reasons are pretty much the same as the reasons why I didn’t change the pad in the humidifier: it doesn’t bother me enough, I don’t know what to do, and I assume it’s both expensive and difficult. Also the ultimate fear-based reason: I’ll probably end up making it worse!

I have plenty of stories about mechanical deferred maintenance (including one about a van in Latvia–ask me sometime), but soul maintenance is a much bigger deal. Even if we have succeeded at putting off our soul maintenance for years and years, still we know that something isn’t working right. The good news is that God is interested in helping out. The good news is that it’s cheaper to call your friend or your pastor than your plumber. And ultimately soul care is in your hands, day by day. Regular maintenance includes honest prayer, time in worship and Bible study, and the cultivation of holy friendships. Don’t put it off any longer!

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