The Philippines have been devastated by a typhoon. The pleas from the people there are heartrending. They need food, water, medical supplies.
So why am I sick at heart, not about the Philippines, but about my father having no water?
Yesterday, we went to visit. He told us how he had been without water the day before. He called his go-to fix-it people. They didn’t get out there until the afternoon.
“It was terrible,” he said. “All morning I was without water. It’s a good thing your mother had the foresight to bottle up some water for emergencies.”
Yes, my mother had stocked our basement with jugs full of water. One of them was sitting in the bathroom yesterday, proof that my father had tapped into this reserve.
My mother was always prepared for any emergency. She had a purse that would have won prizes on Let’s Make a Deal. I looked at the jugs of water and wondered what imminent danger had led her to preparing them all. The date, though somewhat smudged, looks like 6-98.
The good news, as my father relayed his story, was that when they came to fix it, it took them less than a minute. The bad news, as unfolded in the events that followed, was that whatever they fixed, it was only temporary.
Within a few hours of our being there, the water pressure dropped to nothing. Bud investigated and found a blown fuse. When he replaced it, it immediately blew again. Time to call the fix-it guys.
When they came — this time quicker than the day before — they determined that it was probably something in the well itself, possibly the pump. The well had been dug in 1967. I guess pumps don’t last 50 years.
The man with the excavator couldn’t come until today. That meant that my father would be without water yesterday afternoon and evening, and probably most of today.
“I have all this water that your mother bottled,” he said when I expressed concern about his situation.
“You can’t drink water that’s 15 years old,” I told him.
“I did yesterday and it didn’t kill me,” he replied.
I called my brother before I left. He lives next door. I asked him to bring some water.
And then I worried all the way home. It’s just not right. Water is important. I don’t want my father to be without good clean water even for a day.
But who knows how long the people in the Philippines will have to make do with far less than 15 year old jugs of water? And, why am I so hard-hearted that I don’t lose sleep over the Philippines? I lose sleep over a man who will get his water repaired comparatively quickly, and who has grocery store access to a water supply that could last another 15 years.
The difference is relationship. I love my dad. I don’t want to see him suffer in any way. I don’t want to see the people in the Philippines suffer either, but somehow it’s different.
I think that’s why Jesus came to earth. To touch one leper at a time. To talk face to face with a Samaritan woman. To choose twelve men with whom he could spend intimate time.
I think it was to show us that when the Bible says, “For God so loved the world,” He wasn’t saying that His love for the world is the same as our concern for the Philippines, faceless and nameless. He was saying it like I say I’m concerned about my father. It’s a profound and personal love.
I’m still trying to wrap my mind around that.