Does God have a sense of humour?
You may think there are more important matters to consider in a world of turmoil and uncertainty. I’m not so sure.
Yesterday I visited an apartment I’m about to rent out to tenants. I wanted to make sure I was giving them the correct set of keys (Wot me? Give someone the wrong keys?? Er, it has been known…)
So I’m checking the flat over and all is well and yes the keys do actually fit the locks. I head back to the ground floor whistling a happy tune and think ‘Oh yes, better try the key to the bin room door and the garage.’ I insert the key into the bin room door. It turns. It opens. I smile. So you know what’s coming now, don’t you?… Off to the garage I go and insert the key into the lock. All is well. I turn the key. It turns. It opens. I smile. I remember thinking at that point ‘I’ll leave the bunch of keys in the lock – I’m only going to be here a second. I turn the handle slowly (the new tenant’s been storing possessions in the garage prior to moving in and I don’t know what’s in there). Then woosh! The garage door heads skyward at a velocity that would not have disgraced a self respecting Soyuz space rocket.
A quick visual check tells me the tenant is using the garage as agreed, so now to close the door and retrieve my keys. Only, errr, no. As I pull down on the door, one side starts to come down. The other doesn’t budge. I pull a little harder. Only a little harder you understand. I’m not stooped ya know. I can see that if I pull too hard I’ll end up warping the door. So it still doesn’t move. I stand back and look at it. It still doesn’t move (funny that). I go inside the garage and look at the door from behind. And now I can see the business end of an up and over garage door; all wires and pulleys and handles and ratchets and snugworsticating splanges (if you don’t know what one of those is, shame on you. Every self respecting handyman should have a snugworsticating splange do-er upper in his tool box). Ok, I admit it. I’m no engineer. But this is a garage door, right? Not Virgin Galactica, right? So yours truly should be able to make sense of it, right?
30 minutes later, I’m still standing by the door, looking at it from the inside and the outside and it’s still not closing (funny that). And then I see why. On the right hand side of the door, looking out, is a wire (that’s me looking out not the wire, you understand). The wire has a thingy attached to the end of it. The thingy isn’t doing anything. Now, although I must confess I’m not an engineer, I know enough about business economics to conclude that the average designer of garage doors isn’t going to design a wire to hang loosely by the side of the door doing nothing just so engineeringly-challenged individuals like me can admire it when confronted by a door’s refusal to close. The problem is the loose wire. Definitely. It’s errr… loose. So I look for where it might attach. And then a revelation of Archimedial proportions hits me. If I look on the other side of the door, there might be another wire. And if that one’s still attached, I’ll see what I’m supposed to do with the loose wire to make the door work! And oh, thank the angels. There is indeed a wire on the other side. And it is indeed still attached. I can’t rightly say why both wires need to be attached in the same way, but my post-renaissance sense of symmetry tells me that they should. Definitely. Probably. Maybe. Heyyy! There’s nothing to the garage door engineering, is there. Moi is a world class broken garage door fixer. All I now have to do is reattach the loose wire on the right hand side of the door to it’s snugworsticating splange just like wot the one on the left had side is, then all will be well. And then I can go home and have a nice cuppa tea. Which is just as well, cos it’s coming to rain. So I reattach the wire. And I’m ready to go home for the cuppa, right? Yeah. Except, the wire comes off again. I re-attach it. It comes off a second time. I fold my arms, put my head on one side and think about it. Nothing happens (funny, that).
So there’s nothing for it but to text the company that installed the door (don’t you just hate admitting defeat?). Only I don’t have my phone. It’s at home with Matt having a nice cuppa tea (how very sensible of both of them). And I’m here without it. And it’s raining. And if I go home to get it there might be armies of brigands round the corner just salivating at the prospect of plundering an unattended garage whose up and over door won’t close and which is full of second hand furniture the sale of which will make them rich beyond their wildest dreams of avarice.
No, I didn’t buy that one either.
So I run round the corner in the rain to collect my phone and get drenched in the process. As I enter the door, Matt eyes me disdainfully. So does the phone. I pick up the phone. And the brolly. Cos I’m not gonna get wet twice. I’m not stooped, ya know. Only when I get outside the rain has stopped. So I rush back, certain the brigand army will be hard at work removing my tenant’s possessions. Only when I get back there’s no one there (funny that).
So I text the installation company and wait. And I wait. And no one texts back, so I text again. And I wait. And I wait. And I really don’t know what to do now. So what would you do?
I know what you’d do. You’d pray, wouldn’t you?
So I pray. Which is probably what I should have done in the first place. At least, I ask my angels for a practical solution to this problem. And I wait. And I fold my arms looking at the door again. And nothing happens (funny that). Until 10 minutes or so later, slowly past the garage comes one of those enormous pick up truck type vehicles that look like liquid aggression on four wheels. Big, shiny, black, imposing, with a large covered flatbed on the back for the storage of whatever. And in the cab is a man who looks like he’s big and looks like he’s probably got long hair an’ lots of tattoos an’ earrings an’ stuff and eats non-engineering whimps like me for elevenses. He looks at me enquiringly as he goes past. And I put on my most helpless most appealing please-help-me look. And as he makes a three point turn I pluck up enough courage to walk over.
And the big guy with the long hair an’ the tattoos an’ earrings an’ stuff winds down the window and says “Godda problem?”
And then he smiles; a really kind smile. Big guys with long hair an’ tattoos an’ earrings an’ stuff aren’t supposed to smile much. And when they do it’s supposed to be a leery grimacy nasty kind of smile; cos they’re supposed to eat whimps like me for elevenses. But right now, I really need that smile more than anything in the world. Well maybe not more than I need a snugworsticating splange do-er upper, you understand, but you get my drift.
And I say rather sheepishly, “My garage door won’t close.”
And the big guy with the long hair an’ the tattoos an’ the earrings an’ stuff says “Has the zigglydebogaldybok wire come loose? (go easy on me guys, I’m deaf ya know. I didn’t quite get exactly what he said).”
And I say “yeah, I think it did.”
And he says “What you need is a snugworsticating splange doe-er upper.”
And I say, “Yeah, I know. Have you got one?”
And the big guy with the long hair an’ the tattoos an’ the earrings an’ stuff says “Yup. In the back. I used to be a garage door installer, but now I’m a fireman.” And I didn’t ask why he still had his garage door installation tools still in the back now he was a fireman, ‘cos that really would have been a close dental examination of the unrecompensed equine, wouldn’t it?
So the big guy with the long hair an’ the tattoos an’ earrings an’ stuff who used to be a garage door installer but now is a fireman gets out of the big, shiny, black, imposing pick up truck and goes to the flatbed and takes out his snugworsticating splange doe-er upper. And he smiles at me again and he fixes my zigglydebogaldybok wire.
And he won’t take any payment. He just smiles from earring to earring and drives off.
And I realise that I’ve never seen him before. And there was no obvious reason why he should have been where he was just at the moment when I really, really needed him. And somehow I don’t think I’ll be seeing him again in this lifetime.
So I go home and make a cuppa tea. And as I’m sitting drinking it and giving Matt a cuddle, the phone vibrates with a text from the installation company asking how they can help.
And I think about a bible verse – Hebrews 13.2: Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
Yeah, God’s got a sense of humour.