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Entertaining Angels

I view myself as a humble, modest person; and I’m proud of it. A couple years ago, we were getting settled into our winter villa in Palm Springs. What? I’m sorry. I thought everyone had a winter villa in Palm Springs or Arizona. Hmm. No wonder no one feels sorry for me. Well, anyway, that isn’t the point of the story. It is about prejudging others and humbling myself before God and man.

Our very old refrigerator has a cold water dispenser. One day while using it to fill a glass, I heard an unusual hissing sound behind the refrigerator. Soon a little puddle of water was forming in front of the door. Oh, dear. What could it be? After a small struggle, Carol and I pulled the fridge out away from its cubby hole so I could see better what was happening. Sure enough, one of the ¼” plastic water hoses was leaking. The hose was connected to a push-to-connect fitting, and I couldn’t get it off. The space was cramped with just barely room enough to get my fingertips inside. I had to jack up one side of the refrigerator about six inches, place a block of wood under it and work on it laying flat on my back. So now I’m 72 years, laying on my back and working under a 250 lb. refrigerator held up by a block of wood. What could possibly go wrong?

I was becoming more and more frustrated. I needed to remove the push-to connect fittings in order to replace the leaky plastic hose, and I wasn’t able to do it. My frustration became desperation. And what do desperate do-it-yourself men do? Humbly go to God for help and wisdom. Not yet. We go to Home Depot. I am a good electrician, a reasonably good mechanic and a knowledgeable plumber. I can do this!

I had some ideas for a work-around. If I couldn’t get the push-to-connect fitting loose, I’d find another way to replace the tubing. There is always a Plan B or C. Walking down the plumbing aisle at Home Depot, I picked up some ¼” tubing, various push-to-connect fittings and couplings, as well as some crimp connectors. As I stood in the aisle looking at the materials in my cart, a man came up to me and also looked into my cart. I had prejudged him immediately. He was tall, bearded, scruffy, dirty and appeared to be one step away from a homeless tent. I expected a hard luck story and an appeal for money.

Instead, he said, “Do you know how to use those fittings?” Okay, I didn’t need some bum off the street telling me about plumbing and my pride started to surface. “Yes,” I said. “I know how to use these.” He picked up the tubing and slid the push-to-connect coupling onto it. Oh, no, I thought. How am I ever going to get that thing off? Then he said, “Before you slide it on, make sure the tubing is cut square. Then once it is on, pull it back slightly to make sure the “O” ring seats. Otherwise, it may leak.” Hmm. Well, that was something I didn’t know. Then he said, “I’ve been a plumber for over twenty years. You’d be surprised how many people don’t know that.”

Deflated and humbled, I just looked down at my materials and thanked him for his suggestions. There was a long, uncomfortable pause. Then I timidly asked him, “How do I remove the fitting from the tubing?” “Oh, that’s easy,” he replied. Then he picked up the tubing and the fitting he’d installed, held the fitting in one hand and the tubing in the other. Then he pressed inward on the fitting sleeve, and it slipped right off. Effortlessly! I was doing it wrong; just the opposite of the correct way. No wonder I was frustrated. I was wrong, and this guy showed up out of the blue to help me. I felt stupid and grateful at the same time. I felt ashamed of my prejudice.

Later, after processing all that happened and sharing with Carol, I thought of Hebrews 13:2.

Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.

This “angel” saved me a mountain of work and heartache. I was able to fix the leak using the existing push-to-connect fittings and without splices. I would like to say that I have learned my lesson, and humbly ask for help and guidance in every circumstance.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves. Philippians 2:3 NIV

I would like to say that I will always seek out the homeless looking plumber, or others that offer me unsolicited advice.But, alas, I am a work in progress and will be reminded many, many times of my need to humbly seek help and not judge others by their outward appearance.

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