Our local laundromat is falling apart. I mentioned in an earlier post it was dilapidated, but convenient for us. On a recent visit to wash a couple loads, I encounter the manager endeavoring to repair a broken down washer while her mother placed several bath towels on the floor to limit the spread of water from said machine to the rest of the business. Oh, if I only had the means . . . I'd move away and buy our own washer and dryer.
We noticed a new laundromat a few miles away from us in Jacksonville. My wife repeatedly mentioned it and said it could be a pleasant alternative to my current choice. I've frequented it several times lately. It is new, bright and full of relatively new equipment. Its a few cents more expensive and further away from home, but I've yet to step over standing water or make careful a selection of a washer or dryer to avoid ones on the fritz.
After a difficult day at work, I gathered our laundry and detergent and a sandwich bag full of quarters and headed out already fatigued to the shiny new laundromat in Jacksonville. Upon arriving, I carried in the two laundry baskets full of clothes, towels and our shower curtain which needed a bath, navigated past rolling baskets and clientele to make my selection of three washers in a row.
Two of the machines used to wash towels and the shower curtain finished their cycles. I placed the clean curtain in the car and the towels in a dryer, inserted quarters and turned it on. The third washer was the temperamental one. It stayed in the washing cycle. I couldn't interrupt it, stop it or unload it.
There was a phone number painted on the front door glass of the laundromat. Customers were invited to use it in case of an emergency. I decided this constituted an emergency for me. I certainly wanted to retrieve my underwear and April's work shirts and not leave them to spin in that machine in perpetuity.
I finished my initial call to the answering service for the Continental Laundromats at 5:40 p.m. A technician was promised to arrive soon to assist me. I finally left after 9 p.m. without retrieving clothes still stuck in the wash cycle. I left several voicemails getting more frustrated as the hours ticked by. One of the last voicemails finally received a response. In a text, I was informed the attendant for this laundromat was out-of-town until the next day. Calls have been made to find an available technician who could come to Jacksonville. One was found in Albertville (ironically) and was on their way to my location. I responded with a voicemail stating I would return early the next morning so tell the tech to leave the clothes in the open washer for me to collect and dry on my own.
The next morning, I returned after 7 to find the machine still in the washing cycle and locked tight. As I stood watching my clothes continuing to flip and flop inside, a customer loaded the machine next to mine. He glanced first at the machine and then at me.
"This machine hasn't stopped washing my clothes since 5 o'clock yesterday," I said. The gentleman pushed the stop button on the front of the machine and asked if that would work. I said it stops momentarily but goes back to washing in a second or two. I then called the answering service to report the machine hadn't been touched apparently by a tech of any kind overnight.
Before I completed my message on their voicemail the customer I just talked to informed me the door was open. I abruptly ended the message with an exclamation and something about not needing their help after all. The gentleman informed me he held the stop button down and pressed on the lever on the door. It clicked open. I thanked him graciously. He said it was nothing. He was a problem solver at work, and this is what he did everyday.
Though this was a crazy circumstance, I never became unhinged. I didn't pray about it either until finishing the third voicemail. After that, they started updating me about the nearest technician, and when I could expect them. I was tired from a difficult work day. As I shared in the last post, fatigue often has its way with me emotionally Despite my day, I stayed calm and peaceful though stern and direct on the voicemail messages. I simply wanted to make sure somebody knew I was waiting for technical support.
It hasn't been lost on me, however, that the load in the washer was just April's and my clothes. Clothes are coverings, and in the prophetic, a covering is often akin to anointing for ministry. They were thoroughly cleansed. Our coverings, however, are not usable because they're locked away, and we can't get them. We need help.
It was all fixed by a guy who chose to use the washer right next to mine (one I used the day before) though the whole business was absent any other customers or laundry. This guy chose to be next to my machine. He wasn't asked to assist, but this kind of thing is what he does in his job, helps fix situations. He simply opened it maybe because the cleaning was over.
While at the laundromat in the evening, I continued to ask in my soul and spirit what this situation could be telling me. What's the message parabolically or metaphorically? What's God telling me in this?
I first thought for several days afterward it all had to do with the thorough cleaning of our coverings for the days ahead. I was fine with that until earlier today, knowing I was finishing this post and completing this triad of "Its My Turn to Fight" posts, a thought came to me I don't believe was mine. I thought this story could illustrate how we get back on the path of ministry and head back to Sand Mountain. The washer was not opened how I expected it to be. Maybe we move on from here not how I think we will be. A tech never came though I badgered them without hesitation. A guy came out of nowhere, used the machine next to mine in an empty laundromat and said he does this kind of thing everyday. There will be resolution in ways we cannot foresee or expect. I find great hope in this.
We live in a time of militancy fueled by opinion, speculation, prejudice and fears. Plenty of people are looking for a fight to join. Stupid social media is full of such. Biased politicians and news sources want these same people on their sides as they head for ratings sweeps and primaries and general elections. All this coupled with the church joining sides and being as steadfast in what they believe as any bigoted bar stool patron sitting in a pub shouting at an umpire on t.v. making a call against his hometown team. Is it any wonder April and I have found it difficult to hear voices in or outside the church that speak our language and feed our souls these days?
I heard myself say in that dream weeks ago, "Its my turn to fight." The question remains the same - What's the battle? We've grown tired of the fight, a fight to oppose the spiritual opponent deterring our hope and attacking our faith with doubts, fears, anger and diversions.
When I have a thought outside myself enlivening my spirit by imparting to me the relevant possibility that resolution will come in ways I haven't conceived like a "Fixer" coming in disguised as a customer, I can believe the ultimate fight is not up to me. I'll fight in a weekend skirmish and learn what fatigue can still do to me, but the fight may not be barraging heaven for what's been promised like making a dozen voicemail calls to get a technician that never comes.
Maybe the washing cycle ran for over 14 hours to illustrate we've been here too long, and the ultimate answer will not come from sending heaven voicemails relentlessly. It may come from simple assistance coming alongside and doing what I didn't think or know to do.
April sat down this morning and asked the Lord for scripture for her day. Matthew 5: 5-6 came.
Blessed are the meek for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be filled.
Maybe its not meek to say verse five sounds like us, but I believe we're due. Verse six was given to me back in Albertville during a Tuesday night prayer service. We've wanted more for so long; not to simply be fat and sassy but to seek the manifestation of right-standing in relationship with God by being willing vessels of his will in the world.
These verses came after I read while still in the bed a Facebook post from Bethel TV:
When you try to fight for something that you receive from inheritance, you get exhausted. Sometimes you only receive when you sit down, be quiet and learn how to be a son or a daughter. - Bill Johnson
The lesson of the parable of the washing cycle that wouldn't stop is not to send enough voicemails to get somebody's attention to send a tech. The washing cycle was stuck to illustrate this has gone on too long. The answer, the relief, the opening of a locked door will come in ways we haven't conceived nor manipulated into existence. Well then, what's the fight? Maybe Memorial Day weekend was it.
We're tired of fighting the big fight. We're a daughter and a son. We surrendered into the hands of a good, good Father long ago. We trust and love him. We have an inheritance. Our hunger and thirst is satisfied and will yet be satisfied still. Exhaustion can only be relieved by resting. So, we rest and trust. Alleluia.