We had some plumbing work done at our house recently. As the foreman’s sledgehammer broke through the concrete outside to reveal the cause of our plumbing problems, we laughed and shook our heads in amazement. The pipes were not glued together – at all. Whole lengths of pipe were just plain missing, leaving water to seep into the ground and allowing dirt to backfill into the system. While the pipes had been hidden under the concrete, evidence of their dysfunction still appeared as gritty grey water gurgled up our drains. Incredibly, we found out that it had been this way for more than two decades!
On a vastly larger, more devastating scale, the danger of construction shortcuts like these was graphically illustrated three years ago during the earthquake that leveled much of Port-au-Prince. Decades of poor building practices caused scores of structures to fall and more than 200,000 people were killed. I don’t know that I’ve met a person here that didn’t lose someone they loved on that awful day.
It is easy to deplore such shoddy work and become indignant and even angry at those who left their work half-done, with such grievous consequences. But when I am honest with myself I must confess that I often take shortcuts in my own life. To the detriment of myself and others, I allow the urgent rush of everyday life to edge into the time that I should be investing in more significant pursuits, like giving my kids my undivided attention or spending time in prayer for this still-hurting nation.
Prioritizing my “to do” list may not cause immediate problems. In fact, just like our plumbing, years may pass without major incident, but that does not diminish the damage done – it just hides it from view for a time.
My prayer today is that we will rededicate ourselves to the truly significant tasks in our lives and perform them to the best of our ability, so that when life’s “sledgehammers” and “earthquakes” test us, we will not be found lacking.