Saturday, August 5, 2023

The Plug

I recall one fine fall day during my middle school years.  My 3 siblings and I had just stepped out into the crisp, autumn afternoon air, which was a staunch contrast to the stale, rotting smell of body odor which permeated the yellow bus of our recent departure.  It was the kind of day that made you feel fresh on the inside.  You know the ones…the kind of a day that puts a smile on your face and just makes you happy to be alive…and no longer in school.  The four of us entered our home to find our father standing there to our left.  He was working inside the baby blue bathroom with the door open, wearing a defeated scowl on his face.  He had a blue toilet lying prone on the floor by his feet.

“Two pickles,” he grumbled.

It was an odd greeting to be sure.

“What was that Dad?” I asked.

“Argrmmmph,” he replied through clenched teeth.

“Dad?...What are you doing with the toilet?” These were the words of my older brother.


“No thanks…I’d rather have cookies.” These were the words of my younger brother.

“Why…why…why?” He continued to grumble.

“Can I use the potty daddy? I really have to go to the potty! Can I go to the potty now daddy!?” These were the words from my baby sister.

As we entered the kitchen we found our mother.  She was sitting alone at the kitchen table.  I could not tell if her face was red and embarrassed or white with fear or blue with sadness.  I figured she must be feeling especially patriotic.  Yet, her words spoke otherwise.  She too was mumbling…“I thought…they seemed like the same size…I figured why not?  Pickles aren’t THAT big…there were just two of them…there wasn’t a turd…I mean third.”

Needless to say…two pickles was two too many.

The legend of the pickles has remained a topic of levity, remorse, inspiration and as a sober reminder of what NOT to do with two stale, dill pickles left unwanted for too long in the refrigerator.  Despite the lessons of the pickles, I have still found myself in a similar position as my father, caused by a variety of clogs and plugs in my own Olson home.   I have battled clogs from grease, hair, toothpaste…and well…you know.  In most cases, a plugged sink or toilet will eventually empty itself as water slowly passes through the clog.  When the clog is finally cleared…it is kind of like flushing the toilet…well…it is exactly like flushing the toilet.  Whether it is a newly cleaned sink drain, tub drain or plunged toilet the water goes screaming through the pipes like snot from a sneeze. 

I see this phenomena playing out in a much darker picture within Paul’s writings in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12.  Here we are confronted with the mystery of the “Restrainer.”  We know very little about who or what this restrainer really is, but what we can see is that God is restraining the flow of evil into the world where we currently find ourselves.  Yet, one day, that restrainer will be removed, and when the restrainer is removed evil will be free to gush and flow in all of its lawless horror.  Praise God that this will be for just a short time. 

In the meantime, may we find the truth of God’s word, and relish that God is still at work restraining evil as we anticipate the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

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