Pastor Harvey VS the Porcelain Throne

I love my wife. I really do. She’s pretty swell. And, she puts up with me. Odds were that I wouldn’t be able to find 1 person in the 6 or 7 billion people on the planet that would love me, put up with me, and make me a better person, but I did. She’s pretty awesome.

Normally, I put something that I think is worthy of reflection, or thought on here. But if you’ve heard any of my sermons, you may know that I like to laugh, make others laugh, and attempt to work in jokes now and then.

Of course, last week, my jokes went over like a lead balloon. Kiera still doesn’t get the one I told on Sunday. But that’s another story. Breaking from my normal routine, I would like to provide you all with a written account of my morning.

I’m doing the music at a revival in Bay Minette this week. We’re having a wonderful time. Combined with that, and our men’s Bible study that began yesterday morning at 6:30am, and some extra time I put in over the last few days, I took a few hours off from the normal routine this morning to engage in anything but normal activities.

You see, Sarah bought the kids some of those “swishie cups” as they like to call them:


Yeah, those. And on day #1, you guessed it.

Ben runs in saying – “Mommy, the toilet won’t flush!”

Can you guess why? Yup! He had decided that flushing his used cup down the toilet was the proper way of disposing of those cups.

Combine this with some visiting family this week, and we had a fair urgency to get the toilet flushing again. Except for one problem – I’m too cheap to pay someone else to fix it, too proud to beg someone to help for free, and too incapable of repairing it myself.

So this morning, I woke up with a superhero shirt on and decided that I would be my wife’s hero. I would fix the toilet!


Now mind you, I can barely gas up a car. If I repair anything, it is only because God Himself imparted to me the wisdom and grace needed – because when it comes to being a handy man, I am not.

Top things my wife does:

1. Kills spiders.

2. Repairs things

3. Finds my wallet for me

4. Finds my keys for me

5. Finds other things for me

6. Finds me a shirt when I complain that I no longer own any

7. Occasionally, keeps a chocolate stash that I know nothing about, so that when I become a desperate raving lunatic, she reveals the chocolate stash, thus saving the day and becoming my own little heroine.

So, in this twisted household of role reversal, I decide that this toilet is no match for me. I’ve preached to hundreds and have played piano to thousands. I’ve been to 8 or 10 countries! I know at least 30 words in spanish! I have several expensive pieces of paper on my office wall saying that education institutions believe I was smart enough and paid them enough that I could have their endorsement for several activities.

This toilet doesn’t stand a chance!

So, I get out my phone and pull up a “how to change the wax seal” on the bottom of a toilet. My rationale is – that cup is in there somewhere, and I have to break the seal, so that’s how I’m going to go about it.”

Step 1 – remove all of the water – easy.

Step 2 – remove the screws – somewhat less easy, but I manage using a tool that I still don’t know what it is named. It looks like this:


So I get that out. Not too much water gushes out – see step 1.

Step 3 – disconnect water. I managed.

Step 4 – Wiggle the toilet back and forth til the seal breaks, and lift it up.

Do you remember that scene in the Lord of the Rings in which Sam and Frodo are walking out of the Shire, and Sam tells Frodo, “This is as far as I’ve gone?”

Well, in the world of plumbing, I’ve already crossed that point. And for me to get a toilet off of the ground will, potentially, reveal a world of treasure and intrigue, the likes of which I’ve never experienced.

So, I manage.

Now, from here, I improvise. Because now I’m looking at a hole in the bathroom floor for the first time in my life, and there is no cup. Hmm.

So I need to look into the bottom of the toilet. But it is big, and heavy. So I improvise by taking the tank off of the bottom part. And so now, I have just the bottom part. I place it oh so precariously on the edge of the tub and look into the bottom of the toilet and – Bingo! A cup! And not just one, 2!

Now, The cup was facing up (though with the toilet tilted, it wasn’t) – and even applying a reasonable degree of mathematical equations and engineering principles would’ve arrived at the conclusion that the cups were liable to contain…foreign objects. But I’m just so excited that I haven’t broken anything yet, and so I stick my hand up in there to try to pry the cups out. And they wouldn’t budge.

So I grab the nearest screwdriver and started prying, and twisting, and poking, and—success!

My sister-in-law is staying with us for a few days and is sleeping in the next room. And this is the part where she heard me. Up until now, I’ve done my best to be quiet, as to not wake her up. But what happened next….the cups come out, and along with that, what they are holding drips from my hands, all the way down my arms, and I begin gagging, attempting not to throw up all over the bathroom, and thus making a horrible situation much, much worse.

Also, I have a toilet precariously balanced over the side of a tub.

Quickly I let the toilet down, because there’s a cup of poo in my free hand, and there is also a stream of poo coming from the toilet onto the bathroom floor now.


Surely, she heard me again. Because now, I have a poo-filled arm, a poo-filled cup, a slowly-poo-filling bathroom floor, some poo in the tub, and a cracked toilet base.

Folks, I don’t do well with poo. I can’t clean up messes very well. I have a pretty bad gag reflex. And at this moment in life, about 4 hours ago at the time of writing this, I arrived at a God-given conclusion:

I could never be a plumber.

This has already been a long story, but to summarize the rest of it – I managed to put a new seal on the toilet and get it back on the floor. Turns out that the crack isn’t a deal-breaker – it didn’t go into the “main part” (forgive my highly educated technical jargon). Nothing that duct tape couldn’t fix!

My own life resembles this sometimes. It is a broken comedy of errors at times. To fix one thing is to send 3 or 4 other things to pieces. It is hard to be a good husband AND father AND pastor AND friend AND writer AND musician AND video-game-playing-extraordinaire. I just can’t do it. I can barely keep those things prioritized correctly, much less in working order at any given time.

Our natural inclination is to “work on things.” To fix it. To get out our toolbox and try to be a better person. And all the time, we are attempting to repair a problem that is not within our ability to repair.

The speaker at the revival put it well – we work so much on ourselves, worry about ourselves so much – we are so busy trying to make ourselves moral sinners – because that’s all we can do. We can address our own moral principles, but we cannot address our sin problem on our own. And even the most moral sinner out there falls miserably short of being in “original working order.”

Living in a relationship with God doesn’t start with having it all together. Rather, it starts in a resignation and a surrender. “God, I can’t fix this mess. I’m tired of trying. I surrender. My life is yours.”

And at that moment and onward, we cease being the construction foreman of our own lives, and fall into His perfect will, and find ourselves attended to by promises and the presence of God that far exceeds our own ability to build ourselves into good people.

2 Corinthians 12:9

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.


2 thoughts on “Pastor Harvey VS the Porcelain Throne

  1. Anonymous says:

    Only you pastor Harvey great story

  2. Alison Doerfler says:

    Oh our wonderfully -handyman incapable friend. I so miss you. Hahaha. Will be sharing with Ashlie.

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