Where to Look

The boiler.

Anyone who’s been responsible for a home knows those words. I bet they instill a sense of dread. Maybe even set off a headache.

Well, in the church where I’m staying now, the hot water burner wasn’t working, so I went down to investigate. I’m no expert, but everything seemed to be in place, and it looked exactly like it did when it was working. The only difference was that on the other side of the room, one of the oil tanks was missing because it was being replaced. I didn’t have a clue what the problem might be. Meanwhile, the church has no heat for the masses, so we called the serviceman.

So the serviceman comes and inspects, while I had some other things to take care of. In about a half an hour, he was done. As I walked him out the door, he explained that it was all set, all fixed. A valve that was attached to the missing tank just wasn’t fully closed off, and so the oil wasn’t being delivered. He smiled after telling me, and said, “It’s a simple solution – if you know where to look.”

That one little half-turn of a valve is what cost the entire heat to the church, making a lot of people uncomfortable and taking up time and energy to figure out the problem. The solution to that big problem was one simple thing.

You just needed to know where to look.

There is a moment in the Gospel of John where the disciples spend all night fishing and can’t catch a thing. They hear a voice from the shore that tells them to put the nets on the other side of the boat. I’m not a fisherman, but knowing my own expertise, I don’t know how I would react. How could something so simple make any difference. Well, maybe you know the story: they listen and throw the net over the other side and then catch more fish than they could every imagine.

Someone knew where to look.

So much of my life and yours is complicated because we look for big solutions to big problems, when in reality, the solution isn’t there. It’s a good reminder that the solutions to the biggest problems are actually very simple.

You just have to know where to look.

“Cast the net over the right side of the boat and you will find something.” (Jn 21:6)

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