How Stupid the rebel Washing Machine taught me a very valuable lesson.
Dr. Brad Zockoll, GCA Upper School Bible

Dr. Brad Zockoll, GCA Upper School Bible Instructor, writes regularly on his personal blog.  Enjoy one of his recent posts and catch a glimpse of what God taught him through a wayward washing machine.

It’s early Sunday morning and I have about a half an hour of quiet until the family wakes up and I want to share something with you, so I’m going to hurry.

It’s about Stupid Washing Machine and Stupid Washing Machine II.

About three days into our Christmas vacation the ladies of the family were out doing their holiday shopping (I encourage this heartily because my kindness may be remembered when it comes to choice purchases for my personal gifts) and I was home in quiet solitude.  I decided to throw in a load of laundry and then do some book research while I kept washing and drying a couple of loads throughout the morning.

This is a matter of trust because Stupid, our clothes washing machine, has been acting unnaturally since we moved to Oak Ridge.  He’s done dumb things before, hence his name.  This time, though, as I typed away on the laptop, I couldn’t help but feel that Stupid was in a stage of outright rebellion.  Perhaps it’s his protest in being relocated.

So Stupid stopped running, right in the first cycle.

I thought that the power had gone out; perhaps the breaker had flipped?  It didn’t take me long to find out that Stupid had gone to the Kenmore Warehouse in the Sky.

I had to start shopping for a new washer, but I wanted to cut corners, you know, save a few bucks.  I decided to go on the internet to one of the local shopping sites and, instead of buying a new clothes washer, I would get one of the local handymen who keeps a whole garage full of used washers and get a nice used model.

Hey, it started off okay.  The fellow came in, set up the machine, and gave me a three day guarantee.  Seemed good, and the price was right.

Until I did the first load.

Oh, the load came through okay.  Everything inside the washing tub was fine.

It was outside of the washer.

I was walking in inch-deep water.

For the next couple of hours I searched and looked and did a second load trying to see what was wrong.  I scoured and inspected as only a layman with no appliance experience whatsoever can do, but could not get to the problem.  And my feet were wet.

I finally called the handyman-used-washer guy back.  He sent an apprentice.

“I can’t figure it from here,” he said, puzzling over the machine the way those guys do.  You know the face. “Could be a hose, but I don’t think so.”  He looked at me.  “Let’s turn it over and take a look inside, get serious about finding this.”

So we did.  We flipped over Stupid II and searched.  And searched.  I finally had to go back to the laptop – I had a deadline – and after fifteen minutes I heard a noise from the utility room.  I heard the Apprentice Guy groan.

“I found it,” he said, pointing to a small hole in the bottom of the tub.  He shook his head.  “I told my boss you can’t keep these washers out in an unheated garage.  That’ll crack these tubs every time.”

IMG_7707

Queen Mary on her maiden voyage.

They were nice about it and gave me a full refund.  Guess what:  we bought a brand new washer.  She can handle a massive load.  I have dubbed her the Queen Mary.

My point is that I had no idea what was wrong, and needed to do a deeper inspection in order to get to the root of the whole situation.  This carries over into my Bible studies.

And here is where I found something HUGE.  

I was reading through Genesis 29 and came upon the narrative of the life of Jacob and Esau – always good stuff if you want adventure, intrigue and a inspection of a man’s personal dealing with guilt and God.  I was following along at a brisk pace but stopped when I came upon this memorable clip in the middle of the story line. If you remember the passage, it is at this point that Jacob has suggested that the shepherds take their flocks, water them, and head back out to the field.  Small story.  It doesn’t seem like much until you look for the Lesson.

Follow me.  Here is their response:
 
“We can’t,” they replied, “until all the flocks are gathered and the stone has been rolled away from the mouth of the well. Then we will water the sheep.”
 
This stuck with me.  Stuck hard.  I searched the Bible commentaries but found nothing to expound on this intriguing part of Scripture found in the First Testament. This bothered me.  I didn’t want to move on without seeing this small portion at what I believe to be its full strength…

 

Symbolism.  Sheer unadulterated symbolism staring me right in the face.
 
First: we know that sheep are used as a symbol of unsaved man, right?  Second: water is a symbol of the eternal life given by Jesus Christ.  When I put those two together, this passage started to glow.
 
Here is my homework.  I’ve put the symbols in italics and surrounded them with parentheses:
 
The shepherds (pastors, missionaries, witnesses) are encouraged to take the sheep back out into the field (world?“We can’t,” they replied, “until all the flocks are gathered…” The shepherds (witnesses, missionaries, pastors) realized the unsaved people could not go into the world and be safe without the water (Word of salvation)…
 
“…and the stone has been rolled away from the mouth of the well…”
 
The parallel between this stone rolled away and the tomb’s stone being rolled away so that Life may begin is so striking that I cannot ignore it. Roll this stone away and you have access to life-giving water. Roll the Garden’s tombstone away and you have access to the Water of Life. He’s not in the manger anymore, nor is He just a shepherd and teacher. You must roll the stone away and see Jesus for Who He is, and accept Him as such, for you to have Life.
 
Closer inspection taught me a valuable lesson today.
 
“Then we will water the sheep.” The true witness for Christ knows that the Risen Christ is the Jesus that will save.
 
You see, my indifferent approach to witnessing is not acceptable.  Nor is my witnessing effort complete if all I do is pull back the straw in the Manger so that the unsaved can see baby Jesus and be content.  My witness is not to pick up the basket and show them the fish and loaves that brim over the top, provided by Miracle Jesus.  That’s not enough.  Nor is it enough for me to hand them the book off the library shelf and let them be content with the Teaching Jesus.
 
That doesn’t cut it.
 
I must guide my non-believing friends to the Rolled-Away Stone and let them see Life.  The risen Jesus.  Now mind you, I cannot move the Stone myself;  God has already done that.  My missionary work is to guide people to take a look for themselves.  When they themselves look past that Stone and see the Life Giving Answer in full glory – much like the shepherds had to get to the water for the sheep, not just talk about it or sit nearby – then my friends will get to the Answer to all mankind.  The risen Jesus.  God Himself.
 
I admit I’m dense when it comes to getting answers, but God is very kind in showing me His instruction. This is one of those times.
 
Have a great Sunday!
 
Dr. Brad Zockoll, Upper School Bible Instructor, is a passionate writer and teacher.  He's been an integral part of the GCA faculty for many years and has impacted the lives and spiritual growth of hundreds of students through his daily Bible classes, chapel, and retreats.