"An Inside Perspective"

December 2006

My dear family in Christ,

Ever-precious greetings in the name of our LORD Jesus Christ! In my recent Christmas letter I wrote about how I became a steeple-jack by trade. In Allenhurst, I was "on call" to work on their water tank. At any given time, I could receive a call for help from their water department's engineer. One summer morning a call came that they were having problems with the water level indicator. The engineer explained that the indicator was stuck. He was not sure whether the problem was on the inside or out of the tank, so he asked me to do an inspection, determine the source of the problem, and remedy it.

My helpers and I packed up the equipment for the job. The outside work required bosun's chairs for hanging over the side, ropes of various lengths, safety belts, and hooks, etc. The inside required a bathing suit (wetsuit in the winter), an inner-tube to float on, and various tool boxes.

First, I am let down over the side of the tank in the bosun's chair. Dangling at one-hundred and fifty feet, I swing over to the indicator and discover the problem is not outside but in.

The water level inside of tanks goes up and down throughout the course of the day in accordance with the town's water consumption. People use water most at breakfast and dinner times so the level is the lowest. The perfect time for working inside a tank is between 1:00-4:00pm when water usage is minimal. We enter the tank from the top, through a hatch, like on a submarine, one man at a time. Ideally, you want the water to be at its highest point when you put the inner-tube through the hatch and into the water. Then, you get on it, yep, just like when we were kids. Next, you tie the floating toolboxes to the inner-tube and paddle backwards over to the inside mechanics of the water level indicator. The idea is that the properly functioning indicator can be easily viewed from the engineer's station. He can then regulate the water accordingly.

Finally, we gear up to make the drop inside. Buddy, my helper, volunteers to go in. It's about 1:00pm, so the water level is high, and should remain so for about three hours. We put the inner-tube through the hatch and into the water, and then with a safety rope, we ease Buddy down into the water. He swims to the tube and gets on it, and then paddles backwards over to the problem area, tools in tow. Buddy discovers a rusted out U-bolt that is causing the problem. Fortunately, we have the exact size bolt needed on hand. As the other helper hands it to me, he drops it! I hear clank-clank-clank as it bounces off the side of the tank on its way down to never-never land. I give him a look to melt ice.

I'm real hot now! I have to very quickly climb all the way down, shoot to the supply house, buy the bolt, drive back, again climb up the tank and hope that the water level is still high enough for Buddy to reach the bolt and fix it. At this point, my helper is avoiding eye contact, because he knows that if our eyes meet, he's fired.

I tell Buddy the plan and off I go. About an hour later, I'm back and I yell down into the hole for Buddy who has been casually napping on the inner-tube in the summer's heat. Kids are coming home from school now, mothers are cooking dinners, after work showers are starting and the water is lowering fast! I give Buddy the bolt as he hurriedly paddles off to finish his business. The water is receding very rapidly now and I'm starting to wonder if I can even get Buddy out in time? If the water gets to low I won't get him out till late at night when it rises up again. His fate is in my hands. He simply cannot get out without me and I know it---I decide to toy with him. (smile)

He finishes his work and paddles back to the hatch. Because he's big and chubby, each time I try to pull him out, he slips and splashes back down into the water. The water is ebbing radically fast now. I see panic in his eyes and being the rascal that I am, with my unsaved self, I look at him with the straightest face I can muster and say, "It's no use Buddy, you'll have to stay in there till tomorrow when the level comes back up. I'll go get you some dinner to hold you over till then." There is terror on his face now as I close the hatch and pitch darkness consumes him. I then pretend to leave. After a minute, I open it back up and yell, "Psyche!" He is fit to be tied! We get him out, have some laughs, and finish the job.

Buddy drank himself to death by the age of thirty. Sadly, pitch darkness has truly consumed him now. I never told him about Jesus because I didn't know. Now I know and tell everyone. Like Buddy in the tank, people can't get out of their sin on their own. The equipment for the job is God's spirit, through His Word, shared by you. The Holy Spirit will do an inspection, determine that the problem is on the inside, and remedy it with the blood of Christ. It is written, "Look unto the fields, they are ripe unto harvest!" Time is short, do not toy with people because . . .

" . . The water is ebbing radically fast now!"

Joyfully in Jesus,
Fisherman Philip