Since Janice is pregnant she has a super doppler sense of smell.
If a stinkbug farts in the attic, she’ll stop what she’s doing and look at me accusingly while raising an eyebrow.
“What?” I’ll ask, bewildered.
“Was that you?” She grimaces. “Ugh!”
“What?” I’m still confused.
“That wasn’t you? This house has been stinking worse than normal lately.”
“That’s just because you’re pregnant and can smell everything.”
A week later I started smelling something too. It was coming from the basement. I had just hooked up the gas dryer and so I was a little concerned that it was leaking somewhere and would kill us in the middle of the night. However, it didn’t smell like natural gas, it smelled more like when you leave your car windows open and it rains in your car and then stays wet for three weeks, except worse. I went down into the basement and walked around pulling in large gulps of air through my nostrils until I was dizzy but I couldn’t quite get a read on where it was coming from.
I shrugged my shoulders and figured a mouse died somewhere. If I ignored the problem for a week, it should go away, right? What’s the decay rate on a small mouse? I figured a week should clear it up.
But the smell got worse. And worse. I checked the basement corners. I moved things, looked under things, poked pipes, sniffed the heat ducts, and even cleaned the filter on the dehumidifer. Maybe a whole village of mice had died in a tribal feud, I pondered the possibilities. Maybe a weird mouse cult committed mass suicide in my basement somewhere. These things happen.
“Buy some candles and FeBreeze at Aldi’s next time you go,” I told Janice. Nothing like some old fashioned airborne chemicals to cover up the funk coming from the basement.
When I was sixteen, one of my good friends had an old car that had a hole rusted in the passenger floorboard. Every time it rained, the carpet would get soaking wet. The carpet would slowly dry out but not before it smelled like the backwoods of a musty swamp. He would buy a case of FeBreeze and keep it on the backseat. He would also use it on himself if he didn’t have time to shower.
As I was standing in the basement staring into space and reminiscing about FeBreeze, it occurred to me! There was a small, three foot crawl space under the downstairs bathroom. Apparently it was added on after the house was built. It is only accessible by a small window above several sagging shelves full of heavy canned goods. I stood on a bucket, cracked the window open, and was accosted by a formidable wall of trumpet vine tendrils draped in spiderwebs along with an awful smell which quickly singed the hair off of my nostrils.
I got an extension cord and my hedge trimmer and hacked the trumpet vines out of the way. Then I took a big breath and popped my head through the window.
It turns out that the kitchen sink drain travels into our basement and then runs through the basement wall and into the bathroom’s crawl space. The kitchen sink drain had a hole rusted through it and so every time we used the drain, most of the water ended up in the crawl space. Imagine taking your dirty dish water with all kinds of noodle bits, corn kernels, and half chewed chicken chunks, and throwing it down your basement steps. Then let it rot for a week or two. That’s basically what was happening.
When it comes to renting houses, people have different opinions but one nice thing is that I get to text the landlord and let him take care of problems. I texted the landlord, cleaned the couple inches of rotting gunk out of the crawl space, put a bucket under the pipe, and then let him deal with fixing it. We do have a great landlord who takes care of problems promptly, so no complaints there.
This whole situation made me think of sin and how it progresses in someone’s life. I don’t know if normal people think this way or not, but this analogy occurred to me as I was slurping rotting junk out of the crawl space with a Shop-Vac.
The problem starts out somewhere deep in a hidden part of your life as sin begins to corrode the septic pipes in your soul. Eventually your soul pipes pop a leak and start dripping sin. It’s just a little sin, not much. It kind of stinks but a fancy WoodWick candle or a can of FeBreeze will cover it up. It’s easy to ignore. You push on, unwilling to address the leak. Too much work. It also really stinks when you start to disturb everything.
Eventually though you start to stink pretty bad as the leak gets worse and worse. Other people may begin noticing. You go to great lengths to cover it up, going so far as to buy stock shares in FeBreeze. You begin ordering crates of FeBreeze off of Amazon. They begin to deliver semi-trailers of it to your house but you don’t have an unloading dock at your house so you build one. Then your friends are like, “Hey bro, why did you build a loading dock on your front porch?”
You make up a story about starting an international coffee company. The problem is that you never drink anything other than McDonald’s coffee so you don’t know the finer points of coffee expertise. You begin researching the coffee prices in Argentina, the different methods of roasting beans, and even buy some civet cats to start your own exotic in-house roasts. You start a job at a coffee shop just to learn the different ways to make coffee so your friends find your ruse more believable. The coffee shop doesn’t pay well and you begin to regret your decisions but there’s no way out now… See how exhausting all this is?
Stop the charade. The Holy Spirit is the best soul plumber you’ll find. He’ll quickly find the problems, point them out to you, and – if you let Him – he’ll replace your entire plumbing system. You’ll be amazed how good you feel when your soul isn’t full of FeBreeze chemicals!
Josh & family