Every married man has a mental (well thumbed) copy of the manual, compiled by men across the centuries, entitled ‘How to come through when your wife asks the impossible’
It was 4.30am, 30’C, 90% humidity, and she had to leave early for a factory visit and where were her only pair of jeans ? (she had nothing else to wear).They were in the laundry shop because someone had forgotten to pick them up. I groaned internally.
It was true. It was my job. Every week, with the precision and efficiency of the German Railways, I picked up the laundry and dropped off the new batch. It takes 20 minutes dead. The shop didn’t open until 8am and she needed to leave by 5am.
I reached for the manual. There was only one reference entry for this situation, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. One stick of dynamite on each side of the laundry door, blow it open, rush in , get the jeans , come back, save the day and do 10 years for criminal damage. It might have been worth the stretch too but my dynamite was in my other jeans, and you know where they were. No, not even Beckham could score from this angle.
At the end of my strength I did the only thing I could do, I hid; behind the shield that we use to put out the flaming darts of our loved ones, I stated the obvious: ‘I was not a magician’. And then, as if by magic, the cavalry arrived.
The power and majesty of the living God could not have been more obvious if a giant hand had shot down through the sky, come crashing through the roof and pointed, or if a voice had bellowed ‘Behold’ or if my Guardian Angel had grabbed the last un-chewed part of my remaining ear and pulled it down into the laundry basket. I knew in this moment how Moses felt as he watched the Red Sea open before him: there they were, sat on top of the basket: her jeans.
I was tempted to savour this moment, borrow a top hat ,black cape and white gloves,(maybe a cane), string a few socks together and put on a brief show first but the clock was ticking so I just brought them over to her and got back the sweetest smile ever. She knows a miracle when she sees one too. The ball was in the back of the net, and God saved the day.
In my minds eye I could see all my tutors grinning back at me, the men I respect and admire who have gone before me, who had stood in the arena alone, who know, as I am beginning to know, that God is Good, faithful, present, and He is our alliance.
My last mental image as dawn breaks and the coffee percolates is my favourite, a Spitfire, skirting the white cliffs, engine roaring, about half throttle, the pilot gently pushes the stick to the right and it turns over in a smooth victory roll; then banks right and climbs steeply up into the sun. The post-it note on the altimeter reads, ‘pick-up laundry’. Not by precision or efficiency but through adversity to the stars.