The Furnace Filter

There were tears welling up in his eyes as he began to…

It is that fun time we all look forward to….just about as much fun as doing income taxes…the pain of changing the furnace and AC filter. The system filter for my unit is located up in the attic….groan. This is a cramped and very small crawl space; since it was summer, it was extremely hot.

Nevertheless, it had been two years since the last change (which I did not do), so there was no way out… only up…up the ladder.

Once in the attic getting to the filter was an additional challenge. It was, naturally, located in the worst possible place. To get to it required crawling on hands and knees; no room to stand up. With a great deal of mumbling, I finally was able to locate and remove it.

I took the necessary measurements. Then it was off to Home Depot for a new replacement filter.

It was a quick stop. They sold me the filter I needed and I was back home in about 30 minutes. My kind of shopping, get in, find what you want and get out! Well, almost because the filter was $36.00, far more expensive than what I thought.

So back up into the attic I went, gently dragging the new filter behind me. What’s this! It was a 1/2 inch too thick. It would not fit in the designated slot in spite of trying to manipulate it into place! Most annoyed I crawled back out and checked the measurements listed on the box, Yes indeed, the box read the right size, but the filter was 1/2 inch thicker than the box said.

You guessed right, I was now extremely irritated and frustrated.

I had Enough of Home Depot! I called Jerry’s Home Improvement Center. I talked to Andy and explained what I needed. He assured me they had the right filter, and furthermore, it was down isle B6. I confirmed the isle number before ending our conversation…did not need another disaster purchasing the wrong filter.

Arriving at Jerry’s, I went right to aisle B6, and guess what, wrong aisle, no furnace filters! So I decided to go around and down aisle A6, hoping to find someone to help me. As I turned the corner, I saw an employee, Bill. He was stacking the shelves with some new inventory. I asked him about the filter, and would he help me find the right one. As it turned out, he did not work for Jerry’s but was a factory rep.; he was only there for a couple of hours before moving on to his next assignment. However, he said he would be happy to help me locate the proper filter.

Down to the end of the aisle A6 we found where the filters were located on an upper shelf.  Unfortunately, for me, in my haste to get the job done, I forgot to bring my glasses. I asked if he would retrieve the right filter since I could not clearly see the numbers. I apologized for being a nuisance and explained that over the past 18 months, I had 16 eye surgeries, and had forgotten my glasses.  

He asked about the surgeries…I talked with him about the challenges during those 18 months. It was difficult to maintain my faith and trust in the only real source of hope. I told him I was not concerned, frustrated yes, because I knew it would all work out. I could see that he was carefully considering what I said. There were tears welling up in his eyes, and his voice cracking slightly, when he told me his wife had just died the day before. He said he felt very lost and alone. He thanked me for the words of encouragement and hope.

With the filter in hand, I thanked him for his help and kind patience. He thanked me once again for listening to him and for the encouragement. With that, we parted ways.

As I was walking toward my truck, I began to think about what had just taken place. Getting in the truck, I sat there reflecting on the events of the past two hours…something amazing had just taken place…

Here is what I discovered:

If I had put off changing the filter for another day, which I wanted to do, I would never have met Bill. He was only at Jerry’s for two hours that day…the exact time I came by.

If Home Depot had sold me the right filter, I would not have met Bill.

While at Jerry’s if I had gone to aisle A6 instead of B6, I would have found the filter (without my glasses it would have been difficult but not impossible) then I would not have met Bill.

If after going down aisle B6 and turning down aisle A6, had I not been very frustrated, I would not have asked Bill for help.

If I had not forgotten my glasses, I would have been able to read the size on the box easily. I never would have talked to Bill about my eye surgeries; and shared faith, hope and trust during this most difficult and horrific time. I would never have known the tragic event of his life, and the encouragement he needed.

Then I thought how amazing, kind and compassionate the God we worship is. He turned my frustration into a most beautiful moment to help a complete stranger. He allowed me to give some encouragement to Bill who at that moment in his life needed assurance of Gods’ love for him. God’s grace is total and awesome! He does work in some of the most unexpected ways.

I did not preach to Bill. I simply shared with and assured him that everything would be OK. I related to him how over the previous 18 months God took me from being legally blind to where I now can see very well with glasses. And how the Doctor concluded, to his amazement, it was indeed a miracle.

He began to see the hand of God working in his life as well. It was there all the time; he simply did not recognize it. He face changed and he began to smile.

And yes, the filter fit perfectly; what’s more, it only cost me $12.00!

Changing the filter will always be a constant reminder to me of just how awesome our God is. Could it be He is allowing you to go through a difficult time today so, at a time of His choosing, you can be a source of encouragement to someone else…I just wonder…  

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