In 1996, my husband and I bought our home. It was a cute 920 square-foot house in the perfect location with a fireplace, almost two acres of property, and room for an addition. The only drawback—it had a single, tiny bathroom.
A year later, we added a family room and dining area, but we decided we could live without a second bath until we had saved up enough money to finish the basement. But while the second bath could wait, we needed to do something about our first and only bathroom. Pronto.
“These bathroom tiles are orange,” I told my husband. “And not even a nice, Brady Bunch orange. They’re yucky orange.”
“I can rip those out,” my husband said, “and put in a new sink and toilet. If I do most of the work myself, it won’t cost much.”
“Then we should get a new bathtub, too, while we’re at it. That’s definitely seen better days.”
So while I took the kids to visit my family in Pittsburgh, my handy husband tore our bathroom down to the studs. I talked to him the morning before we planned to drive back home.
“I’m getting ready to put in the tub,” he told me. “Then I’ll put in the tub surround this afternoon, and the toilet and sink tomorrow, so we’ll have a functioning bathroom when you get home.”
“Great!” I said. But when I phoned him that evening, things were not so great.
“I can’t get the surround in the bathroom,” he said, sounding discouraged. “It’s one big piece, and the only way it fits is to rotate it, and it always ends up backwards. So I tried going through the back bedroom closet, where I put the tub in through a hole I made in the wall, and it won’t work that way, either. I’ve tried everything, and I don’t know what to do.”
“Honey, we’re coming home tomorrow. We need a bathtub.”
“Don’t forget, the toilet is out, too, and I can’t install that until I get the surround in.”
I might be able to deal with one bathroom. But no bathroom?
“So what are you going to do?” I asked.
“Keep trying, I guess. I may have to knock out more wall or rip out the tub and return both pieces tomorrow and start all over again.”
I could tell he was exhausted and frustrated. “If we have to, we can stay in Pittsburgh for a few extra days. Just call me tomorrow, and let me know what to do.”
The next morning, I waited to hear from my husband. By nine o’clock, when he still hadn’t phoned, I toyed with calling him. But, to be honest, if the bathtub surround was sitting in the living room, I knew I would have to stay longer in Pittsburgh. I missed my husband, and I wanted to go home.
A few hours later, he finally called.
“You sound pooped,” I said. “How late were you up last night?”
“Till midnight. I tried everything I could think of, and nothing worked. I was so upset I just went to bed.”
I squinted as I held the phone to my ear. For a guy who had just spent most of yesterday trying to stuff a tub surround into a dinky bathroom, he sounded remarkably peaceful. “So, should I stay here then?”
Uh-oh. What was finished? His efforts to get the bathroom done? His sanity? The tub surround, which was now a flattened white mass in the middle of the road after a midnight car rampage?
I bit my lip, afraid to ask. “What do you mean?”
“I mean, the surround’s in the bathroom.”
“It is? How?”
“You’re not going to believe this, but God told me how to do it in a dream.”
“Yeah. I gave up trying at midnight, and I was so tired and mad I just went to bed. But before I fell asleep, I said my prayers and asked God to help me figure out how to get the surround into the bathroom.
“At three o’clock, I sat up, wide awake. I’d just had the most vivid dream, and I now knew the secret to getting that crazy thing into the bathroom. So I got up, and fifteen minutes later, it was done. I was so relieved I went right back to sleep and just got out of bed now.”
I have to admit, I was a little skeptical.
“Honey,” I said. “Are you sure that was God? I mean, maybe it’s like, when you can’t remember something, and then when you quit thinking about it, all of a sudden it just pops into your head.”
“I prayed about it, and I’ve never had a dream like that before. It was God, all right.”
Even now, twenty years later, my husband is certain that dream came from God. But I’m still scratching my head—not because I don’t believe God speaks to us today through dreams, but because, after all the difficult and urgent situations we’ve both faced, the one and only time God chose to speak to either of us through a dream was to instruct my husband about how to solve his bathroom remodeling dilemma!
But our big God has his reasons. And I trust him.
Perhaps the tub surround was a small issue, but it was important to my husband. He knew that his wife and children were counting on him to provide a finished bathroom for our family when we returned home.
We now have a second bathroom. But when I’m showering or cleaning the tub my husband installed, I often think about how our big God worked in my first, small bathroom.
Maybe the tub surround had trouble fitting.
But, as always, our big God didn’t.