A Broken Oven, No Electricity and a Spiritual ‘Aha!’ Moment

If there ever was an opportunity to let go and let God, this was it.

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Posted in , Jan 4, 2022

Edward and Gracie

I’m calling this past holiday season The Revolt of the Machines. At least as far as my holiday went.

The uprising began on the evening of December 23. Our oven failed. We were having a guest for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and this would not do. We’d planned several meals involving the oven. Good luck finding someone to repair or replace it on Christmas Eve. (It would take several weeks as a matter of fact.)

We managed it all with a toaster oven, the microwave and the stove (three of the burners still worked). But we had to shrink the menu.

A few days after Christmas my vehicle revolted. Well, sort of. It displayed a message stating that I was about to exceed the allotted yearly miles as per my lease agreement. I was unaware of this stipulation. I thought I signed up for a certain number of miles spanning the life of the lease and not parceled out yearly. At the time, Gracie and I were parked by a trailhead where we were about to embark on a hike. Would my vehicle simply refuse to operate, stranding us out here in the frozen wilderness? A call to my dealership allayed my fears but there would be additional fees of course. 

While we were hiking, I got a call from Julee. The power had failed at the house.  Gracie and I rushed home to find a lineman high on a pole working on a transformer. There was a flash and a boom. He tried again. Same thing. I wished he’d stop before all the wiring in our house was fried. 

We have an emergency generator that I had never used. I tried to remember how to start it. Nothing I did worked. I called Stephen, our electrician, who came right out. He couldn’t start it either. “The battery is dead,” he said.

“I’ve never used it. How can the battery be dead?”

“Because you never used it. You should start it occasionally. I’ll go look for a new battery, but I have no idea where to find one like this on such short notice.”

Meanwhile the sun and the temperature were sinking. I ran down the driveway and called up to the lineman. “They’re bringing out a new transformer. I hope it gets here today,” he said, glancing at his watch. 

“You want to come inside and get warm?”

He gave me a smile. Right, I had no heat. Or running water. 

“I’ll wait in my truck, thanks.” 

“You better bring up some firewood,” Julee called from the house. “I’m packing a bag in case we have to find a hotel.” 

Lord, I cried out silently, why does everything go wrong all at once?     

Due to all the activity, Gracie was doing zoomies all over the yard. So exciting! So much fun!

I went over and sat dejectedly on the woodpile. At least the woodstove would work. Or would it? Would it be another machine in revolt? Albeit a primitive one.  

Gracie came over panting and lay at my feet. She liked bringing up wood to the house, carrying the lighter pieces in her mouth. 

Really this wasn’t such a disaster. We had candles and the woodstove, and we could go out to eat, which would be a change of pace. We could all sleep together on blankets in front of the woodstove. So why such a feeling of desperation? 

Control. I felt completely out of control. And the more we rely on machines and technologies the more control we give up. We can fall victim to the vagaries of our machines at any time, no matter how reliable they generally are.

Control. Wasn’t my faith supposed to be the answer to loss of control? In truth, I control vanishingly little about the world and thinking that I do leads to desperation and angst. The only truly reliable force in my life is God and the faith I have in Him. Everything else is, as they say, a crapshoot. 

I’m not big on New Year’s resolutions—unlike Gracie—but now seemed to be as good a time as any to have one, especially in a world full of uncertainty. In fact, there is a prayer I love that says it best:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference

That last part is where I need to do the work this year. To let go and let God when the situation calls for it. My spiritual well-being depends on it.

A new transformer arrived, and the lineman had it working in no time. Stephen showed up the next day with the battery the generator needed, and we got it going. “Just don’t let it sit idle for so long,” he reminded me again.

That goes for a lot of things.

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