Friday, October 3, 2014

Lessons I've learned from a Microwave Oven

It isn't often that I can say I've learned a lesson from an inanimate object. Today, while heating up leftover red beans and rice, I realized just how many lessons you can learn from a broken microwave oven.

Earlier this week, our microwave gave up the "ghost" and while it turns on, the whirling sound of the fan is gone, making it unsafe to use. We don't have one of those countertop microwaves. Ours is built into our cabinets and the control board connects to our wall oven. In other words, replacing it without replacing the entire oven unit is impossible. Needless to say, replacing it will also cost a lot more than a countertop microwave oven.

I grew up in a home that never had a microwave oven. In fact, they were rare. So rare that when my husband's family got one of the first ones, people thought it was a TV and no one ever put a TV in their kitchen. My husband often talks about his mother demonstrating the many wonders of cooking food in a microwave, but it was definitely not a trend that got our attention back in the early to mid-70's -- that's 1970's for anyone wondering!

In fact, I didn't get my first microwave oven until I moved to Madison at the age of 27. I remember picking it up at the Sears store at East Towne Mall. I was so proud of having a tool that would soon revolutionize my life. Being single, I could now cook food that normally took a minimum of a half hour to heat in the oven. It reheated leftovers, boiled water, and even made scrambled eggs in a coffee cup (minus the coffee). How did I live to the ripe old age of 27 without this thing?

I moved to Virginia Beach to attend law school at the age of 31 with my trusty microwave oven in tow. One day, while my roommate was using it, the microwave just went kaput. I do not recall if my roommate had a replacement or if I just adjusted to living without it. In any case, its demise did not make a big impression on me (although I did miss my cute little oven). 

Soon I graduated from law school and moved to Indiana where my apartment was equipped with a built-in microwave oven. I was thrilled! Even after I got married, wherever we lived, we had a microwave oven (we bought one when one of our residences had none). We bought our house more than 17 years ago and I instantly fell in love with the kitchen because it had a built-in microwave. No more counter space taken up by a clunky oven, I suddenly thought of all the "useful" gadgets I could put in its place!

All of that background, leads me to today when I was warming up the red beans and rice. You are likely asking yourself, "so what lessons, pray-tell, have you learned from your microwave?"

First of all, I've learned I am impatient. Without a microwave oven, I have to now heat my leftovers the old-fashioned way -- in a pot on the stove. Ugh! I have more dishes to dirty, a stove to wipe down, and I actually have to stand next to the stove and stir the leftovers so they don't burn! Impatiently, I tap my foot, and, I must confess, with a little bit of anger in my heart! I take a bite of food. "Still cold...." I mumble to myself. Tap...tap...tap. Yes, it took a whole 10 minutes to heat the food! Well, maybe not, because I cranked up the burner to high, like a fool, walked away for a moment, and nearly burned the beans due to my impatience.

Second, I am an instant gratification kind of person. That is a hard thing to admit because that is how babies act and who wants to act like a baby? But I know now that if I don't have instant results, I just might throw a tantrum or give up altogether. How foolish to think that the best things in life come instantly. How often do we go to drive-thru restaurants and instantly get our food (I know, less often than it used to be)? We get instant results when we "Google" our questions. We even have IM (that's "instant messenger" for those over the age of 55) on our Facebook page and smart phones. Whatever happened to the world where we actually have to wait for something?

I still remember my mom telling me, "Good things happen to those who wait" and "A watched pot never boils." Because of my desire for instant gratification, all too often I look for instant results from my children and my husband. The Lord has been long-suffering with me, yet I forget that people aren't a microwave oven which can boil water in under two minutes.

Third, my microwave oven has taught me that life doesn't always go as you planned. Proverbs 16:9 says, " The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps." There is nothing wrong with making plans, just like there is nothing wrong with using a microwave oven (unless you are in the camp that says microwave ovens will kill you because it alters the molecular structure of your food). However, we should always be flexible since the Lord is the one who establishes our steps. A broken microwave oven will definitely make you flexible.

Finally, the most important lesson I have learned from my microwave oven is to not put your trust in "stuff," but rather put your trust in the Lord. The things of this world will pass away, but the Word of the Lord will last forever. I'm certain, over time, I will get a new microwave oven and I will likely learn more lessons from this inanimate object again, but these four lessons have taught me enough for one day.

Let's face it, complaining about a broken microwave is folly. It's time to take a fresh look at how God desires my heart more than my comfort. And I am certain when I learn that lesson, there will be more lessons like this one in my future. I just hope my toilet doesn't break next because I can think of a lot of lessons I could learn from that too!

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