“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” (Ps 119:105 NIV)
Though my parents drank coffee regularly, I never had the desire to try it. It wasn’t until I was in seminary that my roommate lured me into trying my first cup. It was Moroccan coffee, and having never tasted that stuff before, the experience was brutal. I couldn’t sleep for the next three days, and when the effects eventually did wear off, I overslept and was late for class!
Right then and there I vowed to never touch the world’s most popular hot drink again. In retrospect, I think I made the right decision. I now have a nice collection of nickels and dimes that otherwise would have gone to cultivating coffee beans, and I sleep like a baby at night!
When we first arrived at our hotel room in Rochester, my boys noticed a coffeemaker in our room. They were excited. Not for the possibility of drinking coffee, but for the opportunity to make some hot chocolate! Since the temperatures outside had decided to take a kamikaze dive, we headed to Wegmans for hot chocolate powder, and anticipating our first taste of the rich, sweet liquid, we returned to our room, to our magnificent coffeemaker. That’s when the troubling question was directed at me: “Do you know how to use this thing?”
As any proud daddy would do, I responded with assurance: “Sure. It can’t be that hard!”
My confidence was not as well-rooted as it seemed, however. Not only do I stay away from coffee, but I’m not a fan of hot drinks in general, and as a result, I’ve never used a coffeemaker in my life! I assumed that all you needed to do was to fill the pot with water and then dump it in the back of the machine. After all, that looked like the only place that could hold that much water! And then you turned the machine on!
Before I had worked through all of this in my mind however, I realized that my confidential cover-up had been interpreted for what it really was: An admission that I had no clue how to work the machine! My boys had already taken things into their own hands, and the coffeemaker was in several pieces. Now this is never a good idea when you don’t have a clue what you’re doing, even when trying to solve a crime! And when we finally got the thing reassembled, the water in the back, and the “on” button pushed, we discovered that we had left out one tiny detail: The lid to the pot!
“What do you think, Papa? Shouldn’t we find a place for this piece too?”
I looked from my son’s inquiring face to the black plastic object in his hand. I didn’t really see its usefulness, so I confidently responded: “No, it should be fine! Let the coffeemaker do its job. You can hear the water starting to boil already!”
Five minutes later, my boys became a little nervous: “Papa, the filter container is overflowing with water, and it’s leaking all over the tray! Something must be wrong!”
Without even looking up from my book, I replied: “Don’t worry about it. It must be a cheap model!”
Five more minutes went by before the next exclamation: “Papa, there still isn’t a single drop of water in the pot!”
Being the thoughtful person that I am, I finally deigned to put my book down long enough to investigate. Sure enough, the filter was filled with hot water and the pot was completely empty. What was wrong with this picture? I solved the problem quite simply. I told my boys to bring their cups, and I poured their steaming liquid by tipping the coffeemaker. I couldn’t help remarking, however: “These things aren’t very handy, are they?”
That’s when one of my boys saw the directions clearly written on the top of the coffeemaker. It seemed that the plastic lid served a function after all! It opened the valve on the bottom of the filter, allowing the water to drip into the pot! The next time we made hot chocolate, our endeavors resulted in total success. We made sure we followed the directions, and the lid was firmly in place BEFORE we pressed “on”! What happened to the good old days when a kettle was all that was needed to heat water???
I learned one important thing from this experience: I need to take the time to read the directions! Those simple words attached to appliances can be a life-saver. Imagine using the hot iron (yes, there was one of those in our room) as a phone? It would most certainly be a heated discussion! Or trying to use the microwave (there was one of those in our room as well!) To cook some raw eggs in their shells? It would sure beat making an omelet! And what about heating your room with the oven instead of the thermostat? I once had a roommate in college who did this. He came from Africa and had never seen a thermostat before!
Reading instructions is not only advisable, it is a necessity for avoiding painful experiences. God, in His wisdom, gave us an instruction manual as well: The Bible. Reading and applying it to our lives will also prevent painful experiences!
“No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” (1 John 4:12 NIV)
By the way, do you have instructions how to use the remote control? I tried to start my car with it. It didn’t work! And the key didn’t work on the TV, either! What am I doing wrong???
(To access the entire “Ruthless Pursuit of Gold” devotional series, please click here.)