Slaves to Convenience – The Ice Storm


If nothing else, God has a sense of irony.  Only four days after writing my piece titled “Slaves to Convenience”, we were smacked with a tremendous ice storm that wiped out utility service for most of our county for three days.  There’s nothing like having no electrical power to make you feel like you’ve been bombed back to the Stone Age.

How did we learn of our good fortune?  I woke up in the middle of the night to the sound of nothing working.  (Yes, I’m being serious.)  Nothing left to do at that point except put on extra clothes, make sure that the boys have extra blankets, and play Big Spoon with my bride.

Luckily, we have natural gas feeding our home.  The stove and the water heater worked, so at least I could take hot showers (albeit in the dark) and Heather could cook.  I have a propane space heater left over from when Mom and Dad lived in the area, and we still had a couple of small tanks with fuel in them.  Between the oven in the kitchen and the space heater in the living room, the house stayed tolerably chill-free, if not downright toasty.  We spent several days like that before service was restored.

I enjoyed it.  It was a blessing from God.

In the interest of full disclosure, I wasn’t completely without modern conveniences.  My smartphone still worked with the aid of a car charger (I’m not a complete Neanderthal), and I remembered that I had a portable, battery-powered DVD player in my workshop with a charged battery.  My wife, being an inveterate shutter bug, had a small arsenal of charged AA batteries, a camera with excellent low-light performance, and the skills to use it.  The photo above is the result – there I am, face lit by the glow of a phone screen and the warm red glow of a propane heater in the background.  Put it on the Saturday Evening Post and Norman Rockwell would be jealous.

Being without power was just the gift from God that we needed.  Heather taught the boys how to play Monopoly, I came home from work and had dinner by the setting sun, took a hot shower in the dark, the boys would read stories by flashlight, they’d cast shadow puppets on the wall, and then they’d go to bed.  After that, Heather and I would cuddle on the couch and watch a movie together on a tiny, battery-powered screen.  We haven’t cuddled on the couch like that in six years.  Then we’d bundle up for bed and keep warm under the covers while we breathed the cool air.  We both slept like babies.

Now the electricity is restored and things are back to normal.  I’m glad to have my computer again, glad to be back at the blog, glad to be able to see where I’m washing, and glad to see my hand in front of my face.  Back in the modern world again after a short reprieve.

To be honest, though, I feel a tinge of sadness that the innocent enjoyment of the last couple of days is gone.  There was a certain liberation in a silent TV.  Not having our lives filled with the omnipresent sound of something was refreshing.  I had forgotten how noisy life could be until all the noise was turned off.  Just my wife, our children, the dog, and laughter.  People used to live like that every day.  We’ve forgotten how to enjoy each other’s company… how to enjoy the moment… how to just be.

I don’t think that God intended for us to be so busy that we forget that.  We’re not meant to become enslaved by our things.  Jesus Christ didn’t take upon himself the sins of the world so that we could have better “stuff”.  He died for our sins so that we could have the “ministry of reconciliation” described in 2 Corinthians 5:18-19.  Christ died so that we could be restored in our relationship with God and our relationships with each other.  We mess it up when we become enamored with our routines and our possessions.  Rather than be wholeheartedly devoted to God and to each other, we become slaves to our routines and our conveniences.

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.  Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1  NIV)

I challenge each of you who read this.  Turn off the TV for three days.  Unplug the computer for three days.  Come home at the end of the day and be with your family.  If you’re single, then commit that time to someone who doesn’t have anyone.  Set your routine and your conveniences aside for three days and be where you are. Let God remind you of what the important things are.