Rite of passage parenting: Microwaves and more
I bet many of you readers are like me and remember when you got your first microwave oven. Years ago, a young man in our church wanted to do something special for our family. He approached me and asked if we had a microwave oven.
I’d heard about these newfangled contraptions. As far as I knew, owning one was like having a personal atomic nuclear reactor. I grew up in the days when nuclear war was in the forefront of everybody’s mind. We had school drills in which teachers told us if we saw the big mushroom in the sky, we should either jump into a ditch or hide under our tiny wooden desks.
Beyond those terrifying drills, I’d watched the old black-and-white television show Flash Gordon and seen how destructive microwaves could be. A rumor went around that if you didn’t close the microwave door tight enough, some kind of gamma rays would leak out and you’d end up looking like a hairless Chihuahua or Uncle Ed.
I talked to my wife about what this young man wanted to do for us, and she wasn’t too sure. If we got this new thing, what in the world would we use it for, anyway? But before long, the young man gave us the gift. Since we weren’t sure what to do with it, we started out by using it to boil water for tea and hot chocolate. Next, we got adventurous and tried microwave popcorn. We’ve never looked back.
This weekend, our 16-year-old microwave oven quit working. My wife and I stood looking into the big electronic box and realized nothing was happening. The carousel wasn’t turning; the light wasn’t shining. We realized our microwave had died. Life as we knew it came to a screeching halt. Something we hadn’t trusted at first had become one of our primary appliances.
My wife and I looked at each other and wondered how we were going to make dinner. I reminded her that below the microwave sat another box called the oven. In the pre-microwave era, we used this box to heat up everything. I don’t remember the last time we had warmed leftovers in the oven, but we did it the other night.
I was talking to a friend about our microwave’s sudden death. She told me her grandmother had a microwave oven that she used for a breadbox. Talk about retrofitting a modern-day appliance!
I grew up in the era when every household had a breadbox on the kitchen counter. Grandma made home- baked bread with an ever-so-slightly-crispy crust. I loved it when she took the bread out of the oven, piping hot, and cut a thick slice just for me. She’d spread a little butter on it, just enough to make the whole thing melt in my mouth. Nothing brings back warmer memories than the thought of Grandma’s homemade bread. (By the way, if any of you readers are interested, I have a breadbox for sale that looks a lot like our old microwave oven.)
Soon, we’ll buy a new microwave. It’ll have all the latest stuff on it, and we’ll wonder how we ever made it with the old one. Life goes on, and before we know it, we establish a new normal.
I’m partial to microwave ovens, breadboxes and the Word of God. Of the three, the one that will never go out of date is the Word of God. No matter what stage of life I find myself in, it’s relevant. When I was a child, the Bible was a book of wonderful stories that taught me about life. In my emerging adult life, it became a “lamp to my feet and a light for my path” (Ps. 119:105). As a young father, the Bible was a book of blueprints that showed me how to build a family and raise up future Kingdom workers. In my mid-adult life, it became a moral compass that guided me through a corrupted world. And in my sunset years, the Bible has become a book of comfort and hope that reminds me of the promises of our Lord.
Yes, things in our home have changed. We’ve gone from no television to a high-definition plasma screen and from a wood-burning stove to the latest microwave oven. The list goes on and on. The only thing that remains constant in the world and, I pray, in your home, is the Word of God. As Jesus reminded us, “’Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4).
God’s Word doesn’t need a microwave or a breadbox. And it never fails to fill me to overflowing.