The Kettle of Despair


Or – “The Importance of Reading Instructions”

Yesterday my wife and I visited a National Trust property called ‘Shaw’s Corner”. George Bernard Shaw lived there for many years. Before leaving home we checked the web site – no cafe on site. No problem, we thought, this is a perfect opportunity to use our new ‘travel kettle’ for the first time. Congratulating ourselves on our forethought we packed said kettle, coffee, tea, mugs and milk before heading off. Little did we realise the lesson that awaited us.
Arriving on site we plugged the kettle into the cigarette lighter socket. Seventeen minutes later the water was hot, but not boiling. Not a little frustrated I poured the water into a mug and made some lukewarm coffee. It came time to lock the car and stroll around the property. Central locking, it turned out, was not working. Strange. Inserting the key into the ignition revealed that the car would not start and no electrical device could be operated. The car was as dead as a Dodo.
A call to the AA brought them hot-foot to the rescue. In no time the battery was recharged, but tests revealed it to be on its last legs (if batteries have legs), and so it was replaced. It transpires that I should have had the engine running while using the kettle. Why did I not do this? Because I had not read the instructions. And why had I not read the instructions? Because I made an assumption. I thought I knew enough about cars and kettles to be able to predict how this one should be operated. My mis-placed confidence was nothing less than complacency at best and arrogance at worst.
The lesson? Well, the lesson of complacency is summarised by this passage:

“At that time I will search Jerusalem with lamps and punish those who are complacent, who are like wine left on its dregs, who think, ‘The LORD will do nothing, either good or bad.’ Their wealth will be plundered, their houses demolished. They will build houses but not live in them; they will plant vineyards but not drink the wine. “The great day of the LORD is near—near and coming quickly. Listen! The cry on the day of the LORD will be bitter, the shouting of the warrior there.” (Zephaniah 1:12–14 NIV)

When God speaks He is authoritative. Therefore people who are complacent in obeying Him are guilty of arrogance. We may feel that God will do nothing, but we should not mistake His patience or His decision to wait for the right time as evidence of a lack of seriousness on His part.
On this occasion the AA were able to save me. But on another occasion, when the issues are more important than kettles and coffee, the LORD may not be in ‘saving’ mode, but ‘judgment’ mode if I am complacent regarding His words. We must heed the words spoken by Joshua to God’s people:

“See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. For I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.” (Deuteronomy 30:15–16 NIV)

Today let us choose life and not complacency.

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