We were better prepared for power outages when we lived on a country road in Michigan. Frequent blizzards and ice storms necessitated the use of our trusty generator and wood stove almost every winter. We simply cooked in the downstairs kitchen on the gas stove instead of using the electric stove in our regular kitchen or cooked something in a pot on the wood-burner as we heated the house. The generator ran the pump and kept the refrigerator cold, and was equipped with a convenient switch that routed the power to house when the power went down. And, if the well failed, our backyard pond could supply ample water till things straightened out again.
But, a few years ago, we traded the country life for a neighborhood in a major city. Shopping is better; there are at least 6 different grocery stores within a 3 mile circle from our home, and multiple malls and big box stores within 10 miles. We have numerous hospitals close by, and are not limited to medical care. Entertainment opportunities abound in the big city. And, instead of our closest neighbors being a half mile down the dirt road, we have community.
This morning, however, I missed the country life. While we have a gas furnace, the ignition and fan are electric. We have a gas stove, but had to find matches to light the burners. And, as we watched the interior temperatures drop, we reminisced over the ease of flipping a generator switch in the country house as we debated about which appliances were the most important to access the generator first. Thankfully water is not a problem, because the city feeds provide pressure for flushing toilets, but how to keep the pipes from freezing?
We dug out our long underwear, dressed in layers and boiled a kettle of water to make to coffee. I was amused to find myself automatically reaching for light switches in rooms, only to remember, “Oh, no power.” We take having electricity at our fingertips for granted.
This is the first power outage we have experienced here; the lines are buried so even during the past three hurricanes, our lights have not flickered. Nearly 4,000 customers were without power this morning and I am grateful for the crews who worked in the 22 degree cold to quickly restore our electricity.
This minor blip, this short term power outage, makes me think of all the other things we casually take for granted in our lives. Having available food, a home, clothing, friends, instant technology, freedom to worship, living in relative safety, and health are all treasures. And most of all, a loving creator God who wants to have a personal relationship with us.
In a recent Sunday school class, we talked with the elementary children about living without electricity. They were horrified by the thought of not having their tablets and cell phones. One ten year old said he could live without electricity as long as he could still play his video games any time he wanted. An eleven year old girl said she couldn’t live without her cell phone. We teachers struggled to help them understand that there are places on earth where people live without such modern conveniences, but I’m sure they thought we were exaggerating. Not only do we, as a population, take our luxuries for granted, but we claim them as a necessity.
Yet the only REAL necessity we have in this life is a personal relationship with our loving creator God. He supplies all of our needs, from the air in our lungs, to the food we eat and the clothing we wear. Everything we are and have come from His hand.
In Exodus 33, the Bible records a conversation between God and Moses. The people have rebelled and God is angry. He tells Moses that He will send an angel to bring them to the Promised Land but He will not go with them because of their sin. The people repent and God relents. Moses declares, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here.”
We need to cultivate the heart of Moses. It isn’t our creature comforts that matter the most, but our relationship with God. We need God’s presence in our lives far more than electricity and other modern conveniences. And, like electricity, He is always near, but we just take Him for granted.