I was installing a new dishwasher and nothing was going right. It’s a cramped, awkward space for my middle-aged frame and every time I misplaced a tool or dropped a little screw I had to extricate myself from my hole to look for it and then crawl right back in. It might take an experienced installer an hour or so to put in this devil machine, but I spent the better part of a day in there.
Finally I stepped back to admire my handiwork, the brushed steel gleaming under the kitchen lights. I felt like we had a Porsche parked in our kitchen, and I felt like a hero. I had triumphed.
Then I saw the code. There were some numbers flashing on the display, starting with an “E”. Not a good thing. What words begin with “E”? Let’s see. Excellent? Well, it was an excellent machine, but I’m sure it already knew that. What else could it be telling me?
Error. A quick check on the smartphone declared the code to indicate a defective pump. It was over 5 weeks – after numerous phone calls to the dealer and finally a visit from the manufacturer’s tech guy – before dishwashing harmony was again heard in our kitchen.
Sometimes so much goes off the rails it seems planned to test us.
Then it occurred to me that much of the disappointment, even despair that comes into our lives comes from being too heavily invested in the here and now. And if this life and dishwashers is all there is, it might be understandable. That malevolent contraption stole a day from me, and I’m not getting any younger.
But if this life is just a preparation for what is to come, then I can view my frustrations in a different light.
First, the problem itself becomes less significant. If I am going to live forever, how big a deal is it? We need the right perspective. Maybe the lessons in patience and trusting in God are more important that 8 hours of my weekend.
It also reveals my priorities, and demonstrates who’s running my life.  Who’s in charge? Who’s agenda is of ultimate importance? Do I trust that God can and is using this for my good?
Finally, it’s a chance to practice growing in grace. All of life is a training ground, and as we consciously lean on Him (choosing love and service and not swearing bitterly at malfunctioning appliances) we are increasingly remade, changed in fact and made like Him.
It’s hard. We have to unlearn all of our self-absorbed, grasping ways and learn to trust His leading. It feels like a kind of death, the end of cherished notions and dreams as we step into a world of trust. Doubts arise: what if this IS all there is and I miss out? We want to hedge our bets: we want the comfort of heaven, but we want security and an easy life. We want things to go the way they’re supposed to.
The decision of faith, then, is first that God really is there, and then that we believe He acts on our behalf both in this life and for eternity in the face of apparent chaos and hassle. The attitude we take when the you-know-what hits the fan has a lot to say about where our hearts are really invested.
Oh yeah. The dishwasher’s running great now.