Every year I attend an 18-hour training to retain my accreditation as a mentor in the Education for Ministry (EfM) program. I look forward to it every year. When I finished the seminar this year, I was excited to return to my online group to inspire them in the same way I was inspired by my training group.
Our trainer presented a story about a man named James. James was very kind man, always doing the best he could – joyfully – to help others. James was once asked how he could be so good and kind, especially when some people mistreated him or were ungrateful for his help. He responded, “We may live in a microwave world, but we have a crockpot God.” I admit I’ve been thinking about that since I heard it.
It’s no secret that we live a much faster-paced time than has ever been lived before. In just my lifetime, I’ve seen the rise of drive-thru restaurants, space travel, more and faster automobiles (now including computers, which weren’t around when I was a child either), cell phones, and the internet. I can now order whatever food I fancy just by looking up a phone number on the computer and then dialing my cell phone. I can get a new book the day it is released simply by placing an order online and having Amazon deliver it to my electronic reader. I can participate in groups like EfM without having to drive to a church or hall at night, and I can wear my pajamas while I’m with my group via Zoom. I can have my doctor call a prescription to the pharmacy, who will deliver it to me within a couple of hours, and the pizza I crave comes even faster!
I look back at how things were when I was a child, when I could read a book or play outside rather than watch TV or play video games. My best friend was our dog because there weren’t kids my age in the neighborhood. I don’t remember a library in our town until I was in my teens. All my neighbors knew me, and I couldn’t have gotten in trouble even if I had wanted to. There were just too many eyes keeping watch. Mine was the kind of childhood I wish my son could have had.
So, about the comment about the crockpot God, I admit, when I first thought “crackpot,” not “crockpot.” Even the second time, I was still trying to figure out what James was getting at. Then it hit me, James was talking about God not being in a constant hurry like we are. God sees time differently than we do, even though when creating the world, God set up the precursor to daylight savings time and 24-hour service.
Crockpots take ingredients like meat, potatoes, vegetables, water, broth, and seasonings, all put in and then covered. The magic starts when the pot is turned on, and for the coming, the ingredients release their individual flavors to mix into make an excellent stew or superb soup. The longer the pot cooks, the more tender the meat and flavorful the combination. The pot releases a delicious aroma that welcomes the family home from school, practice, or work.
God works that way, slowly and thoroughly. God might say a word or snap two fingers and change anything faster than an eye can blink, but God doesn’t often do that. We pray, asking for something to happen quickly to heal someone or perhaps solve a problem right away. That’s our microwave thinking. But God may set things in motion and let time and a little heat make the outcome whatever it is supposed to be. With a crockpot, it is good to stir it a few times during cooking. The same goes for that period between asking God for something and expecting results. Most of the time, God expects us to add a pinch more salt or another ingredient that doesn’t need to be cooked as long. We have hands so that we can lend them where and when required.
I’ve learned that perhaps I need to slow down a bit, open up a little, be more helpful and cheerful, and be more in line with God’s thinking and, perhaps, cooking. I can’t race through life, ignoring people who need my attention or help. I need to slow down, look around more, and be more deliberate in my living. I need to use the crockpot more and the microwave less. And the big thing is to remember that just because I put something in God’s hands doesn’t mean I keep my hands totally out of it from then on. I need to stir the crockpot now and then and learn to help others with deliberation and cheerfulness. I need to work in partnership with God – preferably with the speed and thoroughness of God, in God’s time, not mine.
Linda Ryan is a co-mentor for an Education for Ministry group, an avid reader, lover of Baroque and Renaissance music, and retired. She keeps the blog Jericho’s Daughter. She lives with her three cats near Phoenix, Arizona.