When I hear the word ‘kettle’ my first thought is of the cordless, white plastic jug-style one that sits on my counter and which I boil to make tea at least seven times a day. But this week God has been speaking to me about a different kind: A huge copper kettle sitting on the edge of lamp-black coal-fired range, straight from a Victorian kitchen.
This kind of kettle had an enormous capacity and was kept filled and warm on the edge of the range at all times so that it could be boiled and poured out at a moments notice. It served the needs of the whole household, providing not only tea (vital for life in Britain you know) but also hot water for cleaning, washing up and for bathing.
These days you’re more likely to find one in an antiques shop, or polished up and on display somewhere. And it is lovely to look at, mostly because of what it’s made of, but there’s no mistaking that it was made for a purpose -to serve the needs of the family.
Big family range-top kettles used to be made out of a variety of different metals, but in the poshest houses they were made of copper like this one. Copper was used not because of its beauty, but because it has an amazing ability to conduct heat. Not only that, but also it doesn’t corrode (rust) and has a very high melting point. The perfect metal for the job.
My plastic kettle has an element inside it that heats the water, but this kettle has no capacity to heat the water by itself. Instead it relies entirely on being in close contact with the heat of the range.
But we are each like this big, copper kettle.
We are designed to serve the family, the body, of Christ each in our own way. Being shined-up and visible on the shelf of the household is much less important than doing the job I was made for. This is not necessarily something I find easy, but it’s true.
We are like this kettle.
We need to remember, to keep remembering, that we don’t have the capacity to power ourselves. I am entirely dependent on him for the power I need to do the job I was made for. And in order to receive that energy I need to be close to him. The only way for this kettle to come to the boil is to rest on the hotplate. Every single time it needs to come to the boil it has no choice but to come back into that place of rest. To be always ‘ready’, so that it stays warm all the time and can be brought to the boil quickly, it must keep coming back to resting on the hotplate regularly, and never venture very far away from it.
I am like this kettle.
The way I behave, the choices I make, matter. Character matters because it matters what you’re made of. Someone chose to make this kettle from copper because it was strong, able to take the weight of the water, wouldn’t corrode and fall apart, wouldn’t melt onto the stove and also because it is fantastic at conducting heat. I need to be good, not only at resting in God and absorbing ‘heat’ from him, but also at passing that heat on to others. I need to have a character that will not corrode over time, or lose strength and melt. It matters what I’m made of.
We are all like this copper kettle.
We each have the capacity to serve others in a myraid of different ways. We are each important to the household in hospitality, in comfort, in keeping clean, and in sustaining.
But we can do none of those things unless we stay close to the source of the heat.