Letting Off Steam

By Marcy Barthelette

And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking and the door will be opened to you. Luke 11:9

Many years ago, I helped my mom can the vegetables we grew in our summer garden. Perhaps I should say, I helped her prepare the vegetables for canning. You see, we had this old pressure cooker that Mom wasn’t sure she really trusted, so when the contents had been added and the cooker was building up the necessary steam to properly cook the vegetables, I was admonished to leave the room, just in case. I really didn’t know what “just in case” meant until one day when the valve blew off that pressure cooker and we spent most of our day cleaning up the resulting mess. Believe me, I was very glad Mom had advised me well. Had I not obeyed, I could have been badly burned or cut by flying glass. That was the last time we ever used a pressure cooker in that kitchen. As a matter of fact, I still have a healthy enough respect for them that I haven’t been willing to try the newer and, supposedly, much safer models.

The use of steam to accomplish manual labor has been recorded as early as the first century AD but steam really came into its own as a power source in the late sixteen and early seventeen hundreds. Initially used to pump water from underground mines, it was later harnessed to power various types of factories and found its way to steam-powered ships and locomotives. My imagination has always been drawn to the era of steam. What kid from my generation didn’t dream of adventures fueled by the hissing of a steam locomotive racing across the desert in an old western with bandits in hot pursuit? I’ve read vivid stories and watched enchanting movies in which steamboats huffed and puffed their way up and down the mighty Mississippi and steam locomotives traversed our nation at speeds unheard of before their invention. I’ve ridden the existing narrow gauge railways of the west through incredible gorges and across seemingly never-ending plains. Perhaps my eye even caught a glimpse of one of those bandits from the past. I reveled in the thrill of seeing that huge cloud of steam billowing into the air when the engine needed to release her pressure. The excitement of climbing aboard a steam-powered train has never left me, though it has been a few years since my last venture.

One theme remains constant when using steam power. You reach a point when some of the steam must be released in order to keep from blowing up the engine. Just as our pressure cooker exploded because of a failed valve, so can a ship a locomotive, or a factory. And, obviously, the resulting damage can be devastating.

We humans can build up a great head of steam as well. Today’s fast-paced world expects us to be the best at everything we attempt. When we allow that steam to build with no release, our bodies and minds may not be able to deal with the pressure, and physical or mental illness may result. 

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.
I Peter 5:6 NIV

The key is to keep our spirits healthy by giving all the junk to God. If you’ve read my work before, you may have seen the words, “God wants to hear from you.” He does. We needn’t worry about embarrassment because He already knows everything. He doesn’t ask us to inform Him, He wants us to realize that we’re carrying around “steam” that needs to be released. He won’t mind if you rant and rave a bit. 

Just be honest and get it off your chest. And the real key is to leave it there with God. Don’t pick it back up and try to deal with it by yourself. Release the pressure. God is your steam vent. Give it to Him, leave it in His very capable hands, and thank Him for always being right there beside you.

Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you. I Peter 5:7 NLT

Just as I cover my pot and pans with steam vented lids to keep the liquid from boiling over, I must remember to release all my extra “steam” to God daily and let Him deal with it. I mustn’t be timid but enthusiastically thrust all those unwanted cares upon Him. It makes me a much nicer person and without all that junk on my mind, I can turn my thoughts to planning another steam-powered trip back to a “calmer and safer world.” Or not!

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done.
Philippians 4:6 NLT

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