I don’t expect that you automatically know what a widow maker is, but I also assume that you could give it a good guess as to the heart behind the title. I learned for the first time, when I went on our youth ministries Costa Rica mission trip. We were picked up from the airport by a dear friend of mine who had grown as much of his hair out as he could. His desire was to be Christ-like in both heart and deed. He was giving us an orientation of the hostel we were going to be living at for the next two weeks, telling us what to expect on the work sites, and just a general rundown. Someone raised their hand and asked how we were to shower. He told us the good news that Costa Rica has potable water (which means drinkable…one of the only countries in Latin America) but that to have warm water it went through a shower head that was affectionately called a widow maker…
Allow me to explain. It looks much like a showerhead that you and I would use in North America, with one big different. There is electricity running into it. To save money rather than lives they don’t have hot water heaters, instead they run cold water over hot coils located IN THE SHOWERHEAD and then that hot water comes raining down on you. The other bit of good news is that most people didn’t get shocked using it. Most was not a satisfying percentage. I like to hear something like, 100% of all people who go into a shower come out no more electrocuted than when they go in.
I went to bed that night sleeping with one eye open in case the Widow Maker decided to come to life. I woke up in the morning, making sure that I was on some sort of rubber footing for protection, and I cranked on the water. I spent the next 15 minutes waiting for the water to “heat up” turning the water faster and faster. After my first freeze out shower in Costa Rica, I asked what I was doing wrong. Aside from my deep fear of the shower now, I was pushing the water through the head too fast. The water didn’t have enough time sitting by the heat and electricity. If I want it to heat up, I need it to slow down. Different than anything I had every experienced in 36 years of life. You want to warm it up a bit, slow it down. You want to melt your hair to your head? Get a slow trickle going, that water feels like lava.
Much of my life is spent at a pace too fast or healthy to sustain. When life gets tough, and we struggle, we crank up the speed and the caffeine hoping that we can white-knuckle through the experience and come out on the other side unscathed. I don’t believe that is what God wants. The only thing I see Him say we need more of is Him. And the truth is the best way to get that is to slow down.
“Be still and know that I am God.” (Ps. 46:10)
He ministers to us not in the big, rather the small gentle voice of His spirit leading us to a point of healing. My two speeds are turbo and stop. Neither is productive or sustainable. How many times do I need to burn my hair off before I remember that God’s pace is rarely mine. I have heard the adage that the busier I get, the more I should pray but that seems so counterproductive. As I quiet my heart, I hear God more, and am more satisfied. If I stand there screaming at Him to hurry up and move on my time, I end up being pretty disappointed. Thank you Widow Maker. You are dangerous, but ever so wise.