When my children come home for a weekend, I often make pancakes on Saturday morning. I usually double the recipe to ensure we have plenty, including an extra one for the dog who faithfully waits by the griddle in hopeful expectation.
Over the years, it has been my practice to assemble all of the dry ingredients in one bowl and all of the wet ingredients in another bowl. When I combine them, I can easily judge the viscosity of the batter and bring it to the consistency that I like either by adding more flour or by adding more milk.
One Saturday, I noticed that the batter seemed oddly dry. As I continued to mix, it was clear that it would take more than just “a little more milk” to fix the clumpy mess I had created. "What am I missing?" I wondered.
Staring at this chunky wad in the bowl, I considered my options. (Dumping everything into the trashcan and starting over was not out of the question). Not sure how to redeem the situation, I felt prompted to go back to the recipe to see if I could figure out where I had strayed.
Taking time to retrace my steps, I discovered the problem. While I had doubled the amount of the dry ingredients, I had only measured a single portion of the wet ingredients. In short order, I allocated another measure of the wet ingredients to the mixture and brought it to a more familiar consistency.
As I reflected on that cooking experience, it struck me that when things were not coming together correctly, the answer was found in going back to the recipe.
The same is true in our faith journey. When things are not coming together as we seek to live “a life of pleasing God,” we don’t have to "just stand there," staring at the mess. We also don’t have to venture down some frustrating path of experimentation, trying to figure it out. We simply need to return to the Living Word.
“Everything that goes into a life of pleasing God has been miraculously given to us by getting to know, personally and intimately, the One who invited us to God. The best invitation we ever received! We were also given absolutely terrific promises to pass on to you - your tickets to participation in the life of God after you turned your back on a world corrupted by lust” (2 Peter 1:3-4 MSG). Selah. Pause and calmly think about that.
This divine recipe, so to speak, includes these instructions: “Because you have these blessings, do your best to add these things to your lives: to your faith, add goodness; and to your goodness, add knowledge; and to your knowledge, add self-control; and to your self-control, add patience; and to your patience, add service for God; and to your service for God, add kindness for your brothers and sisters in Christ; and to this kindness, add love. If all these things are in you and are growing, they will help you to be useful and productive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:5-8 NCV).
Now here is the icing on the cake (pardon the pun). We don’t have to scrounge around striving to acquire these “ingredients.” Rather, these gifts of grace are “miraculously given to us” by the Holy Spirit! Like any other gift, the only thing we have to do is receive it.
Using the imagery of a vineyard in John 15, Jesus explained that the vine produces fruit in the branches as they rest, abide, and remain in the vine. As the True Vine, Jesus offers a Life-giving flow of grace as we simply rest, abide, and remain in Him. We don't have to strive! In His perfect love, He lavishly offers a ceaseless supply of everything needed to “live a life of pleasing God.”
Are you staring at a mess today? Are you wandering down a path of frustration trying to figure it out on your own? Perhaps this is God’s invitation to go back to the recipe. Join me in praying, “God, I invite your searching gaze into my heart. Examine me through and through; find out everything that may be hidden within me. Put me to the test, and sift through all my anxious cares. See if there is any path of pain I’m walking on, and lead me back to your glorious, everlasting ways, the path that brings me back to You” (Psalm 139:23-24 The Passion Translation). Rest, abide, and remain in Him, then watch and see what God will do! Amen.
[Looking for more devotionals like this? Check-out 31 Days of Encouragement, available for purchase on-line. Sharing a devotional at the beginning of a rehearsal or a staff meeting is a great way to help people center their hearts and minds on eternal things!]